The text editing tools on your word processor are the same as your website’s dashboard. Your website’s non-verbal editing tools can be just as satisfying and creative.
You have a cursor you can move with your mouse or mouse pad, or the arrow keys on your keyboard. Two sliders, on the right edge of the copy block and right edge of the page, move your copy, or the page, up and down without changing it. Buttons above the copy make or unmake highlighted words bold or italic, or start bulleted or numbered lists. Copy, move, paste, and delete blocks of text the same as on your word processor.
Across the top of the copy block are two rows of squares with different symbols inside. These are the website’s non-verbal editing tools. Run your cursor over each one and see what it does. If it’s not self-explanatory, don’t use it. Learn what it is, and how to use it, later, by searching for the function on Google, including the words “on WordPress” in your search.
Non-Verbal Editing Tools: Internet Links
One of the most important non-verbal editing tools on the top row looks like a dumbbell. It says LINK when the cursor hovers over it. This tool will embed links to other web pages in your blog. On a website, an embedded link is a better way to cite sources, or refer the reader for additional information, than a list of references at the end, like a typewritten research paper or report.
To embed a link, follow these steps in order, so you don’t undo other editing:
- SAVE YOUR WORK AS A DRAFT before you leave the dashboard. If you don’t, you’ll lose whatever you’ve done since the last time you saved.
- If you know the URL of the website or Internet page you want to send the reader to, highlight the name or phrase in your copy.
- Click on the dumbbell.
- A box will appear with two blank lines. On the top line, type the URL,and the highlighted phrase on the bottom.
- Under those two lines, check the box that says “Open on a separate page.” Make sure an X appears. This allows the reader to follow your link without leaving your web page.
- In the lower right corner of the link box, click Save Link. The box will disappear, and you’ll be back in your copy.The phrase you highlighted will appear in color, and underlined.
- Hit Save as Draft right away. On the website, the reader can click on it and go directly to the URL you specified.
- If you don’t know the URL, hit Save Draft and do a Google Search for one. Copy the URL, go back to your draft, underline a word or phrase, hit the dumbbell, paste the URL, and type the phrase into the link box on the dashboard.
- Embed videos from You Tube the same way. Find the one you want, copy the URL,and use the dumbbell tool.
My Favorite Non-Verbal Editing Tools: Photos and Graphics
You can insert your own photos and graphics from your hard drive (preferred), or you can download them from Google Images Advanced Search. Once you’ve downloaded a Google image to your hard drive, the procedure for inserting it into your blog is the same as a photo of your own.
Above the boxes with the editing tools is a little box with two squares. Click on it to start the Add Photo procedure. Click the Upload photo button in the box that appears. Your photos will appear in the Photos folder on the right; your Google photos in the Downloads folder. Click on the image you want, then click Open in the lower right of the screen.
You will automatically return to the Upload Photo box. The photo takes a second or two to upload. When it is uploaded, use the slider on the right edge of the Upload box (not the whole screen) to slide down until you see the picture.
Below the picture, click on Edit. You will get a larger, fuller picture. Then, below the picture, click on Save.
Slide down a little further until you see rectangles. The top one already has the name of the picture. The one below says Alternate Text, and the lower box says Caption. Type two identical captions in Alt Text and Caption.
Scroll down some more, and click on Left, Center, or Right to place the picture in the text. I usually alternate left and right rather than stacking pictures all on one side. The picture will usually tell you which side to put it on. It should face into the copy, or straight ahead, not off the page.
I rarely center a picture because it interrupts the text. A centered picture must dramatically show the story your blog is telling. A centered, dramatic picture is very powerful. Don’t dilute that power by overusing it.
Below the Left-Center-Right choices are a list of boxes to choose the size of the image. Art should be big and bold, without overwhelming the blog. Medium is always a good choice. Bigger is better unless it’s too big. I only use Thumbnail if I have to fit it a photo in a tight space. You can see a face fine in a thumbnail, but not much more.
Scroll farther down and click Insert Post. You’ll see the blog with the image. If you don’t like how it looks, put your cursor on the image, and click on the circle with a red diagonal. Start over and keep trying till to get something y0u like.
Non-Verbal Editing Tools #2A: Google Images
To download Google Images from the Internet, type Google Images Advanced Search into the Search bar of your Internet browser. A window comes up. The only line you need is the top one. Type in a name or topic, scroll down, and click the Search button. See what comes up.
Choose an image in a .jpg or .jpeg format. Left click on it to highlight it, then right click. On the drop-down menu that appears, left click Save Image As…. In the rectangle along the bottom, type a name for the picture, and hit Save in the lower right of the box.
The photo will show up in your Downloads folder or your Photos folder.
Avoiding Copyright Issues
Copyright infringement is a concern with Google Images, but Google takes a lot of the uncertainty out for you. If an image has restricted use, they usually give it to you in a format you can’t use on WordPress.
Most shots on Google fall under the “fair use” doctrine in the copyright law, which means you can use them. The Fair Use doctrine allows writers and editors to use little bits from copyrighted sources for public information. To be safe, give credit to the photographer if you can. With a video, book, or CD cover, or a still photo from a movie, credit the production company, publisher, or studio that produced it. You can find the producer or publisher by Google Searching the title.
Some super-vain superstars copyright their faces. If a mug shot of a star is protected, Google won’t let you download it in a usable format. These people are usually so famous that, if one mug is restricted, there will be plenty more that are not. Just find one.
Don’t use anything that somebody drew, including charts and graphs, unless they come from a government website.
A lot of people are needlessly fearful of taking images off the Internet because they don’t understand Fair Use. Still, when it doubt, use a substitute image that has no doubt.
Tool #3: Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is a technical editing tool. There are many things involved. Written instructions for SEO would double the length of this document. But do learn the basic principles from Corinna West’s blog on search engine optimization.
The key to SEO is choosing a keyword or phrase for the blog that people are likely to search for on Google. Then, use the keyword in the headline, one of the photo captions and sub-heads, the long and short summaries, and in the copy itself, often.
The SEO checklist at the bottom of the page gives you a score, including your “keyword density.” 1.0 is optimal density, .75 is good. Higher scores and keyword densities are more likely to attract people from search engines.
The non-verbal editing tools on your website’s dashboard sound complicated when written out like this. But when you use them, you’ll see that it’s mostly following on-screen prompts, and remembering to save your draft often. It quickly becomes second nature, and as creative and rewarding as you decide to make it.
What non-verbal editing tools in your own website’s content most appeal to you?
Part 1 looks at website language. Part 2 explores the dashboard (control panel).