WordPress Post Formats Guide: What They Are & Why To Use Them

WordPress Post Formats Guide: What They Are & Why To Use Them


Real quick, WordPress post formats are meta information (or ‘tags’) that can be used by themes to customize presentation of a post. Urgh! Meta what? For those not well-versed in developer-speak, we can think of post formats as a feature that allows you to present your posts in different styles. There you have it private, you can put your guns away now.

Post formats expand the micro-blogging face of WordPress as you can create your post as an aside, a status update, a quote, a gallery, a video, a link or an image, and style each to your heart’s content. Bottom line: The post formats feature makes WordPress a more complete blogging platform.

Think of it this way. You can share an external link that befits your readers, create Twitter-like updates, build amazing galleries, and share unforgettable quotes among other things with a single click. Suffice to say, if your theme supports WordPress post formats, you can customize how each format looks even if the developer has done that for you already.

WordPress Post Formats

In essence, you are creating a normal post, but the post formats feature allows you to tune said post into an aside, video, image, gallery, link etc. without doing too much work. You don’t even need to create categories – as it were in the past – to style your posts differently.

Without a doubt, the content you input for each of the formats is slightly different. We mean, a gallery post will contain a couple of pictures (or the gallery shortcode), a video post will contain a third-party or self-hosted video, a link post should have a link to an external resource and so on and so forth.

Post formats were an interesting addition to WordPress 3.1, meaning they have been around for a while now. Most (if not all) developers are aware of this fact, but most beginners (you, perhaps?) have never heard of post formats. This is especially true if you use a theme that does not support post formats.

However, even if you purchased themes that support this powerful but neglected feature, post formats don’t occupy a prominent position in the WordPress post editor, explaining why they go unnoticed most of the time. If we are to get down to the basics though, the post format feature is simply a custom taxonomy, with a standardized set of formats. Or as Otto puts it:

Post Formats is just a taxonomy. It’s a set of adjectives, describing the nouns that are the posts. So now we have “aside posts” and “gallery posts” and “chat posts” and “video posts” and so on. – Otto Wood, Post Types and Formats and Taxonomies, Oh My!

Available post formats are:

  • Gallery to create, well, galleries
  • Link to create posts that link to external resources right from the title
  • Aside to create asides (one or two paragraphs max, probably with/without a title)
  • Image for…well…image posts genius
  • Quote for that one quote you simply can’t wait to share with your readers
  • Status because updates are no longer reserved for Facebook and Twitter
  • Chat so you can post chat transcripts whenever
  • Video for video post and embeds
  • Audio because, at times, listening makes more sense than reading

Outline of WordPress Post Formats

How about we delve deeper and discover what you can achieve with each of the above post formats.

Standard Post Format

If you have ever used WordPress to publish a post, you are one among the lucky few who have used the standard post format. How lucky you are in deed. This post format is the default post format for all posts. We can think of it as the elementary post format whether or not your theme support post formats. And why shouldn’t your theme support post formats seeing they have been around since good ole “Reinhardt” rode into town?

So whenever you create a post – with or without galleries, videos, quotes, video or images – you’re essentially using the standard post format. Probably why they named it the “standard” post format. That’s right, and keep creating awesome content so you can grow that base.

Gallery

What did you say? Let’s take a selfie first? We all love photos, don’t we? We love showing off our summer bods, exotic trips, your animal friend le dog, Starbucks cups with misspelled names, the newest gadgets in town, and I could go on and on if Instagram wasn’t so popular.

Guess what? Your website could use a splash of color too. If you’d like to add a gallery as a WordPress post, you can rely on the gallery post format. Just don’t forget to label your images appropriately and add the alt tag. I hear that sort of thing is great for WordPress SEO.

Aside

A long time ago, I read somewhere you can seek inspiration from your comment section to write highly engaging content. Goes something like this: Find a great comment (or two) and create a discussion post around it. Get my drift?

Well, you could reference to the comment using the quote post format, write a 4000-word standard post or simply allude to the fact you care about your readers with a carefully placed aside. After all, an aside is supposed to provide an extra bit of information – something lengthier than a quote but way shorter than a standard post.

