Our introduction author’s guide for IMPress, was your introduction to IMPress and our WordPress blog admin area. That article dealt with many of the basic functions and was a fast start to posting your articles properly. It gave you a lot of basic information with many links for more directly to WordPress. We discussed certain formatting techniques that would enable each author the ability to keep the look and feel of their posts to comply with the format we set up for the site.
Over the course of this past year we have been able to add a number of new plug-ins to the site that added new functions and features. Many plug-ins help me in administering the site, but others will offer new capabilities to you. This article will reinforce some of the features, to check some of the most common mistakes members make and to introduce some new enhancements we think you will like.
Most Common Problems Plus New Features
1. Set Featured Image
2. Preparing, Sizing and Placing Images
Many journalists and some of our photographers don’t prepare their images properly for their articles. The most common issues are the size of the image you will be uploading. The width of the active window on the article is about 650 pixels. This is why your featured image should measure 650-800 pixels at 72 dpi and you will have an opportunity to resize all images as you work in the Visual mode of your article. In the most recent WP upgrade, users can now insert the image, grab a corner and simply resize it with the push of the mouse. You can also just drag an image over from your desktop now and place it in the article. Lots of new ways to deal with media in the latest version of WP.
It is important to prepare your images so they are suitable for publication. If you do not own a photo editing program, you should invest in one. You may even find free ones on the internet…we found a number of them here. Some websites not only let you edit and then download the last image to your computer, but also allow you to create a slide show of a number of images then give you the code to insert it into your article.
A few things you will need to do to adjust the photo.
A. Proper Size For Publication…Resize it to no larger than 800-1000 pixels wide for the Featured Image and no larger than 1000 pixels for the other images. For display on a computer, save uploaded images at 72 dpi (dots per inch). For printing you would save an image at 300 dpi.
B. Levels Adjustment or Brightness and Contrast…many images may need an adjustment to make it brighter or darker. Some look flat have don’t have enough contrast, so you may want to adjust the contrast.
C. Color Adjustment…If your images color is off, too blue, too warm, you can easily adjust it to get the proper or most pleasing color balance.
D. Cropping…Look at your photo, does it have a lot of extraneous or distracting background? Make the composition look better by cropping it. Should you have taken your photo closer to your subject because they seem too small? If so Crop it and make it right before you upload.
E. Uploading Your Image…It is easy to add an image to your article. You will click on the Add Media tab, top left of your post, it will upload your image, see the screen shot above and then click Insert Into Post. Now you can adjust the size and alignment.
If you are going to center the image, you can upload an image from 800-1000 pixels wide, than you will resize them once you place them to around 500 pixels . If you intend on inserting the image on the left or right side of the post and have your text wrap around your image, then you can still upload the image and resize it properly once it is in the article.
I do this so I can watch how my text will wrap around the image and can adjust it properly. An article can look different when you view it published. So you will have to play with a bit until you get it the way it looks best. If you leave the default link in your image window, when the image is then clicked by the reader, it will open into the original size you uploaded, which in most cases will be 800-1000 pixels wide.
Remember, when an image is clicked by the reader it will open and expand to its full size. If you create a gallery of images in the article you want the larger size so it can be viewed in the full size as a slide show or in the enlarged gallery view.
It is important that your articles look like the rest of the articles in our publication. We have established a format and appearance that we want our staff to copy when they post their articles. You will see we use certain techniques in many of the articles and I would suggest you look at some of mine and use them as your guide.
Formatting Techniques & Other Tips
1. Keep your bodies of text short. In some cases you may have to break up a long paragraph in a place you normally wouldn’t do in a printed document. On a computer screen or on a mobile device, large bodies of text are difficult to read at 72 dpi. By creating white spaces often, you will find it will be easier to read for you and your readers.
2. Use images to break up your text. Insert images and align them in the center of a heavy paragraph, or align them left or right to make the text wrap around the images as well. These will help the reader and will make the article more appealing. You can also include Captions on your photos that may explain a bit more about the photo or contain other information like your copyright.
3. Sub-Headings are a good way to guide the reader to areas of your article. Not only is this important in a How To Article, but makes it easier on other articles as well. You will see I have used them on this article too.
