How to create a read more tag for your posts

Read more tag on fists

© David Blackwell, Read More, via Flickr

Have you noticed that some blog listings pages only show the beginning of posts?

This is the case with this and my other blog, and it is because of the theme I use.

Showing a blog post snippet

You can see that only the first three lines are shown, and a nice 'Read more' button is offered to entice you to read the rest of the post.

However, with WordPress.com blogs, you probably find all your posts are presented in full on your listings page.

There is an ongoing debate about whether you should show all your posts in full on your blog post listing page, or whether it is better to abbreviate them as above.

Personally I prefer showing all that my post has to offer, as it may encourage readers to scan and then read them. It's like presenting all your wares on your shop's counters, rather than keeping most of what you have to offer in the stock cupboard.

But if your theme doesn't allow this, there isn't much you can do unless you are prepared to enter the world of code to sort it out!

But I want a 'Read more' button

If you have a WordPress.com blog (or even a WordPress.org blog that allows full post presentation) and you want to create your 'Read more' call to actions yourself, there is a simple way.

The first thing you might think of would be to the Reading Settings (accessed under Settings in the left sidebar) and change from 'Full Text' to 'Summary':

Changing Full Text to Summary

But you'd be wrong.

This doesn't work any more. I know, because I have tried with a variety of blogs, under a variety of themes, with no success.

Therefore I can only assume this is now redundant.

So, you'll have to do this manually using the read more tag. Which is not such a bad thing, as you'll have more control where they will be placed within your text.

Let me introduce the read more tag

If you look at what I call the 'kitchen sink', the editing icons above the text box where you write your post, you'll find this icon in between the cancel link and spell check icons:

Where the read more tag can be found

This will allow you to create your own read more tag links, but only in a text format:

Showing a more tag in place

And you won't have a choice in the words used either. You're stuck with 'Continue reading' whether you like it or not.

However, this is a good call to action, so you can live with it.

First, write your post as normal. Then you decide where to break your post for the read more tag, and place your cursor there:

Place cursor where break happens

Then click on the read more tag icon:

Click on Read More tag icon

And this will appear in your post:

Read more tag inserted

This is the visual representation of your read more tag so you can easily identify it.

If you preview your post (click on the Preview button in the Publish menu box):

Click on the preview button

You'll see that your post will look totally normal for your readers:

Read more tag not shown in previewed post

And the read more tag link will only appear in the blog listings page after you've published your post.

You'll find this feature particularly useful if your posts have an infographic at the beginning, like I do in my other blog, and the listings page shows the code you add with it, which isn't very appealing to your readers:

Showing inappropriate code in the listings

So a strategically placed read more tag:

Positioning a read more tag above an infographic

Will sort this out:

Showing the use of the more tag with infographics

Ah, that's much better!

Now go and experiment with using a read more tag, and let me know how you get on.

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Alice Elliott writes the Beginner Bloggers blog for beginner and post-beginner bloggers to “explain things really simply” about blogging and WordPress. She specialises in simple, easy to understand, highly visual courses and tutorials using ordinary, everyday words. Why not also visit her award winning Fairy Blog Mother blog to learn some more.

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