Settings for Writing to a WordPress Blog

On the Settings Tab click on Writing to get to the Writing Settings. Default settings for writing a post or page are specified here.

Settings in WordPress for writing a blog post.

Choose a larger or smaller Post box (which appears on the write post or write page screens where you enter your content), by altering the default value of 10 to the number of lines you wish.

Under ‘Formatting’ you’ll probably want to keep the defaults as is, but feel free to change them, of course. When the box for ‘Convert emoticons like :-) and :-P to graphics on display’ is checked, you’ll see smiley faces, like 🙂 and 😛 in your posts where you type the symbols for emoticons. If you’d rather not have the cute little faces in your posts, you don’t have to. Unless you already know what you’re doing, leave the box ‘WordPress should correct invalidly nested XHTML automatically’ unchecked.

Default post and link categories are selected on the Writing Settings page. With a brand new blog you’ll have one category called ‘Uncategorized’, so you should learn how to make your own categories that fit into your blog’s theme. To help organize your thoughts each post to your blog should have a main topic, and maybe a few other related topics, which WordPress calls Categories.

To set up your WordPress blog categories choose Manage from the main menu, then select Categories from the sub-menu.

Add new, edit existing and manage categories for blog posts.

From the Manage Categories page you can add, delete or edit your blog’s categories. Click on ‘add new’ or scroll down to ‘Add Category’.

Add new categories to keep your WordPress blog posts organized.

Basically, fill in the blanks here. Specify a category name, but realize that category names usually appear on your blog as links so you’ll want to keep the name short, one word if possible. Enter a URL-friendly name for the category slug, where the category name has been cleaned up to contain only lowercase letters, numbers and hyphens.

The category parent may or may not be important to the structure of your blog. If you have a category that naturally contains other categories, specify the top-level category under ‘Category Parent’. For instance, if you’re blogging about things you like to eat, your parent category ‘Fruit’ may contain the child categories of strawberries and kiwi, and your Veggie parent category may contain peppers and squash.

Each category can be given a description, but not too many WordPress themes will show category descriptions, so this is not a high priority.

Don’t forget to click on ‘Add Category’ at the bottom of the Manage Categories page to actually add your new category.

Let’s say that you’ve gone ahead and entered several categories that you think will apply to your blog posts. Then you make several posts to your blog and find out that some of the categories don’t really apply. Trim down the number of categories from the Manage Categories page. Check off the box next to a category that you no longer need and click on “Delete” near the top of the Manage Categories page. Poof! The category no longer exists, but take note:

Deleting a category does not delete the posts in that category. Instead, posts that were only assigned to the deleted category are set to the default category.

Remember, the default category is selected on the Writing Settings page (that you reach from Writing within the Settings Tab).

The default category is selected on the Writing Settings page.

Don’t forget to click on “Save Changes’ on the bottom of the page after you’ve modified the default category or the changes won’t stick.

Perhaps you have several posts under a certain category name and need to edit the category name or description. Just click on the name of a category from the ‘Manage Categories’ page and you’ll find yourself at, you guessed it, the ‘Edit Category’ page for the category that you selected. Fill in new information and click on the ‘Edit Category’ button to keep the changes.

The default Link Category and assignment or editing of Link Categories is very similar to that for Categories. The default link category is called ‘Blogroll’, but you can assign other link categories. Manage your link categories by going to the Manage main menu and then the ‘Link Categories’ sub-menu to reach the ‘Manage Link Categories’ page.

From here you can add a link category by entering the appropriate info and clicking on ‘Add Category’. Edit a link category by clicking on a link category name. Then fill-in your info on the ‘Edit Category’ page making sure to hit the ‘Edit Category’ button to keep the changes.

The default Link Category is also specified on the Settings/Writing page.

General Settings for a WordPress Blog

Setting up a WordPress blog is not too hard, and once it’s set up you can change everything about it. Login to your Dashboard and click on ‘Settings’ near the top right. Sub-headings on the Settings page include General, Writing, Reading, Discussion, Privacy, Permalinks and Miscellaneous.

General settings for a WordPress blog.

General Settings is the place to identify your blog’s title, subtitle or tagline, its address and your administration contact email address. Pretty straightforward, eh?

Tick the box “Anyone can register” if you want it to be so. If you don’t want just anyone to be able to leave comments on your blog, check off the box “Users must be registered and logged in to comment.”

If you’ve decided to allow people to subscribe to, write for, edit or administer your blog, select the default user role here. Progressively higher capabilities are given to roles beyond that of subscriber.

Finally, date and time formats are specified on the General Settings page. Select your local timezone as compared to UTC, chose the date and time formats, and pick the day that starts your week. Notice the link to documentation on date formatting if you’re not sure how to alter the date or time formats to suit your style. Get more date and time codes from the php manual.