4. On the IMPress site we have a number of different formatting options including the Box Light formatting feature we like to use on many sub-headlines. This is not available on the IPA Org site and if you are publishing the same article on both sites, you need to understand that certain corrections may have to be made from one site to the other as the themes of these two sites differ.
5. Titles should be compelling and thought out properly. The difference in getting readers to your articles can in fact be your article’s title. I had one article I published a few years ago on another website. The title was “Secret Codes Can Save You Money At Costco”. For two years this article pulled anywhere from 1,600 reads a week up to around 2,000. I thought that was pretty good until the website sent me an email that they had a new feature that would help me improve the reads. They created a tool that took my title and suggest improvements based on popular search terms. Their suggestion was to simply add the word “Price” in the title. So I changed the title to: “Secret Price Codes Can Save You Money At Costco”
The first week of the change, my reads climbed to 16,000 reads and in a couple of weeks hit the high of 25,000 reads in one week. By adding the one word “Price” the reads increased over 23,000 reads and is now averages around 16,000 each week. Do a Google Search under Save Money at Costco or a similar term and my article will either be number one out of thousands or in the top few. I have over 400 websites now pointing to this article and that keeps growing.
The story will show you how even a simple change in your title can make a huge difference. Do some research, think of what people might look for and use it in your title. Doing an article on photography and know that Nikon or Canon is a popular search term, then include the name of the camera you used. An example might be: Shooting Niagara Falls With A Nikon D7000.
6. Drop Caps are being used in many printed publications from newspapers to books. It dresses up the article and you can even give the first letter of the first word in your article a color and make it bold to really make it stand out. The only disadvantage of the Drop Cap in our articles is that this first letter will not show up on a search or in the displays on our website, but that is a small price to pay. This is how it looks when published. Drop caps are not an option on the IPA Org website.
7. Adding Slide Shows & Videos is easier now than ever before. I prefer uploading the video to YouTube, click on the Share button and then the Embed button. The size of the video you should select is the 640X360…see screen shot below
8. iFrame Code...The best way to place an iFrame code in your article is to find the spot you want to put the video, go to the TEXT view of your article (upper right corner) and find that spot in the body of text and paste the code in there.
9. Slide Shows…Many websites and photo programs will enable you to create a slide show from your group of images. Websites will usually give you the insertion code and you can simply paste it into your article as you will do for your videos or you can create a video file, usually a mov., wav, or other format, upload it to YouTube as a video and then follow the instructions above to insert it into your article. I have written more information on this topic to illustrate how to insert slide shows and videos on our main site may also prove helpful. You can see it here.
4. New Formatting Menu Adds New Features
We have just added a new plug-in that adds more features to our formatting menu. We are still looking at all the new features and would suggest you experiment with a dummy article yourself and look into some of these features. We will publish my third Author’s Guide in our series soon to explore some of these new features. For now, I would suggest you look at these:
5. New Facebook Like Button
We all know that one of the best ways to get our work seen is to promote it on social networking sites. I have a complete article on this that you should read if you want to understand how you can get readers to see your work.
Another method is the Facebook Like Buttons we have now integrated on our site. You will see it at the beginning and end of your articles and those photographers that are featured in our Photo Showcase will also see it at the top of their page too.
In order to make room for this button at the top of your article it is necessary to skip a line before you begin writing your copy. You can see in this screen shot what it should look like.
This is now how it will seem in your post.
We have added a new plug-in that offers a number of optional features for our site. One plug-in will show you detailed stats on which articles are being viewed. This gives us a better view by the day to understand how to modify our articles for more views. Maybe a title change is all that is needed or some other small change that can increase your reads. Here is a screen shot of the stat page. This will only be available for viewing by all of our registered Authors so you can check on your articles reads. These new enhancements to our site will not only make your articles better by understanding how to make is search engine optimized, but we can all learn how to create articles that actually get read.
When writing your articles try to include names of places, people who might be popular on the web and even the equipment you used to shoot the images. I have found someone searching for a Nikon D800 camera can come up with a hit of an article that simply mentions this camera a few times in their article or even in the title.
