Installing Scalar

Scalar is a free, open source authoring and publishing platform that’s designed to make it easy for authors to write long-form, born-digital scholarship online. Scalar enables users to assemble media from multiple sources and juxtapose them with their own writing in a variety of ways, with minimal technical expertise required. To install Scalar, use these simple steps:

  1. Login to your control panel ( using your UNF username and password.
  2. Once logged in you’ll be at the homepage of your cPanel (control panel). Navigate to the Applications section of the cPanel then select Scalar.
  3. To begin the install click install this application in the upper-righthand corner.
  4. On the next page the installer will ask for some information about this install. The first thing you’ll want to do is decide where to install it. If you’re wanting to install Scalar on your main domain, you can leave the directory area empty. If you created a subdomain, you can select it from the dropdown menu. You also have the option of installing Scalar in a subfolder by typing in the folder name in the Directory field. Click here for more information about subdomains and subdirectories.
  5. By default the installer will automatically backup your website and update it anytime a new version comes out. While we recommend you keep this option, it is possible to only do minor updates, or turn them off completely. The installer will also create a database for you automatically, but if you’ve already created one for this website you can choose Let me manage the database settings and enter the details. Click Install to continue.
  6. The installer will take just a few moments to install Scalar and a progress bar will keep you updated. When it is complete you will see a link to your new Scalar site as well as a link to the backend administrative login screen for your Scalar site. Click the website link to configure your new Scalar installation.
  7. When you visit the website, you should see a sign in link. Use the email and password that you used when installing the application. You will then be presented with your Scalar main page. You are now ready to use Scalar to create and publish your book.

Using Scalar

Once you’ve finished the Scalar installation process and have signed in, you can learn how to use this application in the official Scalar 2 User Guide. This support guide will help you get started and begin creating your Scalar site. Since you have already created an account, you can begin with the section on Creating Your First Book.

UNF Faculty Theme

This theme is a child of the Superhero theme. Use it to give your blog a clean look with bright pops of color. It uses a UNF-styled header including a UNF osprey logo. It includes page templates where you can add a CV, as well as a course, research, and service page.

Signing Up Vs. Signing In

If you are brand new to the world of UNF Faculty Domains, you may not know what you need to do to start using it. So to begin, you first need to select a domain name that will look something like That is what we refer to as signing up. After you have signed up and have selected your domain (you only sign up ONCE), you will subsequently sign in. To sign up or sign in you will go to the same page at and click on the Get Started button or the Dashboard link.  After you have selected your domain name, and you sign in, you will see what is known as the Control Panel or cPanel screen.

Customize Your WordPress Site

One of the features of using WordPress is that it is almost infinitely configurable. That’s a good thing and a bad thing at the same time, since it can be difficult to find where to go to make a change to your site. In recent updates to the WordPress software, there has been a concerted effort to make the WordPress Customizer the default place to go to change the look and feel of a site.

It is not, however, universal. Meaning that what is on offer to customize depends on the theme you are using. Some theme designers give you lots of possibilities for customization. Others are pretty limited. In this document, we’ll be using the UNF Faculty Theme (which is based on the Superhero theme) as our example to customize.

You should be signed in to your WordPress site and viewing the Dashboard.

There are many section to this document, which makes it quite long. If you want to jump to a specific section of the Customizer, use the links below:

Go to the Appearance > Customize menu.

Customize from Appearance Menu

The Customizer allows you to see your changes immediately. The different options that are available to configure are located in the left sidebar, and there is a preview window for how the site looks, and will update when you make changes within the Customizer.

At the top of the Customizer (in the sidebar), you will see a message that “You are customizing, My Blog”. If you’ve changed the Title of your site, you will see something different.

Click on the question mark icon to get an expanded description of what the Customizer does.

There are what are known as Edit Shortcuts in the preview – indicated by an icon that look like this – 

Clicking on the Edit Shortcuts icon will take you directly to the area in the Customizer where you make the change.

For example, clicking on the Edit Shortcut icon in the header (between the logo and the Menu), sends you directly to the Menu Locations area.

