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Post Formats Explained

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November 13th, 2010
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WordPress, WordPress News

Premiering with WordPress 3.1 some time next month, Post Formats is one of the most talked about and often confusing of the new features. The documentation is beginning to take shape, and a list of Post Formats is being finalized, so what is a Post Format?

Think of Post Formats like categories, but more from a design standpoint than an organizational one. Basically, Post Formats offer a microblogging-style way to assign a specific style to your post based on content. So far, Post Formats are available for asides, audio, chat transcripts, galleries, links, quotes, single images, status updates, and videos. What that means is, if your theme takes advantage of these Post Formats, you will have any easy way to display each format with a unique style. As Otto illustrates, Matt Mullenweg has done this for some time.

Many themes have brought similar functionality tied to specific categories, but what happens when you switch themes? You either need to find one that provides unique styles for the same categories, or you need to deal with the loss of your unique styles. Post Formats are built into the core and standardized across the platform. As long as each theme you use supports Post Formats, your posts will continue to carry on a unique style.

But, don’t we have Custom Post Types already built into the core? Why, yes we do, but they aren’t what you think. To quote Mark Jaquith, “These were poorly named. Think: Custom Content Types.” The so-called Custom Post Types were really designed for things that you never wanted to be associated with posts in the first place, like pages, products, and job listings. Post Formats are designed to simply offer a unique style that highlights the featured content of a post. A link-formatted post will feature just a link and maybe a brief description, an asides-formatted post will feature no title and a few sentences, an image-formatted post will clearly place the image at the fore-front of the post itself, a quote-formatted post will clearly show that┬áthe content is quoted and clearly display a source, etc.

As John James Jacoby explains, this feature has come a long way since Post Types were first introduced in WordPress 2.0, and there’s no doubt that it will be one of the highlights of WordPress 3.1.

What do you think of the new Post Formats feature? Will you be making use of it on your blog?

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  1. gestroud (4 comments.) says:

    I’m kind of confused how this will help the average WP user, but I’m more curious as to where it’s leading.

    Many, many moons ago, there was a plugin called Structured Blogging that allowed users to post a variety of custom posts like book or movie reviews, recipes, events, listings, transcripts, and more by using “micro content.”

    If that’s the way post formats is heading, I think it would be great for a wider group of WP users. If not, it’s still a good thing for some of the WP community.

  2. BGR says:

    Thanks James for explanation.

    Is post type selected in editor on creation of post? Is it a short code? What about seo for asides or link posts, does one still need to fill out meta for custom title keywords etc and are these posts still considered pages that can be crawled for content?

    • James Huff (109 comments.) says:

      You’ll select your post format when writing or editing a post. Here’s a preview of the interface.

      As for SEO, I think that’s going to remain in the realm of plugins and such.

      • BGR (1 comments.) says:

        It looks like all the meta would can still be (optionally) entered like existing posts, just a particular format is selected. OK. The visual of where that takes place was very helpful.

  3. Flick (28 comments.) says:

    I like the idea of post formats :) although I see there is some debate on the Dev blog about whether there should be one for ‘codes’. Someone has posted a screenshot of Tumblr’s approach.

    Looking forward to the new themes that support this feature.

  4. Alan Hughes (1 comments.) says:

    I think they should prioritize making custom post types and taxonomies work better, they have so much potential but have so many quarky problems. Plus you can already create custom templates for them.

  5. Mark (1 comments.) says:

    I’ve been trying to figure out an easy way of doing this on my blog to help with my tweets so, Yes – i’ll be using it lots

  6. Josh says:

    Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to have post format templates built into the core as well – this way post types wouldn’t be dependant on the theme (as much)?



Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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