Chat Post Format

Now why would anyone want to put up a chat transcript on their blog? Surprisingly, there are many reasons. Three come to mind immediately. Perhaps you would like to showcase your support chops, and post up a recent chat session between you and a happy customer. Testimonials work too, but “hey you, here is a chat transcript showing I’ll support the hell out of you as my customer!”

Perhaps you were hacked a couple of days ago and now can’t sleep until you shame the guys who offered slipshod support when your ship was sinking. OMG, who else is thinking of Titanic? Anywho, you download the chat transcript (they actually allow you to email yourself a copy) and shout from the rooftops. They hear you out, and promise to buy you a birthday cake, but you don’t follow up because the world doesn’t revolve around you and you have another goose to roast.

Perhaps this other goose is your sudden and uncontrollable urge to publish one of those plays you so loved back in middle school. Point is, these are just few among the many ways you can put the chat post format into good use.

Link Post Format

The internet is quite the resourceful place you’ll agree. You can fall into a treasure trove at any given time. I’m talmbout coming across a resource that you know will excite your readers to high heavens. What to do? You can bookmark the page, come back to it later and create a similar resource, but we all know how that goes. Needless to say, your great resource might be old news or non-existent by the time you return.

If you’re pressed for time, or simply can’t create a similar resource, you can do your readers a favor by sharing your new-found treasure on your blog. How? Simply use the link post format. Just add the title of the link, the URL and choose “Link” from the Format menu. Oh wait, you can add your own commentary if you want.

Image Post Format

A Picture Post Format is Wprth 1000 Words

A picture speaks a 1,000 words, right?

I will let you figure out what the image post format does all by yourself. Deal? Great.

Video Post Format

Do you have the slightest idea how many people watch videos online? A recent research by Hubspot – yes, those inbound marketing guys – reveals that a third of all online activity is spent watching video. Say what? That’s a staggering figure my friend. If you’re up for the ride, here are a couple more facts:

  • You can increase your conversion rates by 80% if you include a video on your landing page,
  • About 92% of mobile users share videos with friends and family,
  • If your blood isn’t rushing yet, 90% of users say that product videos are helpful in the decision process, and
  • Mobile video consumption rises 100% every year, according to YouTube

Have you watched a video today? Exactly my point! No? You’ll probably watch one before the day ends. I could throw these stats at your face all day long, but point is: Video is good. So good the guy behind The Dollar Beard Club banks on videos to build a multi-million dollar brand. There’s that other ViralNova guy, what’s is his name? Scott? Yes, Scott. Anybody mentioned YouTube? YouTube doesn’t even create the videos. It’s all generated by the user base. Ahem.

You can harness the power of videos to drive your marketing thanks to the video post format. If you need more room to breath, you can look into a landing page solution such as Thrive Leads, or our very own Appy Mobile Landing Page (built with the Total theme) that takes you closer to your readers.

Quote Post Format

As a fellow voyager (God, I love that word; makes me feel like I’m on one of those USS Enterprise space ships) through the vast universe that’s the internet, I have seen a good number of quote sites that pull a lot of weight because, guess what, people love quotes. Yes, motivational quotes, billionaire quotes, Chuck Norris quotes, love quotes and quotes about this and that.

Perhaps launching a quote site sends chills up your spine. It’s not your cup of tea per se, but perhaps you would like to inspire your readers with a motivational quote from time to time. You know, something like:

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever. – Mahatma Gandhi

You could even describe your quotes with a couple of words because – quote post format. The above is my favorite quote by the way. Do you have a pick-me-up quote you love throwing around whenever? Yes? Share in the comments.

Audio Post Format

Podcasts and audio books are awesome because you can listen to your favorite speaker/author whenever and wherever. In low moods? Hate listening to the hum of human activity at the mall? Don’t know what to do when you’re driving? Listen to an enlightening podcast. Need some WordPress advice? There’s definitely a podcast for you buddy.

There are podcasts and audio books for virtually every topic under the sun, and they are popular. Heck, you can even listen as authors regale you with tales from 600-page novels these days.

