May 20 2008

How to Format WordPress Text (A Photographic Essay)

Published by at 10:14 pm under Technical Advice,Text Formatting,WordPress

This article will teach you how to change the space between paragraphs, create internal links, add footnotes, and a few other tricks applicable to WordPress.

  1. Changing the Space Between Paragraphs
  2. Indenting Text Without Blockquotes
  3. Creating Internal Links (like this!)
  4. Making Links that Provide Pop-Up Information
  5. Adding Footnotes

Changing the Space Between Paragraphs

Most WordPress themes do not provide enough space between paragraphs. For example, this theme (Palaam) will give you only about .05 inches between each paragraph unless you specify otherwise. That will make your text cramped and ugly. Notice how painfully close this paragraph is to the bolded line “Changing the Space Between Paragraphs.” Yeah. That’s .05 inches.

Fortunately, you can specify that you want more space. This paragraph is .2 inches below the previous one, which looks a lot better and will make your readers more comfortable. To change the space between paragraphs, just go into the HTML editor for your post and insert this line (without the quotation marks) where you would like to add space: “<p style=”margin-bottom: .2in; font-style: normal;”></p>” . In your text editor, it should look something like this.

Indenting Text Without Blockquoting

Block-quoting is one way to indent text (place it farther to the right than the rest of the text). However, block-quoting works poorly on some themes.

For example, Palaam changes the color of the text to an unappealing grey and adds gaudy and ugly quote marks. That’s also problematic because you might indent a paragraph for a reason other than quoting someone.

Fortunately, it is possible to manually indent a paragraph without using blockquotes. For example, check this out:

Nine out of ten readers agree that this looks much better than the above blockquote. And the tenth reader is just trying to confuse you.

To manually indent a paragraph (without block-quotes), go into the editor. Insert this line immediately before the section of text you’d like to indent: “<p style=”margin-left: 0.5in; margin-bottom: .2in”>” (just remember to delete the outer quotation marks). Then add “</p>” (without the quotation marks) immediately after you’d like it to stop indenting. Got that?

This is how that should look in an editor:

This is how that short Abraham Lincoln post would look.

Abraham Lincoln is my favorite political orator. His most famous speech is undoubtedly the Gettysburg Address:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.

Don’t you love the Gettysburg Address?

Creating Internal Links

If you remember the beginning of this article, I had a table of contents. For example, if you wanted to go to the section on “Creating Internal Links,” you could have just clicked that link and it would have taken you there.

Adding internal links of your own is theoretically simple but there are a few places you might make a typo. Be careful!

Adding “Links” that Provide Popup Information

The command here is pretty simple. Go to your editor and type in “<a title=”Whatever you want to pop up when your reader holds his cursor over the link.”>Whatever you want the link to read</a>” and, as always, ignore the outer sets of quotes that I have typed.

For example, earlier in this article I used the word “indentation.” What if a few of my readers don’t know what “indentation” means? Well, I might put a link there that sends them to a dictionary definition of “indentation.” That’s fine, but it takes their time and I might lose them there. It might be better to use a dead link that keeps them on this page. For example, hold your cursor over the word “indentation” here and you can see a brief definition.

One final warning on pop-up links. Remember to underline the text or it will be hard for your readers to see where they’re supposed to hold their clicker.

Adding Footnotes

There are two ways to turn superscripted text into footnotes. First, you can turn the superscripted text into fake links that provide pop-up information1. Alternatively, you can use the superscripted text as an internal link to the bottom of the page, where you lay out the footnote in some detail2.

2: This is also pretty simple, but there are a few places you might make a typo. Be careful.

This is how that would read to your viewers.
I really like Abe Lincoln1.

1: He was the 16th President and, more importantly, a hell of
a man. Click here to return.

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