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Using The More Tag In WordPress

Avatar for John Locke

John Locke is a SEO consultant from Sacramento, CA. He helps manufacturing businesses rank higher through his web agency, Lockedown SEO.

The More Tag is one feature of WordPress that is still misunderstood by many users.

The More Tag is what triggers the Read More or Continue Reading type of links on an archive page of blog posts or other post types.

Most themes have a default link text for when the More Tag is displayed. This can be changed at the universal level, but also on a case-by-case basis (more on that later).

Many site owners forget to use the More Tag when publishing Posts, or simply don’t realize they have to insert it.

Luckily, using the More Tag is as simple as clicking a button.

Finding The More Tag

To trigger the Read More link on archive pages, you’ll need to decide where you want your preview content to stop, insert a More Tag there, and save your Post.

In the Text tab of the WordPress content editor, the More Tag looks like this:


If you’re editing a Post with the Text tab, the More Tag appears as a link up above the editor that reads more.

Where's The More Tag In The WordPress Text Editor? (screenshot of the text editor with an arrow to the More button)

If you use the Visual tab on the content editor, you’ll find the More Tag in roughly the same spot. Here’s what that looks like.

Where's The More Tag In The WordPress Visual Editor? (screenshot of the WP Visual  editor with an arrow to the More button)

The More Tag In Page and Archive Templates

The More Tag uses a built-in WordPress function called the_content() to display a Read More tag.

When no More Tag is present in an archive template, the_content() displays the full content of the Post. If there is a More Tag present, the Post content is displayed up until the point the More Tag occurs — then a Read More link appears.

A Few Words About the_excerpt()

Some themes use another WordPress function, the_excerpt(), to determine what displays before a Read More tag.

If your theme uses the_excerpt(), there is no need to use a More Tag when publishing Posts. The downside is the default is not a Read More link, but an ellipsis in brackets. If you need to replace this ellipsis with a custom link, here’s instructions on how to do just that.

The other bad thing about using the_excerpt() is the cut-off for teaser content defaults to 55 words. There are also ways to customize the default length of the_excerpt().

If you’re using the_excerpt() in your theme templates, WordPress will look for manual excerpts first. These are not true excerpts, as they don’t come from anywhere inside your Post, but are input into the Excerpt box, usually below the content editor.

If you’re not seeing the Excerpt box when you’re editing Posts, it may be hidden under the Screen Options tab on the top right corner of the screen. Each type of admin screen has it’s own set of Screen Options in WordPress.

Notice in the screenshot below we’ve checked the Excerpt checkbox to make sure that field displays.

Screen Options for Excerpts in WordPress (screenshot of an open Screen Options panel)

Manual excerpts appear as teaser content before the Read More link on archive pages.

Customizing The Read More Tag

Let’s say you’e using the_content() to display a Read More link in your archive template files. You can customize this to say whatever you’d like it to.

For example, if you wanted this link to say Continue Reading, you can pass that text as a parameter to the_content.

<?php the_content('Continue Reading'); ?>

Here’s one I didn’t know about until very recently. Did you know you can customize the More Tag on a case by case basis?

To do this, use the Text editor to create a Post, and where you normally put the More Tag, add the text you want to display in the link.

For instance, if you wanted a particular Post to display the words Consume Now instead of Read More, this is what it would look like:

<!--more Consume Now-->

Here’s what that looks like in practice:

Changing Individual Read More Buttons In WordPress {screenshot)

These are just a few examples of how you can use the More Tag and customize it for use in your own theme.

Avatar for John Locke

John Locke is a SEO consultant from Sacramento, CA. He helps manufacturing businesses rank higher through his web agency, Lockedown SEO.

2 comments on “Using The More Tag In WordPress

  1. Thanks for this post! Even though it’s not the precise kind of “read more” I was hoping to learn about, I did learn what this particular feature does and plan to use it.

    This “read more” feature appears to create a link to take a reader from an excerpt to a separate page. Do you know how to implement a feature that simply expands the current text field to expose the full contents? I have adjacent content boxes that I’d like to keep at relatively the same height (without resorting to CSS, since I’m neither an expert nor do I expect anyone else in the organization’s future to be) for aesthetic purposes, but they don’t warrant their own linked destination pages. Instead I’d just like to windowshade the content so the boxes are equal heights until the “read more” link is clicked in the box that contains it, revealing more text.

    1. Hi Hal:

      It sounds like what you are looking for is some sort of “accordion” functionality. If the organization will not have any ongoing development support, then you might look at something like this plugin by Arconix.

      Hope that points you in the right direction.


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