The UNF Faculty theme has only one menu, called “Main“. Other themes might have multiple menus. If you click on Edit Menu, you will move to the editing area of the Main menu.

From here you can edit all of the Menu items, and even add items to the menu.

Clicking the Back button, near the top of the sidebar…

Customizer Back button


… will move you to the Menu editor area where you can add a new menu.

Click the Back button one more time to return you to the top of the Customizer.

Click the Save & Publish button at any time to commit your changes.

Now we can describe each Customizer section and how it affects your site.

Active Themes

As you know the UNF Faculty Template uses the UNF Faculty Theme by default. Click the Change button in the Active Theme area.

This will show you the Customizing Themes area.

Here you can preview another theme that is available in your WordPress installation. If your mouse your mouse over a them preview icon, a Live Preview button appears.

Clicking the Live Preview button in the above example will preview the Faculty Domains 2017 Theme. Clicking the Save & Publish button would change the theme for visitors of your site. Clicking the Customize button will return you to the Customizer and not change your theme.

Site Identity

The next option down the list of Customizer options is Site Identity. Here you change modify the Site Title and Tagline, choose whether to display them or not, also add a Site Icon.

You can change the Title and Tagline of your site to something like a name for the Title, and maybe your job title or department. Then click the checkbox labeled “Display Site Title and Tagline“.

Making the following changes…

… will result in your Header changing to:

The Site Icon area is a place where you can change what is also know as the Favicon. It is the icon that appears in your web browser tab when you visit a site. After the changes we made above, the tab in you browser might look like this (with a very plain looking icon):

If you choose to change the Site Icon (we recommend you do), make sure to follow the guidelines listed – Icons must be square, and at least 512 pixels wide and tall. Clicking the Select Image button will send you to the Media Library. There is an all-black UNF logo that is available to use.

Click on the logo in the Media Library and then click the Select button in the lower right corner. The Site Icon area will now reflect your changes with a represntation of what a web browser tab will look like and what a shortcut icon will look like on a mobile device. You can Save & Publish to commit your changes to the website, or you could click the Remove button, or the Change Image button. What they would do should be obvious.

Your web browser tab should now look someting like this:


The next Customizer area is Colors. Again, keep in mind that the option to change colors and what is available to change depends on the theme. For the UNF Faculty Theme you can change the Header Text Color and Background Color.

Let’s choose a couple of wild colors to show you how it changes the look of the site.

That gives us the Title text in bright yellow, and the site background color in bright green. You might want to change to more subtle colors that are easier to live with.

Header Image

The Header Image for the UNF Faculty Theme could actually be described more as a logo. The recommended size for images is 480 × 150 pixels. The current Header Image selection looks like:

If you want to change the image, click the Add new image button. Like you did in the Site Icon area, choose an image in the Media Library, again making sure you choose at least a 480 x 150 pixel image. We’ll choose the all-black University of North Florida logo. Click on the image and choose the Select and Crop button.

Now this gets a little tricky because you also need to “crop” the image. You need to drag the boundary around the entire image and then choose the Crop Image button.

Now the site Header will look like this, and frankly the black logo gets a little lost in the blue background, so you may not want to save this change.

Background Image

The Background Image area doesn’t get much use because it can make the site look a little busy, but we’ll demonstrate a change here anyway. Click the Select Image button to get started.

I’ve got an image of water on my computer so we’ll upload and choose that. In the Select Image window click on the Upload Files tab (instead of the Media Library, which are images that already exist on the site).

You can drag files from your hard drive into the window, or click the Select Files button and navigate to where the file exists on your computer. Your image will upload to the Media Library and you can click the Choose Image button. You can choose from several options.

Modify these to adjust the image to your theme. Your website looks like this with the CV page on view:

It may not be the professional look you want, but it demonstrates the feature. You always go back and Remove the background image.


We skip the Menus area since we covered that earlier.

We have three Widgets in the UNF Faculty Theme – Search, Links (a.k.a. “Blogroll”), and Recent Posts. You can configure any Widget by clicking on the down area on the top-right of the widget box.

