What is Excerpt in WordPress? How to Add Excerpt in Posts

Adding excerpts to your WordPress site is one of the best ways to improve both user experience and search engine optimization. As an experienced webmaster, I want to provide you with an in-depth guide to fully utilizing excerpts.

What is an Excerpt?

An excerpt is essentially a summary or preview of a blog post. Displaying excerpts allows you to show abbreviated versions of your content in places like:

  • Archive pages
  • Category pages
  • Search results
  • RSS feeds

Instead of showing full posts, you can display a short intro excerpt to encourage visitors to read the entire article.

Key Benefits of Using Excerpts

Taking the time to add excerpts provides some major benefits:

  • Faster load times – Less content to load means faster page speeds. Studies show 53% of visitors abandon sites that take over 3 seconds to load.

  • Improved SEO – More content can be indexed in search engines, helping you rank for a wider variety of keywords.

  • Better UX – Visitors can quickly scan through and preview your posts in archives and feeds.

  • Increased clicks – Teasers drive traffic as readers click through to read full articles.

How to Create Excerpts in WordPress

There are three main ways to generate excerpts for your WordPress posts:

1. Manual Excerpt

Manually entering a custom excerpt gives you full control over the summary displayed. Here‘s how:

  1. When editing a post, locate the "Excerpt" box below the editor.
  2. Type your desired excerpt text – aim for 150-200 words.
  3. The text you enter will display instead of an auto-generated excerpt.

2. Automated Excerpt

If no manual excerpt is provided, WordPress will automatically pull the first 55 words of your content as the excerpt.

You can modify the default excerpt length by adding this code to your theme‘s functions.php file:

function new_excerpt_length($length) {
  return 20; // Displays 20 words
add_filter(‘excerpt_length‘, ‘new_excerpt_length‘);

3. Tag

Inserting this HTML comment tag into your post content will tell WordPress to use everything before the tag as the excerpt. For example:

This content will display as the excerpt <!--more--> But this part is only shown in the full post

Excerpt Tips for Improved User Experience

Here are some pro tips from my 15+ years as a webmaster for effectively using excerpts:

  • Write compelling openings – The excerpt is your chance to hook readers. Focus on engaging opening sentences.

  • Natural cut-off points – End excerpts at natural pause points, not mid-sentence. Transition smoothly to encourage clicking.

  • Content teasing – Don‘t give away the full story. Leave them wanting more at the end of the excerpt.

  • Call-to-actions – Include CTAs like "Read more" or "Find out what happens next".

  • Consistent length – Keep excerpts around the same length for consistency across your site.

  • Image choices – Select eye-catchingimages to accompany your excerpts.

Using these best practices for your WordPress excerpts will optimize both SEO and user experience. Excerpts allow you to present abbreviated snapshots of your content across your site.

I hope this guide gives you a good overview of how to create effective post summaries with WordPress excerpts. Let me know if you have any other questions!

Written by Jason Striegel

C/C++, Java, Python, Linux developer for 18 years, A-Tech enthusiast love to share some useful tech hacks.