What Length Should A Post Excerpt Be?

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Cut an excerpt length. It is one thing to choose excerpts over full posts on the homepage. You can even choose how you want to generate these excerpts easily enough. Yet with that done, you still have another decision to make every time you write a post; what length should a post excerpt be?

Getting the Job Done

In short, a post excerpt should be as long as it needs to be to get the job done. The job of an excerpt is to give your readers a teaser, a sample of what is to come. It is important to realize that your excerpt is not your article. If you wanted the reader to hear all that you have to say on the home page, you would be using full posts, not excerpts.

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The 2 Methods of Showing Excerpts

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Cut Out People
Photo by Linek
There are many reasons to choose to publish either full posts or excerpts on the homepage. Full posts are very simple to implement. You simply write, then publish. However, if you have chosen only partial posts, then Wordpress users have two different methods which will achieve the same effect.

Method 1: The More Tag

This method is usually the easiest of the two. When you have written your post, select where you would like to make the cut-off between the partial post for the homepage, and the rest of the page, then click the More button (More).

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Full Posts vs. Partial Posts, on the Homepage

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Posts in Pieces
Mirando Así Arriba by Corazón Girl
One of the most immediately noticeable aspects of a blog is whether or not it publishes complete posts on its homepage, or partial posts. Are you going to have to load another page to read the first article in its entirety? Or is it already laid out in front of you?

Many blogs publish partials, and many publish excerpts. Which method is best?

In Favour of Full Posts

Some of the advantages of displaying the complete posts are:

  • There are no interruptions. If someone has read the first few paragraphs of your post, then they are involved with it. Giving a partial post breaks the reader’s flow. This can be particularly damaging if the post is dealing with a rather complex idea, where breaking the train of thought may end up with the reader being lost.
  • Short posts look good in full. If a post is 5 paragraphs long, and you usually show an excerpt that is 3 paragraphs long, is it really worth loading the second page for the sake of 2 paragraphs?

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