There’s not much to configure in the Search Widget, but you could change the Title. So this…

… will give you this in the Widget area on your site.

Each Widget will have a varying number of options. Play around and see what things do. That’s what’s great about the Customizer.

You can also add new Widgets (and if you install certain Plugins, they will give you even more Widgets). Click on the + Add a Widget button. Shown below is a small sample of the available Widgets:

If we chose Audio, for example, we would have a Widget that would place an audio player in the sidebar of your site. It might look something like this:

Visitors could click on the Play button and listen to your Welcome Message.

Again, explore the other Widgets, and also explore other Plugins that install new Widgets.

Static Front Page

A WordPress site displays Posts on your home page by default. Every time you write a new post it will appear at the top of the page. If you would like to have another page appear as the home page, the Static Front Page area in the Customizer is where you change this.

Let’s say you want your CV page as the page that visitors to your site see first. Begin by click the “A static page” radio button, and then in the Front page selector choose Curriculum Vitae.

Click the Save & Publish button and now visitors will see your CV page first. Now you might be asking, “where did my Blog go?” Well, it’s still there, but we need to give it a new home. Let’s create one. In the Posts page section click +Add New Page. Type in Blog (or something else like “Latest News”) and then click Add.

A new page will be created on your site to house your Posts. Click Save & Publish to save your changes.

Now, let’s add it to our Menu. Go to the Menu Customizer (you can find your way there right?). Choose Main.

Now choose + Add Items. Next, click the Blog page. It will be added to your Menu.

Note that the resulting Menu configuration…

Will result in a menu that looks/functions like this…

You can move the Blog item under the other pages so that it is one continuous list of pages.

Additional CSS

The last Customizing area, Additional CSS, is quite technical, and better left alone if you’re new to WordPress. It allows you to make “code level” changes to your site. Having said that, if you consider yourself a rebel (or at least an experimenter), we can show you one modification that might be of use to you.

This is the area where we made changes to the style of the original Superhero theme (the parent theme) that this UNF Faculty Theme (the child theme) is based on. So let’s look at what’s there:

Oooh, it’s scary! Well, it’s just code and it changes the look or functionality of the site. So let’s make a minor change here. Look for the lines that read:

#masthead-wrap {
 background-color: #092C73;

That set of characters after the # sign is the background color of the Header (referred to as masthead-wrap in the code). Now change:




(or just #000 will work too).

If you like the change, click Save & Publish. If not, click the X in the upper left and choose Leave when asked “Do you want to leave this site?”

What we did was change the blue color to black. Zeros mean “no color” by the way and we need three zeros to indicate black. This system is called Hexadecimal Color or Hex Color for short – or the even less technical name, Web Color, which is beyond our scope here, but it is likely to be useful to you down the road.

Wow! That was a lot of information, but we hope it was helpful.







Edit Links Widget

The UNF Faculty Template has three WordPress widgets activated by default – the Search box, Links (also known as the “blogroll”), and Recent Posts. Search and Recents Posts are pretty self explanatory, so let’s show you how to edit your Links widget.

The Links widget is the middle one of those that appear on the sidebar of the home page.

There are two links included when you Install WordPress using the Faculty Template – one labeled UNF Academic Departments, and the other labeled Digital Commons Selected Works. We’ll edit the latter to link to an individual faculty “Selected Works” page.

You should be signed in to your WordPress site and viewing the Dashboard.

Choose the Links > All Links menu item.

The Links list should appear. They are the two we mentioned earlier.

Hover over the Selected Works link and click the Edit button.

Edit the Name of the Link and the Web Address.

For our purposes we’re going to make a link to a “pretend” faculty member (and no, they won’t work because there’s no such person).

Now click the Update Link button.

The Links widget will look like this when you update.


Add a Link

Now let’s add a new link to the Links Widget. At the top of the Links list, click the Add New button.

Fill in the Name, Web Address, and make sure you click “Links” checkbox in the Category area. We’ll call this link Faculty Bio. The Web Address will be that of a (non-existent) Faculty Bio page.

