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Perennial Favorite: Full Posts or Excerpts?

Some blogs tease the reader with excerpts from each post. Others display entire posts from the get-go. Which option is the right one for you?

By Team Naked Pictures of Bea Arthur. (Own work.) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)],

On the Blogging U. Commons, lots of bloggers have been asking about post excerpts and splitting post content. If you’re trying to decide what’s best for your, this discussion from last year might help…

Some blogs tease the reader with excerpts from each post. Others display entire posts from the get-go. Which option is the right one for you?

Go with full text

If your posts tend to be brief, or are image-heavy, full text might be best. It’s a good idea to give visitors to your blog a satisfying bite of your content, not just a crumb. Most of us don’t enjoy clicking on a post only to find out we’ve already seen all there was to see, so presenting your post in its entirety will save your visitors a few extra clicks. This way, you encourage them to spend their time at your blog doing what matters: reading your content.

Another point to consider: if you’re a recent or infrequent blogger, going full text will give your blog a heftier feel as you add more and more content.

Go with excerpts

if you write long posts, or if you publish very frequently, maximize your space with excerpting. Scrolling down a blog full of long posts can become a pain if you include the full text of each one. It might also reduce the overall number of posts your reader sees at any given visit to your blog.

There are a couple of ways to control how much of a post your readers see when they enter your blog. Some themes allow you to define an excerpt for each post as you write it, and the excerpt is then featured on your homepage once your post is published. Anyone who wants to continue reading can click the post title to go to the full post.

Alternatively, you can easily add a More Tag to your posts, cutting off the text your reader sees. Even better: you yourself choose the point at which the excerpt ends. Clicking ‘More’ will take your reader to the rest of the post.

  • Good to know: you can limit the visible amount of your post not only on your homepage, but also on your followers’ feeds. In your Dashboard, click Settings >> Reading, and choose whether the feed shows your entire post or a summary.

To use or not to use… Infinite Scroll?

With the format of your homepage posts – Full Text or Excerpt – settled, here’s one more thing to think about: should your homepage last…forever? (Or at least until your very last post?)

  • Go with infinity: some types of content — photos, videos, quotes, short texts — can be consumed quickly, and in great quantities. Why not give your readers more of what they like, more quickly? To activate Infinite Scroll, go to your Dashboard, and click Settings >> Reading. All you need to do is check the Infinite Scroll box, and you’re set.
  • Stick with pages: other types of posts (for examples, longer essays) can be savored more easily with some pacing. Making your readers click on the next page allows them to take a breath — and prepares them for more great posts.

Note: sometimes, you have to forego Infinite Scroll, namely, when you’ve selected footer widgets, which, alas, can’t be displayed when there is no footer.

These easy either/or tweaks can really shape the way your visitors navigate through your content. Which option do you use? Why?

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    1. Hi Aimingtobegreen,

      I am not from Europe but was glad to read your post. Good blog and your theme is perfect for what you are doing.
      I have been looking into advantages and disadvantages myself. I sometimes have large posts and other times I dont. So I think I may have to play a bit with every post. My mobile theme supports excerpt-ion but not my actual theme. May have to go with more tag. Don’t know yet but will give something new a try.:)

  1. When posting a gallery plus one large image, using the image format will force the reader to only display the large image. I prefer this to having the entire gallery in the reader because it provides a reason to visit the original post.

  2. I hate reading split posts, because I read them on my mobile in wordpress reader. In case, someone put a split in the posts, I have to reload the complete page into wordpress reader. That lasts very long (not mentioned the used up mobile volume), so I often skipped the post because of that!

    1. that’s good to know. Do you have no trouble reading very long posts on your mobile?I’m asking because I’m the verbose kind of blogger and I thought I’d do my readers a favour by splitting. I personally never read on my mobile because the size annoys me.

      1. I’m using the wordpress.app for this. Using the mobile browser is hard. The layout and the font size (even depending on the theme of the single blog, you’re currently reading) is way too small. But, using the wordpress.app is quite ok (beside, I’m forced by a more-link to load the complete posts and switch automatically to the browser-layout – although I’m still in wordpress.app).
        Another misbehavior is, I’m unable to comment or ‘like’ a post, until I switch back to the wordpress.app ‘preview’, because my credentials are not passed-through.

