One of the best things about WordPress is how easy it is to add and edit your content. You can simply paste you text in from a Word file or type straight into WordPress and with the range of formatting tools built in there’s no coding needed (unless you want to, of course) to style it.
This makes it ideal for small businesses, who need to update their site regularly but don’t have the resources, or need, to hire a full time web designer to manage it.
Let’s take a look at the standard WordPress content editor. You’ll see there are two tabs – the Visual Editor and Text Editor. Most people automatically use the Visual Editor but the Text Editor is really handy. You can use it to view, add and edit HTML or Shortcodes.
And, if like me you write your blog posts in Word rather than typing straight in WordPress, the Text Editor is extremely useful.
You see, Word adds all sorts of formatting and styles to your text. If you copy and paste text from Word into the Visual Editor then all those extra bits of formatting are sometimes copied in too, especially in older versions of WordPress. This can conflict with the styles of your WordPress theme and make your posts look weird.
But if you paste text into the Text Editor instead, Word’s formatting is stripped away, so you can then do all the styling in WordPress.
Top tip: You can also do this by using the “Paste as text” button. If you can’t see it, click the “Toolbar Toggle” button to reveal all of WordPress’s formatting options.
The way you format text in WordPress is actually very similar to doing it in Word. Using the Visual Editor, you just highlight the piece of text you want to style, then with the click of a button you can make it bold or italic, turn it into a bulleted or numbered list, centre it, or turn it into a link.
And, if you want to remove the formatting you’ve applied, highlight the text and click the ‘Clear formatting’ button, or use the Text Editor to remove the code.
Top tip: to add emphasis to your text, stick to making it either bold or italic rather than underlining it. Underlined text on websites will look like a link and might confuse people if they click on it and nothing happens!
To create headings don’t just make your text bold. Instead, use the pre-defined heading styles given by your theme.
This will give you the best looking results, and it’s also better for the SEO and accessibility of your site because your text will be given an HTML tag to show that it’s a heading rather than normal paragraph text.
There are 6 sizes of heading tags available – H1 to H6. H1 headings are usually the biggest sized text on the page and so are usually reserved for the page title or main heading of the page. There’s usually only one H1 heading on a page.
H2 headings are the next biggest and are therefore used for the next most important headings. And so on, down to the H6, the smallest size of heading.
Using headings tags makes your content easier to scan and read as it gives a clear hierarchy to your text. It’s also better for the SEO and accessibility of your site. Search engines don’t read your site the same way people do – they read the raw HTML code so using the correct tags shows them the hierarchy of your content.
Sometimes you need a special character that isn’t on your computer’s keyboard. For example if you’re using words from another language, or for symbols, such as the copyright sign ©.
You can look up the HTML reference for the character, but a faster way is to click on the ‘Special Character’ button. You can then pick from a variety of extra characters, punctuation and symbols.
When you’re creating or editing pages and posts, there are many other elements on the screen besides the content editor.
If you find the screen way too busy, you can click the ‘Distraction-free writing mode’ button. This will remove unnecessary elements from the screen so you can focus on your writing.
That’s your quick start guide to the built-in text formatting options in WordPress. Use these tips to style your content and make them both easy to read and attractive to look at. There are ways to add extra formatting options, like plugins to style tables, but let’s save that for another day!
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