Now click the Add Link button.

Now you can view the home page with the new and edited links.

Note the sorting order of the links. In this case it is controlled by the link Rating. When you add or edit a link, you can choose a rating (it’s at the bottom of the screen).

Then if you edit the widget by going to Appearance > Customize and choosing Widgets

You’ll see the Links widget.

In this case, we have sorted by Link rating.




Editing a Page (CV example)

While WordPress pages are mostly static documents, you occasionally will want to edit them. We’ll take the CV (Curriculum Vitae) page in the UNF Faculty Template as an example.

From the Menu of the UNF Faculty Theme, you’ll see one of the pages is called Curriculum Vitae. To edit the page, you should be signed in to your WordPress site and viewing the Dashboard.

Go to the Pages > All Pages menu.

All of the Pages will now be on view.

Click on the page link for Curriculum Vitae (or click the Edit link below the name)

The page starts out looking like the following:

Edit the page just as you would in a word processor (Microsoft Word). Note the changes made:

You can finish the phone number and email address, then scroll down to continue editing the document until you reach the end.

As another example we’ll edit the first line of the Education section by making a hyperlink out of the words University of Minnesota. First, drag over the text to select the words:

Click the Insert/edit link button.

Add the address that you want the link to go to.

Press Enter on your keyboard or click the blue Enter button – .

You’ll now see the link added. You can click the Edit button (pencil icon – ), or the Remove Link button – 

You can now click the Update button to commit your changes.

You can now view your page on the website by clicking on the View page link at the top of the editor window.

Changes will look something like this:

If you need to do further editing, while viewing your page in the browser, click the Edit Page button in the top toolbar.

Now you can edit this page and others whenever you need to.


Managing Comment Spam with Akismet

SPAM! Everyone hates it in their email. If you’re new to WordPress and blogging platforms, spam exists in the form of comment spam – people (or vermin) leave comments promoting their services or schemes, on a post or page.

So how do you deal with comment spam when it can come in even more often than email spam? Do you have to delete every comment that comes in? Well, the answer to the second question is “no”, and the answer to the first question is, with a plugin called Akismet.

To get started we need to install a plugin. To do this, we’ll start at the Dashboard.

Navigate to Plugins > Installed Plugins.

At or near the top of the list of plugins that are automatically installed in a new WordPress installation, is Akismet. It is not activated, so part of the process of getting Akismet is Activating the plugin. Before you activate it, however, you need to get something that will be somewhat strange for most people. It’s called an API key. API stands for Application Programming Interface, and it’s a way for programs and services to “talk” to each other. The Akismet plugin requires you to get an Akismet API Key, which is simply a “code” that you supply when activating the plugin. The key is free if you use it on a personal WordPress installation, and it’s available on the Akismet website.

Once you arrive on the Akismet for WordPress site, click the Get an Akismet API key button.

If you have an account at you can sign in with that login and get your key. Otherwise, fill in an email address, a username, and a password to use for a new account. Click the Sign up button to proceed.

Type in the URL of the site you’ll use Akismet on and click on the Sign Up button under the Personal plan (that is if you want it to be the free version). When you get to the next page, the recommended contribution is $36. You can adjust the slider down to $0. The smiley face will begin to frown, but at least your key will be free.

Also fill in your name and click Continue.

You’re finished with the sign up process for your key, and it will be displayed on the page for you (we’ve blurred ours out). Now follow the steps that they show you for using your new key. You will enter the key in either the Akismet area under Plugins or JetPack (if you have that installed).

WordPress General Settings

Title and Tagline

Now that you have your WordPress installed and running, it’s time to look at some basic settings for your site. The place that you will access the settings for your site is called the WordPress Dashboard, and it provides the starting point for accessing all of your sites dials and knobs.

The setting we will look at here is your blog “title” and “tag line”. It is located under Settings > General. Once you’re on the General Settings page, you can give your blog any title you want. You can also give your blog a tagline, which can be a short description of the blog.

