WordPress comes with a built-in excerpt function which is good for user experience and SEO. Working as post summary, excerpts give some clues of the content to your readers landing on the homepage, search results and archives pages without causing duplicate content issues or slowing down your site.
Most WordPress themes are coded to support excerpt. Some of them even generate short excerpts automatically if no manually created excerpts exist. The advantage of this is that you don’t need to bother spending time adding excerpts.
However, the disadvantages are also obvious. For example, the content in the excerpts may not be what you want to show to your readers, and there might be incomplete sentences or words depending on how the theme is developed.
Due to these reasons, some bloggers prefer to create custom excerpts by themselves to gain full control over the content and the length. So in below, we will introduce the simple ways to add custom excerpts in WordPress posts and pages respectively.
Option 1: Use the Default Excerpt Function
On the post editing screen, there is an Excerpt option which is invisible by default. To make use of it, you can create a post or edit any existing one, and then click on the “Screen Options” tab on the upper right of the screen to expand all available options. Now you can find “Excerpt”. Click on it to get the box checked.
Then, scroll the page down, and you can notice a field named “Excerpt” appears under the post editor. You are free to enter whatever you want in the text box with the content length you like. However, we’d suggest you keep a considerable length with about 40 words for the sake of user experience.
The manual excerpt entered here will now be used as the post summary even if the theme has generated one automatically. The next step is to preview the post and check whether the excerpt is displayed properly.
In most cases, there should be no problem with the display, but the rare case that your theme does not support custom excerpts still exists. If this is the issue, you can either modify the theme files or change a theme. For the former method, you have to go through the theme files – archive.php, content.php, category.php, etc – and find the following line.
Then replace the_content tag with the_excerpt.
Option 2: Use the Advanced Excerpt Plugin
In the case that you have trouble with the default WordPress feature but don’t want to deal with code, you can take advantage of plugins. Advanced Excerpt is among the best plugin choices which are easy-to-use and do not require any coding. This plugin has a number of good features, including:
- Controlling excerpt length by word or character count.
- Finishing excerpt with word or sentence, which prevents incomplete word and sentence in the excerpt.
- Adding a read more link to the excerpt. It also allows customizing the read more link text.
- Enabling or disabling custom excerpts.
- Disabling excerpts for certain page types like the homepage, RSS feed, author page and category archive.
Besides, if you have tried Option 1 but failed because of your theme, this plugin can fix the issue automatically.
To make use of these features, you have to install the plugin first, and then go through its settings in Settings > Excerpt. Each option on the settings page is easy-to-understand, so you can just make any change as you like.
As soon as the changes are saved, you can visit your site to see the new excerpts generated by the plugin. Note that if you have written manual excerpts for some posts, you should not check the option for “No Custom Excerpts” as this will override all the manual content.
Option 3: Use Easy Custom Auto Excerpt Plugin
The Easy Custom Auto Excerpt is a special WordPress plugin that will cut or excerpt your blog posts totally based on your needs, without the need to do deal with any coding related task. Now, you can install it and click the Excerpt button from the Settings page.
Firstly, you should set up some general options for this plugin. For instance, you can decide the Excerpt Method based on the paragraph or the character, determine the maximum number of characters allowed for each excerpt, disable or enable the excerpts on RSS feed, choose to display the content image in excerpts and many more.
Now, you can save your settings and check your blog post. Check the difference from the following images. The samples are using the Paragraph method for excerpting.
It is possible that you only want to excerpt some certain pages or posts. This can be configured from the Excerpt Location area.
In addition, as this plugin cuts your content using the “Read More” button, you can fully customize this button to decide the display mood, button text, alignment, font size and skin. There is a preview section that shows how this button will be displayed in the front-end.
Surely, this plugin can give you the great convenience for summarizing your post content. However, it does not give you enough freedom to customize your excerpts using your preferred words. If you care about this aspect, you can consider the last method.
Option 4: Use TLDR Plugin
The TLDR plugin leads a new approach to WordPress excerpts. With it, you can add some short summaries for all your blog posts to reduce the bounce rate for some longer content. No coding knowledge is required. In addition, instead of resulting in the ordinary excerpts that are just some simple text snippets, this plugin also allows you to add some call to actions for these summaries that are non-intrusive and relevant. This is a great method for the improvement of reader engagement.
Upon the plugin installation, now, you can move to the TLDR Settings in your WordPress admin, from which you can decide the feel and look of your post excerpts. To begin with, you’d better remove the TLDR branding to hide the plugin author. Then, you can configure the options of TLDR button and CTA box.
Here, you need to decide the button text to show the full articles or to show the post excerpts. After that, you should determine the button location, color, size, width many more. Also, you can optionally set the bar overlay color and opacity.
Check our example in the following.
CTA Box Options
In this part, you can decide some display options for the call-to-action box, such as the color, font, size, border and the maximum image width.
Now, you can edit your post for adding the excerpts. In the editing screen, there will be two new sections available – Post Summary and Summary CTA. The former area is used to enter your custom excerpts and the latter one is used to display a call-to-action box for the summary. Here, you can choose not to display these two functions optionally for some specific posts.
The excerpts can be edited using the basic formatting. Also, you can add some images, multimedia, links and many more. As for the call to actions, you should give the CTA box a title, the right redirection link, the short description and the button text.