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How To Efficiently Manage Post Series in WordPress

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How To Efficiently Manage Post Series in WordPress

Long posts can be dull and uninteresting, but if you cover topics that need lengthy posts then you must have considered breaking those posts into series. The problem with post series is that it is not easy to organize and arrange them manually. One obvious way to do this is to add a little text before each post telling the users that this post is part of a series and then list rest of the posts in the series at the bottom of each post. The hectic part is that you will have to update all posts manually as you publish a new post in the series.

WordPress introduced custom taxonomies to deal with this and other similar situations. You can create a simple taxonomy, name it series, and create a series whenever you want. However to do that you will have to write manual code, create a template for the taxonomy, and this is probably just a lot of extra work for people who just want to share their content without going through the code. In this article, we will show you how to efficiently manage post series in WordPress without ever having to mess with code. We will utilize a plugin called Organize Series which solves the problem of managing series posts. Let’s take a look at what it has to offer.

Features

  • Uses built in WordPress custom taxonomies feature to create and manage series.
  • Users can create a series of posts or pages.
  • Each post in a series displays the link to the series page and other posts in the series are displayed in a nifty meta box.
  • Add images or icons to your series posts, this will make them standout from regular posts.
  • This plugin supports permalinks, e.g.: http://www.example.com/series/name-of-series-as-slug
  • Works out of the box for beginners, so no coding or messing around with templates required.
  • Advanced users can use template tags, modify css, and tweak core.

Video Tutorial

If you don’t like the video or need more instructions, then continue reading.

Installation and Set up

Organize Series works out of the box so for a non-developer blogger all you have to do is to download, install and activate the plugin. The plugin settings page has options which you can look at and change if you want. The plugin options page itself is well documented and explanation is provided along with each option.

Using Organize Series Plugin

The plugin adds a meta box in your Post Edit screen. If you are writing a normal post which is not part of a series then you can completely ignore this box. But if you are writing a post that is part of a series then using this box you can create a series, or choose an existing one. You can also give your post a number and if you don’t then it automatically appends to rest of the post. Like for example if you have written three posts in a series then a new one in the series without a number automatically becomes the fourth post.

Since Organize Series uses custom taxonomies, there is a “Manage Series” menu item under posts. This is similar to how you manage categories in WordPress except that it is called Series and that you can associate an image or icon to a Series by editing it in Manage Series.

Customization and Add-ons for Organize Series Plugin

Organize Series plugin is well documented and easy to customize even for a beginner with basic WordPress skills. The first thing that most users would like to modify is probably the CSS. There is an option on plugin settings page to upload your own stylesheet.

By default the series are named “Series” but you can change it to anything you like. For example if you want to call your series, episodes or something else, then there is an option to do that on plugin settings page.

A free add-on Organize Series Publisher is also available as a separate plugin. This add-on allows users to hold on posts in a series and publish the whole series at once. More add-on plugins and customization instructions are available on the Organize Series’ official website.

Organize Series is a fine example of using the built-in custom taxonomies feature of WordPress to organize content for easy publishing and navigation. However, there might be some users who would still like to manage their series manually or use some other plugin/tool. Tell us how you like to manage your post series in the comments below.


Editorial Staff at WPBeginner is a team of WordPress lovers led by Syed Balkhi. Page maintained by Syed Balkhi.

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  • Anonymous

    This plug-in hasn’t been updated in almost a year, it’s also not coded for PHP 5.4, so if you’re trying to do some things like filtering posts in the back end, you get the error “Warning: Illegal string offset ‘context’ in /orgSeries-taxonomy.php on line 381″.

  • DJ

    Great post. I’m downloading this plugin right now. It should come in handy for my blog because I love series posts.

  • Darren

    Thanks for the review of Organize Series! Really appreciate it and great site :)

    • http://www.wpbeginner.com Editorial Staff

      Hey Darren, thank you for creating such a good plugin.

  • Mike Schinkel

    Just downloaded and checked out this plugin. It’s pretty well done and I can definitely see how it will be useful.

    One thing I was sad to see was that it adds a wp_orgSeriesIcons table to the database even though the developer could have easily used the taxonomy system to associate between the series taxonomy term and the post attachment used for the icon. Unnecessary tables are usually deal killers for me because of the future maintenance issues they can cause for someone like me who often deals with WordPress at the database level.