Give your articles some thought and try to design them to pull readers based on a popular search. You may even want to do a search yourself on the subject you are writing about and see which ones come up first on that search. Try to see why it did and make the needed changes in yours. It might be a simple title change. Remember, having an understanding of how the search sites work will help you not only on IMPress, but on any articles on your own sites or articles you will publish on other sites too.
Remember to promote your article on Facebook too. It will help you call attention to your article and get instant reads this way.
7. Find and Replace Function
Did you ever realize that you used a word or term a few times in an article that you now wanted to either delete or replace? Might be a misspelled name of a company or some other error. Now instead of having to search the entire document manually you can simply click our Find and Replace tab on our formatting menu.
You will now see a drop down menu appear where you can put in your search word or words and what you would like to replace it with. If you simply want to find a word or words you can click on the Find Next tab or if you want to replace one occurrence of that word, click on Replace.
8. Need Royalty Free Clip Art For Your Article? Try Clikr.com
I seldom use Click Art myself, but you never know when an image can help you in one of your articles. Well now you can simply click on this tab on our formatting menu to open up a window where you will type in a word or words to describe what you are looking for.
Now simply find the image you want to insert in your article and click on the size of the image you need. You can always resize it and align it once you have it in your post.
9. Quick Preview Without Leaving Your Article
Normally you might have to save your article in the Draft mode or Publish it and save it. Then to view it you click on the View Page link, but that can slow you down. Here is a quick way to get a fast preview of your article as it will appear to a reader. This helps you place images and graphics too.
10. New Grammar & Spelling Checker
I have installed a new plug-in called Proofreader and set it to check all sorts of common errors. Not only spelling errors but many others including simply grammatical mistakes. As you get ready to Publish or update your article a box will open and ask if you want to run the plug-in to find the errors. If you are not sure about the change, click on the Explain tab and it will give you an explanation of the change. I have already found so many errors in my articles that I may have to give up writing . By the way, don’t you love these little emotions, you can use them too, but don’t overdue it.
11. Screen Options and Article Revisions
In the upper right corner of your posts edit page you will see a tab that says Screen Options. If you click this a window will open and show you the options you have to for display in the page you are in. Based on where you are in the Admin area of our site those options will change. The important one you should know about is when you are posting a new article. Open the Screen options and be sure that the Revisions option is checked. You can also view your page as a one column or two column view there too.
The reason we want the Revisions to show is this is how you will be able to go back or compare each revision you made in your article. So you never have to worry that you made some changes and now want to return to a previous version, you can do it. Each time you update your article, it records as a revision. Even if you don’t update regularly, you will see this system also has some Auto Saves for you too. You can also compare revisions too, side by side to actually see what the changes were. This is a invaluable tool, use it, it will save you a lot of pain.
12. Placing Your Images With Accuracy
Here is an advanced tip you will love. Did you ever have a problem placing one of your images in the exact spot needed to have a nice text wrap? I am sure if you have you probably tried to resize the image a number of times to make it fit properly when all you really had to do was to place it in the right spot in the body of text. Here is a way to do it.
Go to the HTML view of your article and find the image that is causing the problem. Since you are looking for it in a bunch of code and text, I usually try to look for the Text first then the code that describes the image. I can now select that image code and paste it in another place in the body of text. Look at this screen shot that shows the placement of the image in the body of text. You can skip lines to make this easier to view, in the HTML mode when you skip lines it won’t show up in the article, only in the HTML view you are looking at.
13. Find Your Posts From The Admin Section
Some staff members have asked me how can they find all or some of their posts so they can edit them. See the screen shot below. When you are in the Posts Admin section you will see a convenient Search box on the upper right side of the page. Just put in your search term and your post or posts will now appear.
14. Mouse Over Each Button
Take some time and mouse over every button in our formatting menu. You will see a brief description of what it does. I have only listed a few of the features but there are many more that you can use to really make your articles look great. Click on a few and play with them and see how they can help your articles look better. There is one that will allow you to add a Table to your article. This is especially useful when you have to insert stats, lists, or other data including a number of images and their descriptions. There is a button to add a page break too. So many useful features that I want you to explore them all and determine which ones will work best for you. Have fun, I did doing this article. 🙂