  3. Thanks for addressing this. Just yesterday one of my subscribers commented on how she wished she could get my entire post in the body of her email. I have only recently switched my settings to only show a portion of the post, necessitating the reader to go to my site to read it entirely.
    One advantage I see of doing this is it gets readers to my site, which has lots more info about my projects, along with links and widgets, that they don’t get if they never leave their email Inbox.

    I’m also wondering about site traffic. I’m thinking that if readers don’t need to leave their email to read a post, that a blogger’s website would have less traffic, lower stats, and I believe this affects search engine ranking, in general. Am I correct?

    As a reader, I actually appreciate not having to make an extra click to read an entire blog post, but I do realize I’m missing the complete “experience” of the blogger’s website when I stay in my Inbox (or in the Reader).

    Thoughts on this from anyone are appreciated!

    Aloha!

    1. Aloha!

      The funny thing is as readers we love having full access to a post, but as writers we turn on the excerpts portion on our posts in hopes that our reader will come to our site and increase our site traffic. But in reality, like you said, readers like that they don’t have to make that ‘extra click’. A lot of times in my ‘Reader’ newsfeed especially I have so many posts I want to read that I don’t want to lose my place by getting redirected to a different page.
      If I click on a post and the excerpt doesn’t capture my attention, I close it out and don’t continue onto their site. Unless of course I’ve built a good rapport with that blogger, then I will always continue to their site. It’s the harsh truth, but I feel like many of us are this way, especially if we’re limited on time. All in all I think we have to think with the mind of the reader when it comes to making the switch. Have you considered turning on the option to make your posts/links open up as a separate window for your readers for their convenience so they can still have the Reader tab open while they visit your site?

      Best,
      Rakhi
      littleblissbook.com

      1. I like your suggestion about opening the posts in a new window but I couldn’t find the option. Care to share? I’ve already done that with the links.

      2. So I just realized if you click on the XX more words in the reader of the post it will open up a separate window, whereas if you click on the post title or picture in the reader it will open up the excerpt..

      3. It’s funny, I kept hearing people complain about the excerpt view in the reader and I didn’t get it until I realised I always clicked on the xx more words and thus by-passed that view.

    2. I am on the same thought process as you are. Yes technically it decreases traffic, but I also wonder if changing to excerpts might still affect traffic as not as many readers will want to click through to look at the whole post. It is a hard decision and I think in the end it comes down to personal preferences.

  4. Since one of my blogs is a fanfiction blog I go with excerpts. I use the more tag to do this. The other blog will be a combination probably since poetry is shorter than short stories and flash fiction. Great post!

  5. This is an interesting topic… and I feel it really comes down to personal preference.
    Often, if I click a link from a page on a story that seemed interesting enough for me to click the initial link, and I arrive to find an excerpt with a “read more” – quite often I’ll think “not that interested” and close the page.
    I also almost NEVER read posts that have the “page 1 2 3 4″ breakdowns into bite sized chunks. If they dont have the option to “read full post” then I close right away.
    So on my own site I’ve mirrored my own personal preferences for reading a post and used infinite scroll and full posts.
    Sometimes I do wish I could show excerpts in categories, or in archives, but have not quite worked out how… :)
    !! AJ

    1. Hi AJ..

      If you have infinitive scroll and many posts, you are missing on the amount of clicks on your blog. Second thing is people will not get to one of your best post, if its two-three posts below.. Having a side bar and menu can be a great advantage.. Use your categories and archives well. Give them a heading..
      I just visited your blog and only with one click saw 5 of your posts, where you could have 5 clicks (more traffic).. If you have very long posts is good to have excerts where you are just about to jump on the most interesting part.. Long posts are good too, but if I were you will get rid of infinite blogging and use categories, archives and menu for others to navigate..Anyways love your travel pictures of the canyon.. Enjoy travelling :)
      Happy blogging :)

    2. I find this kind of sad to be honest. You’ll miss out on some great stuff if you are too bothered by read more or excerpts period. I do it because honestly I don’t think people will come to my site if I over stretch the posts. I personally hate sites with long posts that I have to continuously scroll to get to where I want. Especially if they do not have other options to get to that post and many blogs I’ve come across sometimes do not. Which is strange since there is the menu option, category or tags option.

