HOW TO – Apply Formatting to Your Blog Posts

Composing Long and/or Formatted Posts

If you’re planning to write the kind of blog post you’re putting so much work into that you’d be devastated to lose it, I HIGHLY recommend that you compose the analysis in a text editor on your computer and save it frequently.

This also applies to any blog post that you plan to apply formatting to. If you apply formatting in a word processing app like Word, most of it will not carry over to a blog post because Word uses formatting codes that printers can understand, while blog posts use formatting codes that web browsers can understand.

Applying Formatting Options

When the text is ready, create a new post on the blog and paste the text into the post editing box. Then you can apply formatting options like headers and sub-headers, bold or italics, color, bulleted lists, and so on, using the WordPress toolbars. But please read the sections below before you choose heading levels (including why you shouldn’t choose level 1).

In the Visual editor, the toolbar includes buttons like you might see in any WYSIWYG editor. In the HTML editor, the toolbar includes buttons for a few basic HTML codes, but you can apply others by hand, if you know HTML.

At first the Visual editor shows only one row of buttons, but you make the second row permanently visible by clicking on the button shown in the screenshot below.

Wp formatting options

Understanding Formatting Options

Although the Visual editor helps you get a general idea of what your formatting choices will look like, this editor uses only the standard version of each formatting element. When the post appears on the “front end” of the blog, you’ll see that some formatting elements look different.

The reason these elements look different is that every blog’s appearance is determined by the theme the blog owner chose for it. Each theme comes with default settings for formatting elements, but some blog owners create “child” themes in order to further customize these settings, which are contained in a special file called a CSS style sheet.

For my class blogs I created a “child theme” based on the popular Coraline theme for WordPress. Among the many changes I made to the original theme, the most significant are the changes to the CSS style sheet, which I made so that most formatting elements would better match my preferences for style and readability.

Understanding Heading Levels

When you want to apply headers or sub-headers for sections in your post, DO NOT USE Heading 1, as that will produce headers that are as large as the page title.

Instead, use Heading 2 for major headings and Header 4 for sub-headings. I’ve customized these headings so that they work nicely together to create readable pages, as you can see on syllabus and calendar entry pages. I recommend against using Heading 3, as I often customize that to be the same size as Heading 2 but in black rather than colored text and with no line underneath.

(I’ll add more details to this page as I have time)