    Usually when a plugin violates what I consider to be a best practice like this (i.e. don’t add tables unless absolutely required) it means I forgo the plugin and build my own of fork there. I would be happy to contribute the fixed code back, but it’s really hard to do that on WordPress.org vs. forking and sending pull requests on GitHiub. Shame.

    • Darren

      Hey Mike, yeah I agree with you, I’m not a fan of adding custom tables either unless REALLY necessary. I first started organize series way back when images weren’t attached as post-attachments, hence the extra table. It’s kind of been a niggling thing for me but I just haven’t had the time to fix it (because I can’t just fix it, I also have to provide a way for existing users to move their images over to the post-attachments).

      About your idea about contributing back. I actually have plans to put Organize Series up on github sometime in the near future (definitely before Christmas). You aren’t the only one who has wanted to contribute!

      • Mike Schinkel

        Hi Darren,

        Thanks for your comments; I appreciate your follow up.

        I can definitely understand/relate to the fact that your initial development was prior to the newer functionality being available in WordPress; really glad to hear that in fact. I see so many people using unnecessary custom tables in WordPress in newer plugins that I’m getting kind of jaded. But there is always the reality of legacy to recognize.

        Also glad to hear you are going to move to GitHub. If I have time I’d love to make the changes for you to get rid of the extra table although I don’t know if I’d have the time to test the conversion functionality to make sure it works perfect as that could be rather time consuming, especially for someone who doesn’t have any data sets to work with.

        But if you want the dev help let me know when you are on GitHub. You can reach me via http://about.me/mikeschinkel.

        -Mike

        • Darren

          Thanks Mike! Organize Series (and Organize Series Publisher) are now on github (for anyone who is interested…)

  • Brad Dalton

    I use Justin Tadlocks Series plugin.

    Very simple.

    I did test the plugin you have reviewed here but was disappointed.

    I’ll try it again if you think its the best.

    This is what happened when i installed it locally

    Fatal error: Cannot redeclare in_series() (previously declared in C:\Users\brad\Desktop\WordPress\iwpserver\htdocs\wordpress\wp-content\plugins\series\template-tags.php:112) in C:\Users\brad\Desktop\WordPress\iwpserver\htdocs\wordpress\wp-content\plugins\organize-series\orgSeries-template-tags.php on line 603

    • http://www.wpbeginner.com Editorial Staff

      Brad, Justin’s plugin hasn’t been updated in a while, so we didn’t bother trying it out. The error that you got is not something that most folks will see. Mainly because you are not supposed to use the two plugin together. You have two plugins doing similar things. Naming issues can happen. Although it can be avoided if both plugins just use their own classes. But anyways, I would recommend you trying this on a fresh install and giving it a fair chance :)

  • Jason Pelker

    Warning: there is an addon to this plugin for custom post types that has a few bugs in it. Specially, this addon a) doesn’t display correctly: http://organizeseries.com/2012/organize-series-cpt-support-changelog/ and more surprisingly, b) the entire system doesn’t work when network activated in Multisite.

    There are also smaller bugs, as well, including a false update nag and the < symbol accidentally inserted into the page template.

    I've found the developer to not be very helpful, either, even though these addons are commercial ($5-$20). Despite being notified of these multisite bugs over a month ago, he has yet to correct the code or issue any kind of solution.

    Sadly, I'd recommend staying away from this plugin for the time being.

    • Darren

      Jason, sorry you didn’t find me to be very helpful when I tried to respond to your comments as soon as I could even though I “thought” I made it clear on my site that I price the addons relatively low so users who don’t need support can get them. For more in depth support I do provide a Basic Support package that provides access to private support forums and more troubleshooting.

      Regarding not getting anything out the door for multisite (months ago? check the dates on the comments in the post you linked) – WordPress multisite is a complicated system and its not just a couple lines that I’d have to modify in my plugin (and all the addons) to work well with multi-site. I just haven’t had the time to invest in that kind of development at the moment. Sorry to disappoint, but I don’t recall making any promises that it would work on multi-site…

      • Jason Pelker

        Since most of these bugs seem to be associated with Multisite (the exception being the “<" symbol added to the page titles), you may want to clearly state on your site that the paid addons do not work correctly with Multisite and that you have no plans on adding this functionality.