Understand the Excerpt

Excerpts are optional hand-crafted summaries of your content that can be used in your theme.

The WordPress Excerpt is an optional summary or description of a post; in short, a post summary. It is a field under the post edit box. However, many users do not know the field as it is hidden since version 3.1. In this article, we discuss the importance of the Excerpt.

What is the Excerpt?

Before we discuss the importance of the Excerpt, we need to clarify the confusion between Excerpt, automatic excerpt, and teaser. Excerpt is an optional summary about the post. When the Excerpt is not available, WordPress will generate the automatic excerpt which is the first 55 characters of the post. When a theme uses the_content() function to display the post. WordPress will look for the More tag and create a teaser from the content that precedes the More tag.

In most cases, the automatic excerpt and teaser will not be the summary of the post. Therefore, a manual Excerpt may be necessary. Please note that you need to turn on the Excerpt option in Screen Options (top-right corner).

Why the Excerpt?

The Excerpt is used in the RSS feed of the post. Depending on the theme, it can be displayed in places where quick summaries are preferable to full content such as search results and archive pages. Most importantly, Excerpt is used by search engines (e.g. Google Alerts). In fact, the best way to improve your site’s ranking is to write a handcrafted manual Excerpt. Excerpt is meant to be short as search engines truncate your summary after 160 characters.

Usage in the Theme

Our themes will display the manual excerpt and give a different style (example above). In fact, this is very easy to implement. The has_excerpt() function allows a theme to check if manual excerpt exists. If you do not want to show the manual excerpt in single post view, you can hide it using the following custom CSS.

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