Audio books and podcasts are popular because all you have to do is press play and enjoy. No turning pages here mate. But how do online publishers, like yourself, get their podcasts and audio books (or any other audio file) in front of their beloved listeners?

Sure, some publishers depend on Amazon. Others hire developers to write special code because, among other reasons, they swim in money. You could bootstrap, run with WordPress audio post format and tell the entire world your story. Sing us a tune perhaps, or play us something from your favorite band. Make a playlist even, because we want audio and we want it now! Okay, I will stop.

Status Post Format

Status updates are no longer the preserve of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. They are everywhere you look, and WordPress holds that flag high with the status post format. Nothing much to say here other than status post format is similar to an aside, but much more about a simple one-line status. And no, it isn’t a quote.

Post Formats versus Post Types

Just so you may not get befuddled when you chance upon these two features, let us point out the difference between WordPress post formats and WordPress post types.

Post formats allow you to display posts in different styles depending on the effect you wish to achieve. For example, you might want your quotes to look different from your asides, your image posts different from your video posts and so on. Still, you’d be working with normal blog posts.

Over to WordPress post types or content types according to Mark Jaquith. A standard blog post is a specific post type. A page on your WordPress site is another post type. Your navigation is also a post type, and so is an attachment. Your developer might throw in a couple of custom post types such as Portfolio, Testimonials, and Products for good measure.

One thing is apparent here. A post type revolves around non-post content i.e. pages, menus, attachments etc. Post formats are all about styling or “formatting” the blog post, which, by the way, is a post type to begin with.

WordPress ships with posts and pages as the main post types. You can add your own custom post types, and there are no limits as to the number. Since WordPress 3.1, we were treated to nine post formats. You cannot add your own post formats, but can use the existing post formats in your custom post types, but that’s story for another day.

Finally, custom post types usually appear on the left admin menu, but post formats appear within the WordPress post editor (yes, the screen where you write your posts).

To sum it all up, post formats give you more control over how to display the post post type. Get it? Good. Now let’s move on, and discover how we can support post formats in your theme. Remember, post formats are built into the WordPress core; you simply need to activate them in your theme.

How to Setup WordPress Post Formats

Setting up post formats is pretty much straightforward a process. Just add a function to WordPress listing which post formats you desire to use, and you’re golden. If you’re creating your own WordPress theme the code below goes in your functions.php file. If you’re adding post formats to an existing theme be sure to use a child theme as this protects your custom styles whenever you update your theme.

With that preamble, let’s do this. Start by creating your “functions.php” file in your theme’s directory, that is if you don’t have one already. Just use a text editor (hello, Notepad++ or Sublime Text?) to create a plain-text file named “functions” with an open <?php tag at the beginning and save it with the .php extension. Ensure you get the extension part right.

Add the following code to functions.php:

function wpexplorer_add_post_formats() {
	add_theme_support( 'post-formats', array(
		'gallery',
		'quote',
		'video',
		'aside',
		'image',
		'link',
		'status',
		'audio',
		'chat'
	) );
}
add_action( 'after_setup_theme', 'wpexplorer_add_post_formats' );

Save changes, and upload this file to your theme.

The above code will activate all post formats for your pleasure. If you create a new post, you’ll see these post formats in a radio-button list to the right of the WordPress post editor.

If your theme didn’t support post formats from the beginning, chances are you’ll need to add custom styles for each post format using CSS (as well as potentially alter the templates). This is easy stuff though.

As long as your theme is correctly using the post_class function to add post and entry classes, you can target elements by their post format class to add custom CSS. Since the post_class function will add class names (such as .format-quote) to make it possible to edit your enabled formats. The only requirement is that you ill need to know CSS basics.

If you want to conditionally alter your template parts there is a function called get_post_format that will allow you to retrieve the current format of the post. Keep in mind if there’s no post format assigned it will return an empty value.

WordPress Themes with Post Formats

Now that you can add post formats support to just about any theme under the sun, how about we make your work easier with a short list of themes that come pre-loaded with post formats? List is great for you too, if you have no idea what or who CSS is.

