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3 Ways To Add Colour To Your Book Blog

close up photo of multi coloured pencils, adding colour to your book blog
Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

If you’ve had a book blog for several years you might be thinking it’s time to freshen up the way it appears to readers.  

One obvious solution is to change the theme. But it takes time to sift through the hundreds of design options to find the one offering the right layout and functionality. And if you use plug ins, you could find that some of these won’t work any longer so you’ll have to find replacements.

There’s another – and simpler – solution: just change the colour of your text.   You can change the text colour across the whole site. Or you can just change the colour of headings and a few words. You might decide for example that you want to use colour to draw attention to the title of the book you’re reviewing.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on three ways to change text colour in a WordPress site. Let’s do the two easiest ones first!

Method #1. Change Text Colour Using WordPress Classic Editor

WordPress editor gives you the ability to put individual words, sentences, paragraphs, or subheadings in a different colour from your main text. The method you’ll follow will vary slightly between WordPress classic editor and WordPress Gutenburg editor 

1.First you need to create a new post or a page and add your text (or you can edit an existing piece of content).

2. Click on the toolbar toggle icon on the far right. You’ll see a second row of icons which give you additional formatting functions.

Diagram showing how to change text colour in a book blog

3. Select the text whose colour you want to change. Click on the arrow to the right of the A symbol to access the dropdown menu.

The colour palette gives you 39 colour options. The small “x” in the bottom right corner will activate “no colour”, meaning the text colour will automatically adjust to the default colour.

A word of caution about some of these colours. The yellow, teal and peach might look pretty but text in those shades will be hard to read. As a general rule, avoid the pale tints. Dark and solid colours work best against a white background.

4. If you don’t like these colour choices, you can get more flexibility by clicking the word “custom” underneath the colour squares.

Diagram showing how to change text colour in a book blog

5. Now all you need do is click the small circle and drag it within the colour rectangle to find the shade you want. As you move around you’ll see a corresponding change in colour square in the bottom right corner.

You should also notice that the numbers shown in the text boxes labelled “R” “G” “B” and “#” also change. The RGB numbers indicate the specific composition of your colour (the proportion of red, green and blue). The “#” figure is called a Hex code and is a shorthand formula for each colour.

It’s well worth making a note of these numbers so you can be sure to use the exact same shade across all your site.

6. When you’re happy with your choice, just click on “OK”. Your custom colour will now be saved in the colour palette.

Method #2. Change Text Colour Using WordPress Gutenburg Editor

1. Create your text using the paragraph block or heading block.

2. To change the colour of the entire block, simply click on the block. You should see the block settings panel on the right side of your screen.

Diagram showing how to change text colour in a book blog

3. The visual editor will show you some options based on your theme. Just click on one of these to change your text colour. Or choose a custom colour by following the same steps as in the classic editor. If you also want to change the colour background for a text block, you can do that here.

To change the colour of just a few words, or a sentence, you need to use a slightly different technique.

4. First highlight the word(s) you want to change. Then, click the small downward arrow on the content editor toolbar to reveal a drop down menu of formatting options. Why the Gutenburg developers thought it a good idea to hide these behind the arrow, is a mystery but that’s where you’ll find the ‘Text Colour’ link.

5 Click on that to see the same colour options you had when changing the text within the whole block. This includes picking one of the default options or selecting any colour you want by using the custom colour link.

A few extra things worth knowing:

  • If you change your mind about a custom colour you selected, just go back to the colour palette and hit the “X” – it will restore the default. .
  • You can also change the text colour of a bulleted list but only by highlighting each line in the list. the colour of a whole list block. Nor can you change . Very irritating.
  • You can’t change the colour of the bullet point in a list. Any colour changes affect the whole line
  • You can change the colour of individual words in a heading. But you cannot change the background colour of a heading.

Method #3. Change Text Colour Across
The Whole Site

Every WordPress website has default font colours depending on which theme you selected. Some work better than others. Light grey body text, for example, is difficult to read when set against a white background.

Can you change these default colours?

Yes you can but only if your selected theme allows customisation. Mine does but it’s very limited. I can change only the colours of the blog header and the background colour. If my selected theme was more compatible with Gutenburg block editor I would be able to do a lot more colour customisation.

Your theme may give you more flexibility. So here’s what you need to do.

1.Open your WordPress dashboard, select Appearance – then Customize to open up the Theme Customizer.

Diagram showing how to customise  a book blog

2. Once in the Theme Customiser look for an option such as ‘Typography’. The name of the option will vary depending on your theme. If you don’t find anything like this, you’re out of luck unfortunately.

But if you do find something like typography, you should get another menu which looks similar to this:

3. Click on “Body” You need to click on this to get the colour palette. Choose your colour just as you did when changing the colour of individual words and headings. The choice you make here however will change the text colour in all your posts and pages.

