Formatting WordPress pages and posts

This guide on formatting WordPress pages clears up a few nuances that might leave you feeling slightly confused as a WordPress editor.

It will help you to understand the limitations you have as a non web designer.

For a tutorial to WordPress login, click here.

The styles on a WordPress website are set using WordPress themes and ‘stylesheets’ – this includes the font, spacing and colours of text.

This is so that there is continuity across a WordPress site for headings, sub-headings, paragraphs and text links.

You are often able to change the fonts and colours within theme settings.

When a page is updated, the WordPress text editor is used. It’s a text editor much like any other, such as Word or Google Docs.

Within the editor, text can be resized and colours changed.

Unfortunately this is where most go wrong.

Stylising the text within the editor can make the site look messy and adds unwanted code.

Instead of forcing styles from the page editor, stick to the format that has been created by the designer. Use WordPress headings and paragraphs.

Copying and pasting to WordPress

If you copy and paste directly from Word or from another web page the formatting also copies over.

Formatting, in this sense, is code that tells the viewing software how to display things.

If formatting is copied over, you will find the page doesn’t display as expected. It won’t be in symmetry with the rest of the site.

How do you fix this?

Copy text without transferring formatting

Windows users will find NotePad via the Windows button – click the Windows button then use CONTROL-F to search for NotePad.

TextEdit is the Mac alternative to NotePad. Choose to ‘Plain Text’ (Format > Make Plain Text), so that none of the text formatting gets copied over.

NotePad and TextEdit strip the formatting from any text that you paste, producing clean text.

Now you can copy and paste that text back to WordPress.

Copy and paste text to a WordPress page

The low down to copy and paste text to WordPress is as follows:

  • Copy all the text from the original text editor.
  • Open NotePad or TextEdit.
  • Paste the text into a new document.
  • Continuing in NotePad select all of the text (ctrl A or command A).
  • Copy it (ctrl C or command C).
  • Go to WordPress put your cursor in the text editor.
  • Paste the text (ctrl P or command P).

The new text will be free of any unwanted text formatting.

Look out for unwanted text formatting on a page

If your page already has formatting the page may not sit well. You may see unwanted gaps or overlaps.

Look at the code of the page to see if there are random html tags.

  • To the right of the toolbar are the tabs Visual and Text.

Clicking ‘TEXT’ enables you to see the html within the content of that page.

This is the code.

Be careful when you are taking out html tags, as they may have a purpose.

If you are certain you do not want any of the tags a way to wipe the page clean is to select all, then over write everything when you are in Text view.

Using ‘Private Drafts’ in WordPress

The cleanest way to write a post/page is to write it in WordPress itself. This avoids bringing unwanted formatting over on the copy and paste.

Private drafts enable you to write and review your page, without releasing it onto a live site.

The ‘Private Draft’ button is in the Publish box on the right hand side of a new post.

On a post that has already published you won’t see the Private Draft button, but you can still make the post private.

In the Publish box, click Edit on the line labelled Status. Drop the menu down and select Draft, then OK.

The Publish box also allows you to schedule posts for the future, or change the date on a post. Useful if you are bringing something up to date.

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