When you change the Blog title and tag line, they will show up at the top of your site. Depending on what theme you use, the title and tag lines will show up in various places. In the case of some themes, they might not show up at all depending on whether they allow custom configurations. We won’t worry about that for now. If you use the default theme (currently “Twenty Seventeen”), the blog title and tag line are both in the lower left of the main page.

There are more settings on the General Settings page, such as setting the administrative email account, time zone, date format, etc. Change those to whatever is appropriate for your site and geographical location.

Publishing Content

The primary activity that you’re likely to be doing on your WordPress site is publishing content. The content could be text you write, pictures you take, videos or audios (which may be hosted on another site), or other media that you’ve found elsewhere on the Web. WordPress makes it very easy to publish media content of all types, whether hosted on your actual Web server or elsewhere.

Posts vs Pages

Out of the box, WordPress provides two primary content types for you two work with: posts and pages. If you read blogs or have ever written for a blog before, the concept of a post is probably a bit familiar. Posts often are content that appear on your blog in some kind of scheduled way. They usually are presented on your site in reverse-chronological order. Posts might be what you use to share your regular thoughts, reflections, or ideas about a topic. Posts make up a kind of “river” of content that you’re producing as part of your blogging activity.

Pages usually correspond to our more traditional concept of what makes up a Web site. Pages are presented outside of the “river” of content that are posts. They are more likely to stand alone and be organized according to a traditional hierarchy. Pages might be content that is less frequently updated or changed.

If you were using WordPress to build a business Web site with a lot of information content, you would probably use Pages. If you added a feature to that site where you started to advertise special events or news, you would probably use Posts.

A few other things to know about Pages vs Posts:

  • If you want your content to be accessible to your users via RSS/syndication, you’ll need to use Posts. By default, Pages do not appear in a site’s RSS feed.
  • Categories and Tags (which are used in WordPress to help you organize your content) are ONLY available on Posts. Page organization is done through customizing your site’s menus.
  • WordPress, by default, also creates “Category Pages” and “Tag Pages” that display all the Posts in a category or tag. These are NOT related to the regular Page type.


Upon occasion, you will want to include media (images, audio, video) in your site’s posts and pages. There are generally two approaches to handling media in WordPress:

Uploading: You can upload the files into your site’s Media Gallery and then link to them in your posts/pages. This works very well for images, and when you take this approach for images you have the added benefit of being able to make use of WordPress’ built in (albeit rudimentary) editing tools. Also, when you upload images to WordPress, it automatically creates different sizes that you can use, as needed. When it comes to audio and video, we only recommend uploading small/short files. Video file especially can take up lots of space on your server, so use services like YouTube for your video needs. If you want to have your media (audio or video) files actually show up in a “player” (with controls for stopping, pausing, etc.) you just need to add them to a post or page using the Add Media button in the editor. How people view/listen to them will depend a bit on the setup on their own computer and in their own browser. They may, for example, have to download the media file and then open it in another program on their computer.

Embedding: You can embed media from other sites easily in WordPress. Embedding an image just means providing a URL to it’s location elsewhere on the Web. Instead of uploading it to the server, WordPress grabs that image from the external source and displays it on your post/page. However, with this approach you lose your editing capabilities as well as the resizing feature. Embedding audio and video from external sources becomes easier with every version of WordPress it seems. These days, you can embed video and audio from many external services (YouTube, Vimeo, SoundCloud, etc.) by simply placing the full URL of the audio/video location on it’s own line in your post/page. There is a complete list of supported external services, and you can learn more about embedding from external sources at the WordPress site. Our general advice is to use externally hosted media whenever it makes sense and works. This is usually the case when you need to use audio or video.

Post Formats

Recent versions of WordPress have built out a new “post format” feature which, if you are using a theme with the feature enabled, will style post formats differently depending on what they are. The formats that are built-in to WordPress (and are available for theme developers to use) are the following:

  • aside – Similar to a Facebook note update.
  • gallery – A gallery of images.
  • link – A link to another site.
  • image – A single image.
  • quote – A quotation.
  • status – A short status update, similar to a Twitter status update.
  • video – A single video.
  • audio – An audio file.
  • chat – A chat transcript.

