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Excerpts are a summary of your post content and are used to shorten your posts so that only the introduction or a summary of your post is displayed rather than the full post.  The except is only visible on the main blog page where all the posts are shown and may be followed by a link to the full post depending on your theme.

Here’s an example of excerpts on the homepage of a blog using the theme Gridz.

Excerpt on homepage

When you click on the post title, or the Read More link, you are taken to the full post.

About a third of our themes display excerpts of ~300 characters by default on the site’s main blog page and the excerpt is created from the text at the beginning of your post if you haven’t added a custom excerpt.  This is replaced with your custom excerpt if you added one using the Excerpt module.

The Advanced Settings plugin can be used to force a theme to display Excerpt on the site’s main blog page if your theme doesn’t display excerpts by default.

Custom Excerpt

A custom excerpt is added using the Excerpt module.  This enables you to hand crafted your own more compelling description to encourage readers to read your full post compared to the excerpt created by your theme.

Here’s an example of a post with the default excerpt:

Default Excerpt

And the same post with a custom excerpt:

Default excerpt

The Excerpt module is hidden by default.

You enable the excerpt module as follows:

1.  Click on Screen Options in the upper right corner of your dashboard when you have a post open in edit mode.

Click on Screen options

2.  Select the checkbox next Excerpt.

Select Excerpt

Once you’ve done this the Excerpt module is displayed under your post editor and you add your text in this field.  When ready, publish your post.

Add custom excerpt

Force Excerpt

The Advanced Settings plugin can be used to force a theme to display Excerpt on the site’s main blog page if your theme doesn’t automatically display excerpts.  This option works for most themes.

You force excerpt as follows:

1. Activate the Advanced Settings plugin in Plugins > All.

2.  Go to Settings > Advanced Settings.

Advanced Settings

3.  Scroll down to Force Content/Excerpt.

4.  Select Excerpt for the pages you want an excerpt displayed on.

Select Excerpt

5. Click Save Changes.