General settings page holds default date and time formats and hours offset from UTC.

Don’t forget to click on ‘Save Changes’ to keep your new selections. Once you save your settings, the same page returns with a colorful banner that lets you know that the new settings were indeed saved.

Bright banner shows that settings were properly saved.

So, now you know to use the General Settings page to modify your blog’s title and subtitle, and to specify your admin contact email address, as well as manage your blog’s date and time features.

Making Your First Blog Post with WordPress v2.5.1

The change in the WordPress Dashboard from version 2.3 to 2.5 is impressive. Right away I liked the clean look and the color choice was pleasing to the eyes. The style of the admin pages for managing the blog match the style of the wordpress website. Perhaps they went together on prior versions, but now they look like they belong together.

A few images of the dashboard will show you some of the features in this newest version of WordPress.

The Dashboard in WordPress, version 2.5

Once logged in you’ll be shown the Dashboard where you can reach all parts of your blog. Major menu items include Write, Manage, Design and Comments. At the very top right there are links for logging out, getting help and visiting the WordPress forum.

Clicking on your username, at the top right, brings up your profile page where you can modify personal options, such as your choice of color scheme and your contact info.

Modify user profile options here.

Probably the most helpful thing to know about your profile is that this is where you can re-set your own password. New here is the password strength checker – a nice touch. Remember to hit Update Profile at the bottom of the screen to make your changes stick.

Re-setting your password is as simple as filling in the blanks at your user profile. Don\'t forget to hit \'Update Profile\' when you\'re ready.

Notice that the ‘Users’ tab is highlighted. Clicking on ‘Authors & Users’, on the top left, brings up a page where you can add a new user, enter their contact info and choose their role.

Roles specify the capabilities of a given user and range from administrator, who has all capabilities, down to subscriber, who can merely read and comment on your blog. Intermediate roles of editor, author and contributor have fewer capabilities than the administrator.

Add new users and manage existing ones via the User tab.

Going back to the Dashboard, notice the “Right Now” feature that is sort of in your face. Well, that’s its real purpose – to alert you to the latest of ongoings in your blog. The number of posts, pages, categories, tags, the current theme and version of WordPress are indicated with links to edit each one. Big buttons are here for easy access to write a page or to write a post.

Latest happenings on your blog are featured under \'Right Now\' on the Dashboard.

Further down the Dashboard are sections for handling comments, incoming links and plugins. Also on the dashboard are links to the latest writings of some of the top WordPress developers. Scan through these posts for the most up-to-date news on WordPress.

Finally, you can always reach more info about WordPress by going to the footer and clicking on WordPress or Documentation. Keep reading and keep learning!

WordPress links at the bottom of each admin page will take you to WordPress places on the Internet for help.

To make a blog entry click on ‘Write a New Post’ from the Dashboard, or select ‘Write’ from the main menu. Simply enter a title, some text in the ‘Post’ box and, at the right of your screen, click on ‘Save’ if you’re not ready to publish the post or click on ‘Publish’ if you are ready.

The \'Write Post\' screen where you enter your blog postings.

Even if you haven’t used a word processor before now, embellishing your post is easy. Just click on B and your words will be bold, click on I and they’re italicized, and so on. For a fast reminder of what each button at the top of the Post box does, just hover your mouse pointer over it and a tool tip will remind you.

Tool tips appear when you hover your pointer on a button at the top of the Post box.

Make lists, justify your text, add an image and even check your spelling with a single click. Check out the options for adding other media to your post.

Four buttons at the top of the Post box are ready to help you add images, video, audio or other media. The wait might not be worth it if you don’t have a broadband connection, but give it a try anyway.

Buttons at the top of the Post box let you easily add media to your blog posts.

Not enough options for you? Check this out…click on the button that looks kinda like a keyboard and you’ll get the kitchen sink!

Turn on the kitchen sink to get more writing options.

Go ahead, hover around and see what else you can do easily by toggling features on and off.

Lots of writing options are available for spicing up your WordPress blog posts.

If you’re into the code, click on HTML at the top right of the Post box and you’ll see a new set of buttons for the html tags that you can enter or close with a single click.

Know the code? Click on HTML to see the tags behind the goodness.

Click Publish and you’re done! Go and visit your blog to see your post.

Upgrade Your WordPress Blog to the Latest Version

Ready to take the plunge and finally upgrade your WordPress blog to the latest version? It’s not that bad and, actually, when I upgraded from version 2.3 to 2.5.1 I had a pleasant experience. It’s funny that I put off upgrading the blogging software just in case I had trouble with it. I didn’t want to spend the time dinkering around. Turns out that I didn’t need to worry because the upgrade was breeze.

Follow these helpful backup and upgrade steps to update your WordPress blog to the latest and most secure version.