If you want to change colours of all headings across your site, this is also the place to do just that – you just click on each heading size and select the colour.

Didn’t work for you? If you’re prepared to put effort into it, there is an alternative method you could use to change the default font colour. I warn you though that it’s rather more fiddly and technical and is available only if you have WordPress.com Premium or Business plans. It involves the use of CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) code.

I’ve had a peek at some of the instructions and decided it’s far too complicated. Even WordPress says it can occasionally be complex. I don’t have the enthusiasm to battle with coding, especially when it looks as if I have to change themes anyway to overcome some compatibility issues with my current theme.

If any of you are feeling emboldened however and want to have a go at the CSS method, just leave a comment here and I’ll get you the instructions.

If you have a go at any of these methods, let me know about your experience. Don’t forget to check out the other articles in the A2ZofBookBlogging series page.

Blue Graphic with heading of A2Z of book blogging. Sub heading of 3 Ways to Add Colour to Your Book Blog

WordPress Retires “Classic Editor”: What This Means For Your Blog

There was one important change missing from my recent post on upgrades to the WordPress platform. At the time it went live, I hadn’t seen the official announcement WordPress that they are retiring the Classic Editor in the next few months.

Fortunately Hugh who blogs at hughsviewsandnews.com is more on the ball than I am and just alerted me to this announcement which will have big implications for all of you who love the Classic Editor. 

woman in white shirt showing frustration
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

So what exactly is going on? 

From Classic To Block Editor

To understand that, we need to backtrack to 2017. If you were blogging before then via WordPress you created your content using Classic Editor (for ease of reference I’ll call this version 1).

It looked like this:

WordPress Classic Editor Version 1

In 2017 WordPress began to showcase a replacement editor called Gutenburg in “an effort to simplify into one elegant concept: block”. People who wanted to continue using Classic Editor were told all they had to do was install the Classic Editor plug in. When activated, this restored the Classic Editor (version 1) and hid the new block editor (“Gutenberg”).

This version 2 looked like this:

WordPress Classic Editor – version 2

Matt Mullenweg, founder and CEO  reassured users that support for the Classic Editor would be available for “many years to come.” Last year, WordPress refined their position. Classic Editor plugin “will be fully supported and maintained until at least 2022, or as long as is necessary”, according to their blog.

But then in May this year, WordPress announced:

On June 1 we’ll be retiring our older WordPress.com editor and transitioning to the more recent (and more powerful) WordPress block editor.

Essentially this means Classic Editor version 1 will not exist after June 2020. though the timing later shifted to August 11. WordPress said:

From August 11 on all WordPress.com accounts will start to switch from Classic editor to the new Block editor. It will happen in phases, and you’ll get an email to let you know to expect the change.

And why is this happening? According to WordPress:

There are exciting new features in the pipeline that require the new WordPress editor. It’s not technically possible to retrofit them into the older, Classic editor, and we want to make sure everyone can take advantage of them as they become available. With all WordPress.com users publishing with the Block editor, all WordPress.com users always have the latest and greatest.

End Of Classic Editor As You Know It

If you’re a die hard fan of Classic Editor and hate the new block editor, that statement “all WordPress.com accounts will start to switch from Classic editor to the new Block editor“, might have sent you into a spin. You’d be forgiven for thinking WordPress is forcing you down the Block Editor path.

It’s true that Block Editor is what they really want you to use. But fear not, you can still use Classic Editor. You just have to access it in a different way.

To use what I’ll call Classic Editor version 3 you have to add a “Classic block” to your post or page. You can do this in two ways. Both start by clicking on the small plus symbol which brings up a simplified block menu.

The simplest method is to just type “classic” into the search field in the menu.

There is a slightly longer method which I mention only because it gets you familiar with the full suite of blocks (ready for the day when you’ll have to use block editor completely).

In this method, in the simplified block menu, click on the “browse all” text – your screen will now show, on the left, the full block menu. Scroll through the various blocks in the Text category until you find the one called Classic. Then just click to add.

Whichever method you use, the result will be the same.

Your screen will now look like this:

Not too dissimilar to version 2. You get the same tools and options and in the same spot. WordPress recommends that you use a single Classic Block for each post or page, rather than try to mix in other blocks. For more details about how to work within the new Classic Block environment check out this tutorial.

What’s not clear to me is what happens to older posts and pages that were created in earlier versions of Classic Editor? Will they automatically be upgraded to the newer version? If so, will the formatting be retained or are you likely to have to do some fixes?