  6. I have thought about excerpts but prefer the “MORE” tag after a brief intro. I think it looks better and acts as a teaser encouraging the reader to click on

    1. Yes you are right it certainly does.. Specially if your blog has lot of excitement in it.. For more tags, the top bit has to be really good so one wnats to click on it :)

  7. Right now I am trying to find out exactly that – experimenting with 2 of my blogs, so this discussion and the post itself are of major interest and importance to me. Thank you, guys. :)

  8. I can think of another advantage of excerpts based on blogs I’ve read- spoilers. If your post contains spoilers for a film, book, game etc, putting more with a warning that there is spoilers is a good idea even if the rest of your posts are full posts

  9. I’ve gone back and forth with excerpts and full posts, and after reading this I realized full posts work best for me since I’m so picture heavy and less writing heavy. Just changed my format back to full posts. Thanks Ben.

    Best,
    Rakhi

    1. Same for me, full works best..Sometimes I have high pixel photos. which take a while to load on phone..So read more will lead them to re open and waste data..

      Regards
      EAT ALL FRESH :)

  10. Just a comment on the infinite scroll feature: I formerly used this option because it looked good to me, but I disabled it when I found that it slows down the loading of the page when you have too many posts already loaded. Occasionally the page freezes for a while when you try to scroll too fast. The infinite scroll hence might not be ideal when you have lots of large-size images in each post, especially when you’re using a grid layout theme at the same time.

  11. I only blog 1-2 times..per month. Yea, lazy bum cyclist me. As for the amount of excerpting, I found that it was dependent on what a theme already offered. So Sight theme already auto-excerpts for me with at least a photo. I like that.

    As for Infinite Scroll, I hate the feature and don’t want to frustrate readers. So I turned it off.

    I also consider auto feature, on “Related Posts” with a thumbnail photo, a form of auto-excerpting too! Nice.

  12. I use the more tag for long pages but not for short ones. I don’t paginate individual posts but I don’t have more than 5 or so summaries visible when you arrive in the blog. Maybe I should, I might rethink that. This reflects my own reading preferences. If I’m looking at a new blog and the first post doesn’t interest me much I usually will scroll down to see what else has been written, and is tedious scrolling through a lot of text, I’d rather see summaries, especially if people don’t organise their content at all, e.g with categories.

  13. Something for us to keep in mind :) Cheers for the advice! I’ve been getting the hang of when to silence my on-going rants (so far its a success). I’m also noticing the information I’m researching in school, actually coincides with my blogs objective, However I wouldn’t put my entire essay on here.

    -James

  14. I don’t mind the full post if it’s short, but for photo-heavy and long posts excerpts are the way to go. I can’t stand sites with infinite scroll.

    And on a slight side note, I can’t stand when blogs only allow me to view an excerpt in my feed reader.

  15. I use the full text option for my posts because my blog is relatively new, so it keeps my homepage full. I also have many short posts sprinkled with a few longer ones. When reading a blog, I prefer the infinite scroll because it’s a huge pain to have to stop and find the next page button, then wait for things to load when I’m on a roll going through the posts. I often won’t even bother to click through to the next page.

  16. I dislike sites that have the infinite scroll. I find it frustrating and oddly unsatisfying to not reach the end of the page, especially for sites with a lot of content. I don’t want to be scrolling forever!

    On my Frugality Wise blog, I leave my most recent post as full text, and all older posts I use the More Tag.

  17. I have come to see that blogging successfully is not a problem greater than I imagine but greater than I can imagine. Like ageing, my blog grows in a way I can barely see. Unlike ageing, I am slowly ironing out the wrinkles. Your post helps, Ben, thank you.

  18. I hate the, ‘read full text’ button when I’m reading blogs. I get too many windows open and then I sometimes close it and have to get back to where I was. I personally don’t like the preview pane, we should just go straight to the site to read.

  19. Ben, I’m not an infinite scroll person. I shop the same way-get in get what I came for and get out. To those who use it, live and be well. “It takes different strokes to move the world.”-Alan Thicke (Yes, THAT Alan Thicke-he wrote the theme to that show).

  20. this was super helpful = and I was wondering about why some blogs allow the full post in the “blogs I follow reader” while others don’t (not wondering enough to ask about it – but curious) – and so this is good to know…
    also, the infinite scroll tidbits helpful too – thanks…..

  21. Great post, thanks for the clarification. I tend to lean toward summaries only because I tend to have a few short paragraphs and that can cause pages to load slower and then followers can get a quick snipit and read only the posts that interest them