Hueman WordPress Theme

Hueman WordPress Theme

Brought to you by Press Customizr, Hueman is a free WordPress theme that gives free as well as premium themes a run for their money.

PressCustomizr says Hueman is “…a fully featured, responsive, high resolution magazine and blog theme without compromise. Hueman presents what you have to write about in a visual and user-friendly way on all devices.”

Truly, your online magazine or blog could use a little post format magic. This baby ships with support for all post formats, and a slew of other sweet features that are hard to ignore.

Total WordPress Theme

Total WordPress Theme

We take design seriously here at WPExplorer, which is why we make themes we take much pride in. Case in point is the Total Responsive Multi-Purpose WordPress theme that will blow your wig off.

Don’t take my word for it, feel free to take a look at the extensive list of features that include WordPress post formats. On top of allowing you to choose varying post formats depending on your needs, Total comes with additional post settings that enable you to change aspects such as post background, callouts, media, title and headers among others. Your posts will pack a punch, and that’s a guarantee.

Theme has a supreme rating of 4.82/5.00 and about 19k happy customers at the time of writing. Couple that with incredible support and it’s perfectly okay to say you’re in safe hands. I have watched this theme grow, and boy am I impressed or what.

Matala WordPress Theme

Matala WordPress Theme

Oh, what a beauty this is. Color is the name of the game, and Matt Mullenweg (yes, he made it) doesn’t hold back here. Matala is best known for features such as six post formats (you can add more; you just learned how), two widget areas, colorful textured design, and several customization options including custom headers, random galleries on single image pages and much more. It’s 100% free at WordPress.org

Socialize WordPress Theme

Socialize WordPress Theme

Hello BuddyPress lovers. Are you in the market for a WordPress theme made specifically for social networking and community sites? If that’s a yes, we have just the theme for you. Say hello to Socialize, one of the best premium BuddyPress themes on the market.

On top of all the features you need to bring your community site back to life, Socialize ships with all post formats to ensure users have a great time on your site. Of course, you can use Socialize to build any other site imaginable since it 100% flexible. I would love to go through the features with you, but this isn’t that post.

The best part is this bad boy is $70 bucks only, a reasonable price for a professional community style website.

Gridlocked WordPress Theme

Gridlocked WordPress Theme

Let’s now talk about a portfolio theme that’s like no other. Ladies and gents, we introduce Gridlocked by Themezilla, a power elite author and developer extraordinaire.

Work within creative circles? If so, you obviously need a theme that will help you to showcase your work in style. You can draw reader attention to your work or your blog and jazz up the whole shebang with self-hosted videos, images, audio, galleries, quotes, links and asides. A mega-menu that slides down upon prompting is an added plus.

Professional, simple and minimalistic without looking too clinical for the portfolio part, and interactive and fun at the same time, almost like tumblr for the blog part. FINALLY what I was looking for it’s here. Thank you so much. – Octaview

Theme has a great rating of 4.43/5.00 and will set you back $54 bucks only.

Other honorable mentions include:

  • SimpleMag, a magazine theme by ThemesIndep (Rating: 4.77/5.00; Cost: $59 bucks; Sales: 12k+)
  • Bigbang, a responsive WordPress template by Brankic1979 (Rating: 4.46/5.00; Cost: $49 bucks; Sales: 10k+)
  • Scope by Themezilla (Rating: 4.51/5.00; Cost: $54 bucks; Sales: 5.7k+)
  • Scroller by Dannci (Rating: 4.42/5.00; Cost: $49 bucks; Sales: 3.7k+)
  • Throne by Meks (Rating: 4.89/5.00; Cost: $49 bucks; Sales: 2.2k+)

To Wind Up…

The WordPress post formats feature gives you the power you’ve always needed to add a little style; a little oomph; a little pizzazz to your blog. It’s just so sad a lot of WordPress users never use post formats to break monotony and supercharge their posts.

We hope this post inspires you to take action and create magic with your blog. Have something to add to the conversation? Please wow us in the comments. See you around!



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