In a nutshell, an excerpt is a little piece of a bigger thing. In web development, especially in platforms like WordPress, an excerpt usually means a small part of a bigger blog post or article.
An excerpt is like a movie trailer, in that it gives people a short preview of what’s to come. When people see the excerpt on your webpage, they can get a quick idea of what the full post is about. From there they can decide if they want to click and read more.
Why And Where To Use An Excerpt
Excerpts can be really useful if:
- You want to keep your homepage neat and tidy. Instead of showing full posts, you can show excerpts with a link to read more.
- You have a lot of posts or articles on your site. An excerpt can help people find the ones they’re interested in.
No matter how exciting the content is on your WordPress website, there may arise a situation where you want to only display a controlled amount of information on your home page. Therefore, if the user wants to read more, they can click on the individual post, but the home page remains looking very streamlined and “clean.”
You might also want to have a separate archive page or a ‘blog reel’ which gives a brief overview of all the blog posts on your site, without having to post them in their entirety into the reel. The excerpt function is very useful in both of these scenarios. You would use an excerpt to give your readers a taste of the content in a particular post.
Examples of an Excerpt
Ok, let’s say I wrote a long blog post about the weirdest websites on the internet. An excerpt could be the first few lines of my post:
“If you’re looking for pointless, irrelevant, and weird websites, then be prepared to have your mind blown with this unruly bunch.“
This little taste can help people decide if they want to read the whole post.
How To Use Excerpts
There are several different ways to use excerpts. Some WordPress themes, for example, automatically generate excerpts. You can also do it manually from the Post Edit screen.
First, you’ll need to make sure that the ability to manually create an excerpt is activated. After making sure that you’re logged into your WordPress site, click on “Screen Options” in the upper righthand corner. Make sure that the checkmark is activated next to the box labelled “Excerpt.”
With excerpts activated, you have two options to manually create one from the Post Edit screen. The first option is to insert the “!–more–” tag after existing content in your post. This will designate the content before that tag as the excerpt. The second option is to write out a separate text that you want to use as the excerpt. This needs to be written in the “Excerpt” box immediately beneath where the post’s content goes.
Note: The default limit for a WordPress excerpt is 55 words. This can, however, be modified by making coding changes.
Keep in mind that excerpts are not solely used on the homepage. Excerpts are also used with your website’s RSS feed, for search results, and for archived pages.
How Useful is an Excerpt?
Depending on how you implement them, and what your site is for, excerpts can be very useful! They can help you attract more readers and keep your site organized.
How you use excerpts depends on your site and your audience. But with a little creativity, an excerpt can be a powerful addition to how you share your content.
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