Are you wondering whether you should use an excerpt instead of full posts in your archive pages?
A summary helps provide a quick glimpse to your visitors about your content. Users can read through the short excerpt and decide if they’d like to view the entire blog. However, using the full post may get more eyes on the content because it doesn’t require extra action on the user’s part. But which is better?
In this article, we will compare full post vs summary (excerpt) in your WordPress archive pages.
What is an Excerpt and How to Add It in WordPress?
An excerpt is a short summary of an article that you can display on the archive pages in WordPress. The excerpt also has a link that users can click to read the whole article.
If you have limited space on your WordPress site, then excerpts are great for showing descriptions of your content.
By default, WordPress will use the starting 55 words of a blog post and show it as an excerpt. However, you can also manually add an excerpt.
Adding Excerpts in WordPress Posts
First, you’ll need to add a new post or edit an existing one. Once you’re in the WordPress content editor, you can click the ‘gear’ icon at the top right corner to open the settings panel.
Next, scroll down to the ‘Excerpt’ section and add your text in the ‘Write an excerpt (optional)’ field.
When you’re done, simply publish or update your blog post.
Adding Excerpts in WordPress Pages
If you need to add a summary to a WordPress page, then you’ll notice that there’s no option to add an excerpt. However, you can simply add the following code to your website:
add_post_type_support( 'page', 'excerpt' );
To add the code, you’ll need to install and activate the WPCode plugin. For more details please see our guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.
Upon activation, head to Code Snippets » Add Snippet from your WordPress dashboard, and then select the ‘Add Your Custom Code (New Snippet)’ option.
Next, you can enter a name for your code snippet.
After that, simply paste the snippet in the ‘Code Preview’ area and select the ‘PHP Snippet’ from the Code Type dropdown menu.
From here, you can scroll down to the ‘Insertion’ section and select where you’d like to add the snippet on your site.
Next, click on the ‘Location’ dropdown menu and choose the ‘Run Everywhere’ option under ‘PHP Snippets Only.’
After entering the code, you can click the toggle at the top to activate the snippet and then click the ‘Save Snippet’ button.
This will add an ‘Excerpt’ meta box in the settings panel in your WordPress editor, where you can easily provide a short summary for your page.
Please see our tutorial on how to add excerpts to your pages in WordPress for more information.
That said, let’s see the advantages of using a summary vs a full post in archive pages.
Benefits of Using Summary vs Full Post in Archives
When optimizing your site for a better user experience, choosing between excerpts and full posts in archive pages can play a huge role. You want users to easily browse the website, find what they are looking for, and improve search engine ranking.
With summaries, you can provide an improved user experience. It helps users find the content they want to read. Plus, it keeps your page organized and allows you to display multiple posts on a page. This would be very difficult if you show full posts in archives.
That said, here’s a closer look at why we recommend using summary (excerpts) vs full posts on your WordPress site’s archive pages.
1. Improves Page Load Time
Did you know Google now uses your site speed as a ranking factor? The search engine will rank fast-loading websites higher than the ones that take a lot of time to load fully.
By using excerpts on your archive pages, you significantly improve the page load time.
Imagine an archive page that shows 10 posts per page. If each of those 10 pages is 500+ words long with 5 images each, then your user has a lot to scroll through. The page will also load slower than normal.
By using excerpts, you can significantly improve the user experience.
Here’s a preview of how a short summary appears on WPBeginner when you view the archive pages.
Users can load and browse through our category, tags, date, and other archive pages quickly and easily. As for search engines, you will see a boost in rankings for archive pages and improvement in WordPress SEO with faster page load times.
2. Prevents Duplicate Content
By showing excerpts on your archive pages, you can prevent being flagged for duplicate content in search engines.
For example, WordPress by default has category, tags, date, and author archives. Publishing full posts in archives will make each article appear at full length on several different pages on your site.
Even though search engines are quite smart in finding canonical URLs for each post, they can still flag the site for duplicate content which will affect your search engine rankings.
3. Increases Pageviews and Reduces Bounce rate
Using summaries or excerpts can reduce the bounce rate and increase pageviews. Users can click through to the full post in order to read the entire article.
If you just have full posts displayed in the archive pages, then people will not see any other elements that are on the blog page itself, such as a popular posts widget inside the post or page content.
By displaying the full post, users might just leave your site after looking at a single page instead of clicking around.
A summary makes your archive page more engaging and allows your readers to see find more content easily.
