Add Variety with Post Formats

What’s the difference between these two blogs?

Need a hint? It’s not the theme (both are using Twenty Thirteen). It’s not CSS modifications, or anything that requires an upgrade or any special skills.

Ok, I’ll just tell you: the second example is using Post Formats! Post formats add visual variety to your blog by displaying different types of content in slightly different ways.

Never experimented with post formats? You are in for some fun!

Applying Post Formats

When you head over to the New Post screen, you see the following row of options:

New Post

You’re probably pretty familiar with the Text format — that’s your typical standard post, with a title and text, to which you can also add images, video, and more.

So if you can do all that with the Text format, why do those other options exist?

They are there if you’d like to take advantage of a theme that supports Post Formats.

Note: Not all themes support post formats. You can browse the themes that do here. If your theme doesn’t do anything special with post formats, you should just stick to the standard Text posts. You can still add any type of media to Text posts.

For example, if you choose the Image format, you’ll notice the post editor looks a bit different:

Image post

The Image format is meant to highlight a specific image. This is the perfect post format for those snaps of your dinner, or the picture of your dog doing something cute. If you have a single image, but not a full post’s worth of stuff to say about it, try out this post format!

Post Format Examples

Ok, so you’re ready to try out a post format. What’s it going to look like? Depends on the theme! For example, here’s how our Image post appears in a number of themes (click to enlarge):

You can see that each theme does its own thing to highlight this image post: Ryu shows the image above the post title (as opposed to below it) and chooses a background color that highlights the image. Flounder adds a bright green background and an image icon. Sorbet also adds an icon – pastel-colored – and Spun keeps all decoration at a minimum to really focus on the image itself.

Let’s take a look at how these same four themes treat a post with the Quote post format:

Ryu puts the title beneath the quote, and sets the whole thing in a different font. Flounder and Spun omit the title altogether, since the post is a quote and doesn’t necessarily need one. Flounder again sets a special background color, and both Flounder and Sorbet add a quote icon.

As you can see, there’s quite a bit of variety in the way themes employ post formats. If you want to preview how a certain theme will handle formats before switching to it, you can check out the theme’s Live Demo from the Theme Showcase.

In addition to Images and Quotes, there’s also a special Video format. In Ryu, for example, the video is floated over a black ribbon to better pop it out from the rest of the content:

Ryu video

Then, there’s the Link format, for those times when you want to share a post or article you enjoyed, but you don’t have a great deal of commentary on it. Here’s how this looks in Sorbet:

Sorbet link

Some themes use post formats in other unique ways. For example, Twenty Fourteen offers an “Ephemera” widget that you can select to display any post format, so that a feed of just those posts appears in your sidebar.

Here I’ve used the Ephemera widget for my Image posts, to highlight my photography in the sidebar:


Editing Post Formats

Let’s say you create your Image post, and then you decide that you wanted to make that particular post a Gallery. How do you change its post format?

First, head over to the classic Dashboard and go to Posts→All Posts. If you’ve been using post formats, you’ll notice some icons next to your post titles:

Post Format Icons

These icons show you at a glance which posts are formatted, and which format is applied. When you edit an individual post, you’ll see a Format module:

Format module

There, you can select a different post format, and update your post to apply it.

Note: If you do not see the Format module, check that you have it enabled in your Screen Options. If you don’t see the Format option there, then you are likely using a theme that does not use post formats.

You’ll notice that there are a number of formats in that module that don’t appear on the homepage — Aside, Status, Gallery, and Audio. Each of these formats has its own special look too, so there are a ton of options to play with!

Also, don’t feel bound to use post formats exactly as advertised. Add a video to your Gallery post format, or throw an image in with your Quote! Why not? Go mix it up and have some fun!

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  1. Thanks SO much for this! Whew! You’ve reminded me to check my format on each post (over 700!) which I have needed to do for ages, although my current theme does not make much of a change for each format, I surely want to be able to switch easily to one that does, someday.
    Ever think of corralling all those lists of features in one search engine? I would love to search for certain aspects that way!
    In your spare time, of course. 😉


  2. This is something that’s causing me great puzzlement: I use the Motif theme, which is in theory set up with all manner of formats. But the Screen Options dropdown doesn’t mention them; and I have thus far not seen the slightest difference in any post when using or not using a format. It’s probably me, but I’d give quids to know how to manage this properly ….


    1. Motif supports post formats, but the differences between them in that theme are not very dramatic. You can see an example of each here:

      One other thing I did not mention above is that using a post format provides a link to that format in each post. So if someone clicks on the little “image” link above any of your Image posts, for example, they’ll get an archive of all image posts:

      This can be handy. 🙂


  3. Explains why I couldn’t work it out. I will have to change my theme first. I’ve been thinking of doing that anyway. Thanks for this post.


  4. Thank you for a great post! The information is really useful!

    One thing I find quite irritating while using The New Post screen is that there is no field to select the Category. I have to go to my Dashboard and Edit the post to complete that. Is it possible to fix this?


  5. Thanks, very useful as always. Following the examples above I’ve switched my theme to Twenty Thirteen to experiment a little with it, and sadly I don’t see the dramatic changes like pictured…
    I have two post types (Image and Standard) and they both look the same (except for changes in the title header size and the tags being displayed on Standard Posts and not Image…).
    Is there any special option to activate to get the big color rows like you showed?


    1. Those are the two post formats that leave the default background in Twenty Fourteen. 🙂 If you want to try it out again, try a Gallery, Quote, etc. You can always apply one of those formats to a post with standard content if you just want to make the colors show up.


  6. Very useful tips.. Thanks alot ! 🙂

    Could someone also please tell me how to widen the visibility of posts in terms of its width dimension. There are lots of white-spaces on my blog front right now on both sides of the posts..