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.
Add Custom Excerpts to WordPress Posts
Regarding this issue, there are two choices open to you, both of which are easy-to-handle. You can select either one based on your needs.
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.
Add Custom Excerpts to WordPress Pages
The default WordPress excerpt feature only applies to posts. However, some themes may also have enabled excerpts on pages. If you want the excerpt support for pages but do not have a proper theme, you can still get it done by adding the following code in the functions.php file of your theme.
Also, there is an alternative solution – to use a WordPress plugin. At present, there are two plugins that can help you add the same excerpt feature of WordPress posts to pages, which are Page Excerpt and Excerpts for Pages. These plugins have almost the same functionality.
The former hasn’t been updated for a while, but it still has over 10,000 active installs due to the ease of use. It can function in the latest version of WordPress properly. For this plugin, there is no settings page, so you only have to install and activate it. Then you can find an “Excerpt” option in the Screen Options panel just like what you see on the editing screen of any WordPress post.