Those of you familiar with Tumblr may recognize this approach to post formats.

For the most part, post formats are designed as a way to style a site (and customize styling depending on the kind of content that is being displayed). They have no special functionality, and their use depends entirely upon the theme you are using. Many older themes, for example, do not recognize post formats.

Reading Settings – Front Page

WordPress is a very flexible platform for creating full-blown websites, not just blogging sites. This page will show you how to change the “front page” of your website.

As we have said before, WordPress provides two primary content types for you two work with: posts and pages. Posts, as in blog posts, are a somewhat complex form of webpage. Each blog post gets published in reverse chronological order, on the front page of a WordPress site. You write a new post, and it gets published at the top of the front page. Pages, are a more static form of content. They are additional areas to put information that doesn’t change much. So what if you would like to make the front page of your WordPress site based on a page instead of your blog posts?

Start at the Dashboard.

Navigate to Settings > Reading.

Normally, the front page displays your latest blog posts. What we want to do instead is select a Page from the website. Obviously this page has to exist before you can select it. Select the “A static page” radio button and choose the About page from the Front page drop-down menu (an About page was created for you when you installed WordPress).

OK, great. Click the Save Changes button and now you will have the About page as your Front page. Edit it as you see fit and provide a good welcoming page for your visitors. But wait. What will happen to your blog posts? Most people will want them as the “dynamic” part of your site.

First, create a new Page and title it Blog (you can title it whatever you want but Blog is common and descriptive). Leave the page blank (don’t type any text in the edit box) and Publish it. Now go back to Settings > Reading. Under the static page area choose Blog from the Posts page drop-down.

Click the Save Changes button. Now your “home” page will actually display the About page. You will also have a Blog item in your menu (depending on your theme, you may have to customize your page display to see pages).

If you click on the Blog menu item, you will then see your blog posts. Notice the /blog added to the web address.

Part of the popularity of WordPress is how easily it makes a website functional and yet attractive. One of the smaller details that you might want to adjust is how the addresses to your blog posts are structured. Permalink is the name given to the address of an individual blog post because they are “permanent links”. For example, the web address for this sample blog is The link to the first post (you’ll have to scroll a bit to see it), titled “Hello World” may be structured in many ways.

So or both get you to that blog post, but the first example is not a very informative link and the second one is a bit long. With WordPress, you have many options to form the links to posts, and you can change them to make them more simple. To change the permalink structure, start by going to the Dashboard.

Next, go to Settings > Permalinks.

As you can see, there are several choices under Common Settings. A popular choice is to use the Post name choice, which is a bit more informative. So our post titled “Hello World” will have an address of

If you want to have the date as part of the address, you can choose Day and name or Month and name. You can also change the structure of category and tag names under the Optional section.

Finally, when you write a blog post, you have the option of editing the permalink for an individual post. Just click the Edit button (underneath the Title field).

Then type in whatever is appropriate (and hasn’t been used yet). Generally you want to make it as simple and short a word, or words, as makes sense. You could try

Building a Custom Menu

Start at your site’s Dashboard and choose Appearance the Menus.

In the Custom Menus interface that appears, type a name for your menu. This can be anything you want. It doesn’t get displayed anywhere; it’s used by WordPress to identify and place your menu. Once you’ve typed the name, click Create Menu.

You’ll now be presented with a screen that includes a section titled Menu Settings. This is where you’ll indicate where you want your menu to appear in your theme. The number of locations available depends entirely upon the theme you choose. In the example shown below, there are two areas available; we’ve chosen to place the menu in the Top primary menu area which we know corresponds to the header menu. You may need to experiment a bit in order to find out where your menu will appear in your theme. You can always change this location later by coming back here and clicking the Manage Locations tab.

Now that you’ve set up your menu and assigned it to a location, you can begin to add links to it. On the left-hand side of the screen, you’ll see what content is available to add. On the right-hand side of the screen, in the Menu Structure area, you can arrange and organize your links.