Disadvantages of Using Summary vs Full Post in Archives
1. Short Excerpts Provide Poor User Experience
If you don’t set an excerpt for blog posts, then WordPress will automatically create a summary using the first 55 words in the article. This is too short, and sometimes your sentences will be cut in half, resulting in a poor user experience.
You can always change the excerpt length in a WordPress theme, but that doesn’t fix the problem entirely.
One solution is to write a custom excerpt in the content editor before publication. Another solution is to write short, catchy introductions that will most likely make the user interested and can easily work as excerpts.
2. Hidden Content
Some users prefer to read everything on one page rather than having to go to a different page to read the entire article. This is useful if you have short blog posts that don’t contain many images.
These users are likely to stay on your site longer, even if they don’t click on any other pages, which is also a metric that Google uses to determine search engine rankings.
Should You Use Full Post or Summary in Archive Pages?
If your articles are short and do not contain a lot of images, then you can get away with displaying full posts on your archive pages.
However, in most cases, we always recommend using a summary or excerpts for your archive pages. Most WordPress themes come with a built-in option that allows you to choose between full posts vs excerpts from the settings.
Excerpts provide a better user experience and make your site look clean and organized. You can boost user engagement, increase pageviews, and show multiple articles on your archive pages.
We hope that this article answered the question of whether you should use a full post or summary in your WordPress archive pages. You may also want to see our guide on how to move a WordPress from HTTP to HTTPS and WooCommerce made simple.
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wonderful post !!!!!
WPBeginner Support says
I was using full post style at a time, but I now use the excerpt system. I thinks it gives my readers a better experience.
WPBeginner Support says
Thanks for sharing your opinion
Mehdi Gharib says
Hope you are well.
I am facing with an issue on displaying full post in my blog page and do not how to fix this. It happens quite often to me
Can anyone help me?
Great post and I totally agree but I have a dilemma … and been searching for an answer but yet to find one. What if I want to display full posts in one continuous page for specific category … With ability to have comments section under each post … I know I could just use one single post and keep adding to it but Id rather have separate short posts but once you go into category it would just load all of them in one continuous scrolling page … Many thanks For your help.
WPBeginner Support says
What you are describing is totally do-able however it would require custom templates and infinite scrolling. Basically you would create a category specific template (or modify the one in your theme). You will have to change the code so that it shows individual posts with comments. Finally, you will have to add infinite scroll support to it so that new posts are loaded as a user scrolls down.
abood Naiim says
how to hide Excerpt
thanks for the post.
but, still i have a question about showin full post / only title and excerpt / only title and post thumbnail.
for a better ux i think its bad to show a part of post content in homepage and i want to :
show just “post thumbnail” + “post title”
it will be bad idea for hompage posts ? cuz there is no normal text anymore and my hompage is just links to other pages/posts/
-last articles (only post titles/post thumbnails)
how is it ?
Really a great site for WordPress beginner and who want to make a site with WordPress for own business.
Thanks a lot.
Francisco Martínez says
Excerpts and the more tag stopped working on the Publisher theme I am using.Do you know how I can fix this? Thanks.
Caroline Barron says
Great post, thank you. I find my readers don’t like the more tag if they are reading email subscriber posts on mobile phone; having to click through to the whole story. Is there a way to change it only on emailed out posts? Or, I’m thinking full post, then use WordPress SEO by Yoast to shorted them automatically on archive? Thoughts?
Noah's Dad says
I have read from several folks that you should no index the archives pages no matter what option you choose. Do you not agree with this?
WPBeginner Support says
It depends on different situations. If you are publishing your full posts on archives pages as well then you should probably noindex archives. However if you are using excerpts with canonical urls then there is no harm in letting them get indexed.
Leslie Nicole says
What about showing 1 full size feature image with excerpt and continue reading link? I’m in the photography/design field and just about ALL of my competition and peers use either full post or at least one large featured image. It looks nice – although I agree for mobile phone browsing the thumbnails are better. I’m not sure if I’m missing the boat with my customers by not putting more compelling images upfront (visual-oriented audience) or if I’m being smarter in thinking of responsive viewing.
Editorial Staff says
You can always use the read more tag and show the larger image with excerpt.
Nice post there! I completely agree with the fact that just as poor quality excerpts in the archive can prove detrimental for your site, a series of huge contents in the form of summaries can prove to be quite a clutter for the archive. Therefore crisp informative excerpts for archives should be the way to go!
How about also showing the excerpt in home page, too?
Unfortunately, the excerpt cuts all formatting and you have no control over the presentation,,,
Talha Tayyub says
Excerpt are much better and professional than Full post. Because it gives users choice to choose the topics of which they are interested instead of forcing them to read full post and then move on the next.