Time To Get Prepared

WordPress have said they will notify each blog owner about the timing for switching their site from classic to block. Some of you may have already been notified. If you’ve made the switch, it would be great to hear how it’s worked out. Did it go smoothly or did you hit any problems?

For everyone else still using Classic Editor, I’d highly recommend you start preparing to make the switch to the Classic Block. Create a dummy post that you can use for practice, getting familiar with the tools and how the block works.

If you do that ahead of the notification you’ll have gained valuable experience and confidence in using the Classic Block. Plus, you’ll avoid the nightmare that one day you fire up your WordPress account ready to create a new post, only to be confronted by a completely unfamiliar screen.

Day 3 of #12Days of Christmas book game

3-french-hens

 

On the third day of Christmas my true love sent to me
Three French Hens

Day 3 of the 12 Days of Christmas game and giveaway.

Our task today is to come up with book titles that match the third line of the song The Twelve Days of Christmas. This means yet more birds but hopefully slightly easier than day 2. Remember you can try to stick to the prompt of ‘french hens’  for titles of books or authors (??) or cover images though other than a cookery book I’d be struggling with this. OR you can go off piste and be creative.

Booker Talk Titles for Day 3

I failed even more miserably with French Hens than with yesterday’s prompt of turtle doves, so I have had to think more broadly. I don’tt know that these qualify as hens since the authors are not all female, but here are three French titles from my TBR list.

The Kill by Emile Zola: I became enamoured with Zola when I read Germinal so have been slowly reading other titles from the Rougon-Marquet series. It’s a long term project since there are twenty books in the cycle. Here’s the status of my Zola project so far.  I’ve picked The Kill (in French this book is known as La Curée) because it’s book number 2 in the series. Apparently this is a different kettle of fish to the predecessor  La Fortune des Rougon that I read last year – The Kill is a study of the next generation of the Rougon family and the wealth they acquire but it also a plot involving sexual and political intrigue.

Candide by Voltaire:  I’ve never read anything by Voltaire so when I saw this – the only title of his I’ve heard of – in a secondhand charity shop I snapped it up but in three years I’ve never felt compelled to open it. All I know is that its a satire first published in 1759 which features the young man, Candide, who lives sheltered life in which he is indoctrinated by his mentor, Professor Pangloss. This lifestyle comes to an abrupt end and Candide then begins a painful process of disillusionment. The philosophical content is putting me off rather – have any of you read it? If so, would you recommend it?

My third title is another classic – this time by Balzac who I read for the first time in 2015 and loved. La Cousine Bette. This is an 1846 novel set in Paris which tells the story of an unmarried middle-aged woman who plots the destruction of her extended family.  The book is part of the Scènes de la vie parisienne section of Balzac’s novel sequence La Comédie humaine (“The Human Comedy”).

Now over to you – here’s How to Play:

Come up with book titles or book images or anything book related (could be the name of a location mentioned in the book or a character) that matches with either ‘French’ or ‘Hens’ or both if you are feeling adventurous. Let’s see how creative you can be. I’m looking ideally for 3 titles/images etc . You can mix and match your nominations.

Put your titles into the comments field of that day’s post. Don’t just give me the name since you could easily get that from a Google search – tell us something about the book itself. Why did you choose these titles – are they from your TBR or ones you’ve seen mentioned on a blog. Please try not to just use lists from Goodreads etc.

Feel free to blog about this on your own site or via Twitter using the #12days hashtag

The Giveaway

There’s an incentive to play along with this which is a giveaway of a book up to the value of $20 USD from the Book Depository

To participate, your list of books must be in the comments field by 10pm GMT/5pm Eastern Standard Time on Sunday Dec 4.

Day by Day Prompts

Day 1:   Partridge in a Pear Tree
Day 2:   Turtle Doves
Day 3:    French Hens
Day 4:   Calling Birds
Day 5:    Gold Rings
Day 6:   Geese a-Laying
Day 7:   Swans a-Swimming
Day 8:   Maids a-Milking
Day 9:   Ladies Dancing
Day 10:  Lords a-Leaping
Day 11:   Pipers Piping
Day 12:   Drummers Drumming

Rules of the Game

1.Each day a post will go live on booker talk.com matched to the task for that day. All you to do is post a comment with your list of books on the page

2. Each day try to come up with 3 titles. No need to think of 11 books featuring pipers or eight with maids in them. This is meant to be fun not mission impossible…..

3. Participants are encouraged to be creative with the names of titles matching each day. But the books do need to be in existence – no scope here for making up your own titles.

4. The number of contributions per person will be totalled and the one with the highest number will win the prize. So if you post three titles for day 6 and 5 on day 11, that gives a total of 8 points.

5. Contributions should be entered on the page within the time limit stated each day – typically I will give 48 hours between the time I post the day’s challenge and when comments will be closed.