By default, you may not see everything that is available to you to add to your menu. For example, posts can be added to menus, but they’re not usually displayed by default. To make more content available, click the Screen Options tab at the top of your WordPress screen, and then click off the check boxes that correspond to additional content.

To add content to your menu, simply check it off on the left, and click the Add to Menu button.

Your new content will appear on the right, and you can drag items in the order you want them to appear. Drag items to the right to indent them under other items. This will usually make them appear as drop-down items in your menu.

You can add custom links to your menu by clicking the Links section on the left. In the short form that appears, enter your link’s URL, and a text for the link. Click Add to Menu to move it to the left.

Note that you can change the link text of any item you add to your menu. This can be helpful if you have a page with a long title, and you’d like the link to not take up so much space. You can abbreviate the title in the Navigation Label section, and that shorter text will become the actual menu link.

When you are done, make sure you click Save Menu.

Other Notes about Menus

When you add a Category or Tag to a menu, the link will take your readers to an archive of all the posts on your site that use that category or tag. This can be a very useful feature for organizing your content when you’re using posts to share your work.

In addition to assigning Custom Menus to theme areas, there is a default Custom Menu widget that you can put in the sidebar of your site. This is useful for creating smaller, customized navigation for your site.

If you forget to click Save Menu after making changes to your menu location or content, you will lose your work!

WordPress Widgets

Widgets are a more advanced feature of WordPress that allow you even more control over the content on your site. In essence, widgets are small containers of content that can be placed in various areas of your site. Where you can place widgets depends entirely on the theme you are using. Many (most) themes include at least one “sidebar” into which you can place widgets. Some themes include additional “widget” areas. The best way to find out what areas are available to you is to go to Appearance > Customize > Widgets and take a look at the areas listed on the left. Each widget area will appear on your site as a box on the right. In the example of the UNF Faculty theme, it contains a widget area called Sidebar.

You will see a number of widgets available to you. WordPress comes with some default widgets. Other widgets might become available when you have a particular theme activated. Finally, some plugins provide additional widgets to you.

Widgets can present all different kinds of information. The simplest widgets allow you to add text to your site. But you’ll also find widgets with many options that you can set to display dynamic content or to interact with other services. Below is a list of the default widgets available in WordPress.

When you’re ready to start using widgets, all you need to do is go into the widget (such as Sidebar) and then click the Add a Widget button. Click the Widget you want to add and then click Save & Publish at the top. WordPress will then display your new widgets.

Default Widgets

  • Archives: Shows a monthly listing of your posts.
  • Calendar: Shows a calendar view of your posts.
  • Categories: Shows a list of all of the categories on your site.
  • Custom Menu: Shows a custom menu that you’ve set up with WordPress’ Custom Menu interface.
  • Links: Shows your links.
  • Meta: Shows links to your RSS feed and your login.
  • Pages: Shows a menu of all of your pages.
  • Recent Comments: Shows the most recent comments on your posts.
  • Recent Posts: Shows your most recent posts.
  • RSS: Allows you to show content from an RSS feed.
  • Search: Provides your users with a search box.
  • Tag Cloud: Shows a “cloud” of the tags/categories on your site.
  • Text: Allows you to type text into the widget.

Basic Privacy

WordPress is a platform intended to allow you to share your thoughts and ideas freely and easily with the world. However, there are options to publish to a more limited audience.

The first way is to limit who can find your website. That is done by keeping search engines, like Google, from seeing (known as indexing) your site.

To do this, we’ll start at the Dashboard.

Navigate to Settings > Reading.

Normally the box next to Search Engine Visibility is unchecked. If you decide to check the box, it will “Discourage search engines from indexing this site.” It will depend on the search engine to honor your “request”. Some search engines will simply ignore it. Obviously this is not a sure-fire way of keeping your blog private.

You also have options on individual posts to keep them private, so that only people who are logged in to your site can view a given post. You can also password protect posts with a password you supply. Choose the Private radio button to keep a post hidden behind the login, or choose the Password protected button and then type in the password you wish to use. Click on OK when you are finished. Then be sure you click the Update button to save your post with the new settings.

