Manual excerpts are helpful

A close up of a page of handwritten Old German text. The ink is dark and the paper looks brown with age.

Manual excerpts are a kind of metadata about your articles. They work mostly as short summaries of your posts. And if you get good at writing them, you will see this data appear in a number of places.

Where the excerpts show up depends a little bit on how your site is configured and also how users access your site content.

Sometimes they appear in RSS feeds. They will usually show up any place there’s a list of your posts, like on the section and topic pages, as well as your main blog. On these kinds of archive pages, manual excerpts help users scan and find the content they’re looking for.

And in many cases, your manual excerpts will get used to represent your posts in other places on the web, like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and any place your content is searched for, or shared.1

How do you write them?

If you don’t manually write your excerpts, then often your first couple sentences will automatically get used as the excerpt. This is sometimes okay, but the first couple sentences aren’t generally the best summary of your article.

In WordPress the option to create a manual excerpt is found right in the post editor, and similarly for other kinds of content.2

They do not need to be very long. They function as a summary and a teaser, so we tend to write one or two sentences. For this post, we written this:

Manual excerpts are an important part of your articles. They work mostly as short summaries. And if you get good at writing them, they will help your website…

Manual excerpts in WordPress editor.

Notes

  1. In many cases your manual excerpt will be used as a meta description and in open graph data.
  2. Manual excerpts are not always configured for pages, but they’re helpful for pages too.

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