Last month, I posted a break down the basics of WordPress's new update, fueled by software labeled Gutenberg. This month, I'm exploring formatting options, and next month I'll give you a few hacks and plugins you might want to use.
Again the new format is laid out in blocks, which are simply boxes that can hold text, images, links, or combinations. The default box is a paragraph, but you can choose other options by clicking on the plus-sign toward the top left corner of your screen or the change block type option on the block menu itself. We covered text and images last time, but you have a lot of formatting options available and ways to customize them.
For every formatting option below, the right-hand sidebar gives you the opportunity to change the text color or the color behind text. So just assume going forward that you have that feature. However, you cannot select just a little bit of text and color that. Rather, selecting a color will change the color of all text within a block.
Here's an example of what happens if I select blue Inline Text Colour (yes, WP uses British spelling) for a paragraph block.
If I choose the Inline Background Colour, this is the result.
For Writers in the Storm, we disliked being unable to select text within a sentence and change its color. Particularly since this is a primary feature of Laura Drake's fabulous first page critiques! So we installed a plugin that allows us to choose different colors within a block. The one we used is called Advanced Rich Text Tools for Gutenberg.
Now on to specific formatting choices.
If you select Heading for your block, you'll get larger text for subtitles. But within Heading, your choices range from H1 through H6. Some of those choices show up in the block menu, but once you click the block you can see more heading sizes in the right sidebar.
Additionally, you can align the text left, right, or center. Here are the heading options, all left-justified:
Of course, what they look like on your website depends on the template and fonts you're using, but you can at least get a notion of the differences among the heading sizes.
You can use Quote to emphasize text.
This is a regular-sized quote.This line at the bottom is for a citation.
But you can alter the quote default as well on that right sidebar after you've chosen the Quote option.
This is a large-sized quote.And the bottom line again for a citation.
Of course, we still have lists, which we bloggers often enjoy using.
- Once you change the block to List, you don't have many options on the right sidebar.
- But you can indent...
- Or outdent a list item.
- And you can make it a numbered list as well
- All these options being available in the block menu itself
- Which you can get to simply by clicking anywhere within the block
A Pullquote provides even more emphasis. You see this a lot in nonfiction books, where some point the author wants to stress gets "pulled out" from the regular text and featured on its own. Again, you have two choices in the right-hand sidebar.
Verse is another option.
Now when I chose Verse, the text in the editor
May look the same as a paragraph.
But if you keep typing, you'll see that it's not.
The wrap-text function doesn't work
Because Verse is intended for exactly that—
Writing in verse, or poetry.
Because of that, Verse does not advance to a new block
When you press the Return key.
It merely goes to the next line.
If you want a new block, you have to move the cursor down
And add a new block below the current one.
Let's say you want to add a picture with a text overlay within a blog post. This could be for a title or another way to create a pullout quote. You can choose Cover formatting, upload a photo, and change the text on top. Not only that, but you can filter the photo, provide a color overlay, change the text color.
So this is an original photo I uploaded with a text overlay.
But then I chose a bluish overlay and changed the text color for a different effect.
Cover doesn't give a ton of photo options, but it's a much quicker way to grab a picture, add text, and make a few changes than heading over to PicMonkey, Canva, or your PhotoShop software and fiddling around.
This feature simply allows you to easily create a table within a post. Once you click on Table, you'll be asked how many columns and rows you want:
But there are four rows, you say! Yes, because I added one. Once in a Table block, the block menu provides an Edit Table icon. Clicking that gives you options to add to and delete from your table.
In the right sidebar are the usual color options, but if you scroll down you'll see an option to have fixed width cells. If you don't choose that, the widths of columns will vary as you type in them, just as mine did above.
One last option I want to cover is embedding. If you click on the circled plus-sign at the top right corner, and scroll down to Embeds, you'll see a whole bunch of choices. You can now embed something directly from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Spotify, Hulu, Scribd, Slideshare, and more.
Let's say I want to embed a tweet from WITS's Jenny Hansen. I select Embed, Twitter, and enter the tweet's URL and voila!
That was easy-peasy! But admittedly, I tried the same trick with Facebook several times over and couldn't get the embed to work. (I blame Facebook... for pretty much everything.)
Meanwhile, YouTube and TED Talks work just fine.
I didn't try all of the embeds, but you can! There's even an option for Kickstarter, if you have a fundraiser you're wanting to promote through your website.
As you can see, some changes to WordPress require extra navigation, either to find things which are now in different places or because there are some glitches (text color, for instance). But there are also some really great additions here with all the formatting choices. We authors can choose and use what works for us!
What other questions do you have about the new WordPress format? Or how can we talk you off the ledge?
Julie Glover would far prefer to write books and leave the technology questions to her computer-savvy sons. But necessity is the mother of
frustration despair invention.
When not wrangling with software, Julie writes mysteries and young adult fiction. Her YA contemporary novel, SHARING HUNTER, finaled in the 2015 RWA® Golden Heart®. She is represented by Louise Fury of The Bent Agency.