6. You don’t need to play every day in order to be entered for the prize. Some days will be easier than others – and anyway you have all that shopping and packing still to do

7. There is only one prize – available internationally. The Prize winner will be announced on the blog around about the 15th of December.

6. The prize is that you get to choose a book up to the value of $20 USD from the Book Depository that I will arrange to ship to you. This will probably not arrive until next year given the last postage dates for international mail.

 

Sunday Salon: Plans go Adrift

sundaysalonThis was a week which didn’t quite turn out the way I had planned.

It did start on a high note as the first edition of Shiny New Books plopped into my in box. Many of you will have already seen this but for the uninitiated I should explain that this is a new quarterly on line bookish magazine created by four UK based bloggers (Annabel, Victoria, Simon and Harriet). I was thrilled to be invited to contribute to the first issue with a review of Jim Crace’s Harvest. I knew this would be a good quality magazine because the four people are seasoned reviewers of some 30 years experience between them and know a lot about the literary world. I wasn’t prepared for just how good it would be however – scores of reviews and articles and all high quality. Do take a look and sign up for the newsletter (I warn you now that your reading wish list will likely get longer as a result.)

After that high spot, things went a little downhill.

Firstly, the magazine I’d bought which promised to show me many smart techniques for improving this blog using WordPress, turned out to be a mistake. Not the publishers’ fault, I should have studied it more closely. The tips were good, but the problem is that they seemed to work only if you have the self-hosted version available at WordPress.org not the fully-hosted wordpress.com version which is what I have. So the plug ins which you need to do cool things with images and tagging are not available. Which meant all my plans to get this blog into better shape went out of the window. 

And then, despite promising myself that I would devote time to catching up on all the reviews I have yet to write, how many did I actually do? None. Procrastination was one factor (I do seem to take an inordinate amount of time to actually decide what to write). The other was that I only had the use of an iPad since I was away from home and the WordPress system doesn’t seem to be that compatible with iPad. Text jumps around and if you try and do copy paste, you can’t seem to get the cursor to land exactly where you want to paste the text. I gave up…..

On the plus side though instead of blogging and writing, I could spend the time reading and finishing both the Guernsey Literary & Potato Pie Society (if this hadn’t been a book club read I wouldn’t have bothered finishing it) and Keri Hulme’s The Bone People which was much better than I expected it to be.

Next week I’ll be starting to think what books to take with me on a short holiday to Italy jus after Easter. Ideally I’d like something set in Italy but I don’t seem to have anything on the shelves that fits the bill and I haven’t come up with anything yet that I can go out and buy. Any suggestions/recommendations from you would be welcome – if possible of something set in Verona/Milan or that region…….

Sunday Salon: blogging secrets revealed

sundaysalonI’ve been blogging now for more than a year but it still feels like I’m in the primary grade class in terms of what I know and understand about the art of blogging.

That began to change this week as I read through an early reviewers copy of The Blogger’s Survival Guide, courtesy of LibraryThing. It’s a how-to guide written by two women authors who are experienced bloggers using content from a site they established thesocialmediapanel.com.

Some of the content is fairly standard and even for someone as wet behind the ears as I am, it felt like fairly basic guidance about creating content, checking grammar etc. But then we got into the more technical and advanced stuff and some gems of info. Here are the gems I found.

5 Useful Blogging Tips

  1. Be careful about the size of images used or you’ll make the page slow to load which will irritate readers. Avoid pulling the picture into the page and then resizing. Get it to the size you want first
  2. Set up a blogging schedule. Work out how much time you have to spare each week and how to allocate it against the various tasks of writing posts, engaging in social media, search engine optimisation, promotions and (if this is relevant for you) how to use the site to generate income. Now these women clearly have about double the time I have available in an ordinary week to spend on blogging but there were still some great tips about  being more efficient with the time available.
  3. Understand search engine optimisation (SEO) extremely well if you want search engines to find you. First step is to discover some key word phrases relevant to your content – use google analytics to see how frequently people search using those terms.
  4. Try to keep your titles to max of 4 words and avoid commonly occurring words like in, we, I, me etc
  5. Follow the tips at GTmetrix.com to learn how to speed up the performance of your site. Remember that readers are impatient and if the page takes a long time to load, they’ll click away

WordPress Users Tips

My other gold mine find this week was a WordPress Tips blog that is packed with tutorials and detailed instructions on how to get your pages to look the way you want. I followed the guide on how to create tables so my list of reviews was easier to navigate (something I couldn’t figure out at all using WordPress’s own instructions). It took me some time to get used to writing code but I got there in the end and was delighted with the result. You can see the effect on one of my book review listings pages. Highly recommend you take a look at the WordPress Tips blog.

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