Earlier this week I discussed the Thumbnails for Excerpts Plugin, which adds thumbnails to the excerpts in all of your archives.
Today I want to discuss an alternative that doesn’t require additional plugins. This is the Excerpts field on your Write > Post page. What? What Excerpts Field? Kim, what are you talking about?
Go to Write > Post and scroll down to the “Advanced Options” section near the bottom. One of the areas is called Excerpts and is just a blank field (that is way too small but that’s another topic). The description says, “Excerpts are optional hand-crafted summaries of your content. You can use them in your template”. Umm … ok. What this means is that whatever you write in this field will replace the default excerpts used by WordPress.
If you use excerpts for your archives, and most templates do, your custom content will appear when you use this field.
I can think of two ways to use this. Maybe my awesome readers will think of others and tell me about them in the comments.
- If you use the more tag and don’t post the full article on the front page (this is when you see “Read the rest of this entry” or on my site “Continue”), you could copy all of the content before the more tag in the optional excerpt field. This would provide more information in your archive entries.
- The other option is to write new content for the excerpt; something funny or clever that will entice the reader to find out what the article is about. Of course, this will take more time, which most of us don’t have because we aren’t full time bloggers but it only needs to be a sentence or two. Another issue with this is do you start writing the original excerpt with the current entry or go back and do it for all your older posts too? I would be compelled to write them for all of my posts because I’m fussy that way but then I only have 80 something posts. If I had 1000, I wouldn’t even consider it. (Speaking of the number of posts – how should I celebrate my 100th post? It’s coming up soon.)
To demonstrate the 2nd usage, I wrote a short excerpt for this post and it can be viewed under September 2008.
So, what do think? Are Optional Excerpts worth it? Do they enhance the archives? Or is it too much extra work? Personally, I think writing a unique excerpt for each post could be a lot of fun. Additionally, it creates unique content, which can be indexed by google.
photo credit: mahima_hada