wordpress: getting started

Appendix B: Screen Options

When editing a Post or Page, there are many more options available than those you see by default. Depending on your site's needs, you may or may not ever need access to these "power features," but it's worth familiarizing yourself anyway. Look for the "Screen Options" link at the upper right corner of the screen:

Screen options 1

A panel will drop down, similar to this one:

Screen options 1

Each item in this panel represents a "section" of the Post-editing interface, which you can show or hide via checkbox. You can also switch your overall layout from 2-column to 1-column. Doing so gives you a wider space to work in, which is nice, but pushes the all-important Publish section further down the page.

Sections of the page can actually be dragged around to other positions - try it! Your preferences will be saved automatically, and will remain in effect on the next post you edit as well.

Experiment with the options here - you can't break anything! Here are notes on some of the section options available:

Format: The vast majority of posts you create will be "Standard" format. "Gallery" and "Aside" are used only in special circumstances - your theme may direct you to create posts of these types when creating certain kinds of content. You can generally ignore this option.

Categories and Tags: These let you position the current story in a "taxonomy" for your site. We'll discuss these in detail later.

Featured Image: In the course of writing a Post, you may upload many images to that Post's internal "gallery." But in some site designs, certain stories get displayed prominently, with big images to go with them. Featured Image lets you tell WordPress which associated image is to be considered the "main" one. With the right setup, Featured Image can also be used to set a custom banner image for the current post.

Excerpt: This optional field is mainly used when generating RSS feeds for a site. If you don't specify an Excerpt, the first 55 words of the post will be used by default. If the lede of your post doesn't do a good job of summarizing the content, use this field to override the default.

Send Trackbacks: When you create a post that contains a link to another site, and Trackbacks are enabled, WordPress will attempt to "ping" that other site. If that site is also Trackback-enabled, a link to your site will appear in that site's comments section. In this way, sites can communicate automatically about whether similar conversations are happening on the web.

Custom Fields: WordPress can store arbitrary "meta" information about a post, which can then be used in the theme's templates. For example, your theme might support "extra wide" posts, which cause the sidebar to disappear so your content can use the full screen-width. Such a theme might instruct you to use Custom Fields to "wide" to "true." You'll only need these fields if your theme's instructions (or your web developer) tells you to use them.

Discussion and Comments: These two fields are related but different. Discussion lets you control whether people are allowed to leave comments on the current post. Comments let you manage the actual comments that have been left on this post (you can also manage comments from the main Comments portion of the Dashboard sidebar).

Slug: When you write a headline, WordPress automatically creates a "slugified" version of that headline -- all lowercase, punctuation removed -- for use in the URL. For SEO and convenience reasons, you might want to edit the slug and alter the URL. This field lets you do that.

Author: By default, all posts you create will appear as though they were authored by you. But if you work on a multi-author site and sometimes post content for other writers, this lets you set the byline to their name, rather than yours.

Revisions: Every time you save a post to the database, WordPress saves your changes to a "revision," which can later be restored. This is a nice safety net, protecting you against authoring accidents.