There is a plugin called More Privacy Options that allows you to fine-tune privacy settings on your site.

Discussion Settings

What makes WordPress a powerful platform is that not only can you create a dynamic website, but you can also allow dynamic discussions about the content with your visitors. Comments, the bread and butter of the discussion, can add to the overhead of your website management. You have to keep up with responses to your commenters or they will think you aren’t paying attention. Comments also can come, unfortunately, in the form of Spam. We will give you some additional information about dealing with spam in another section. For now, here’s how to manage your Discussion Settings.

Start at the Dashboard.

Navigate to Settings > Discussion.

The two main forms of discussion on a website are enclosed – “Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks)” and “Allow people to post comments on new articles”.

Comments are self-explanatory. People come to your website, read an article, and as long as you allow comments, people can write whatever is on their mind. Commenters must leave their name and email address (if you leave that setting checked). You can also require users to be registered to your site to comment. They would then need to be logged in to submit any comments. By default you will get an email sent to the admin account of the WordPress site when someone posts a comment, or when a comment is held in moderation. You can uncheck those boxes if you do not wish to receive those emails.

A comment will appear on the article (post or page) only after you approve it. If you have approved a comment author once, they will be automatically approved the next time they leave a comment on your site. If you uncheck the box labeled “Comment author must have a previously approved comment”, then all comments will appear automatically. We don’t recommend this setting.

You also have some control over comment moderation regarding how many links a comment contains (spammers like to put links in their “comments”). You also can filter out words, URLs, email addresses, to hold them in moderation. You can then approve them, spam them, or trash them.

There are also forms of discussion called link notifications. Spammers like these too. Here’s an article on the What, Why, and How-To’s of Trackbacks and Pingbacks in WordPress.

Sometimes it’s nice to have visual representations of the people who are commenting on your blog. These are called Avatars and can be found under Settings > Discussion.

WordPress uses a common universal system of avatars called Gravatars (Globally Recognized Avatars). The system requires you to sign up with your email address. You can upload a graphical representation of yourself (a picture or other graphic). From then on you are identified with your Gravatar on any blog that you use that email address with.

In the WordPress Discussion Settings, you have a few options. Whether to show Avatars at all, the “rating” allowed to be shown, and what the default Avatar will be if a user does not have a Gravatar.

iOS & Android App

You can download a WordPress mobile app from the iOS App Store or the Google Play Store for your mobile device. With these apps you can do many of the things you can do with the administration interface, including writing blog posts.

UNF Faculty Template Plugins

For the UNF Faculty Template WordPress installation we have selected a few plugins that will come in handy right away. Below is what the Plugin page should look like after you have installed the Template:

Descriptions of the installed plugins:

  • Akismet – This is the standard anti-spam plugin and will help you keep your site tidy and relatively spam-free. This plugin will automatically recognize unwanted comments on your blog as spam and filter them out. Unfortunately, blogs are kind of like email accounts. People (spam-bots) try to add comments to your website so they can get more links to their site. Spam blockers like Akismet help to automate the management of blog spam. It will even learn from the spam you get and refine itself so you’ll more easily remove unwanted spam and let legitimate comments through – with your approval of course. You can read more about blog spam in the article How to Identify and Control Blog Comment Spam. Akismet is free to use for non-commercial purposes. You’ll need what’s known as a API Key (kind of like a license code) for to use Akismet.
  • Cookies for Comments – This is a plugin that essentially checks to see whether a commenter on your website is a spam-bot or not. A spam-bot (spam robot) will look for an easy way to submit a comment. Cookies for Comments will help detect a spam-bot and immediately move the comment to the spam area. In concert with Akismet this plugin helps eliminate dealing with spam comments. For more information, read the article How to Reduce WordPress Comment Spam with Cookies for Comments.
  • Limit Login Attempts – So not only are their spam-bots out there, but also bots that try to gain access to your site. They’ll try to guess your username and password multiple times to see if they get in. That is why you first need to use a strong username and password. Limit Login Attempts will then limit the number of tries you have to get the username and password right. So you might think, well if people are trying all sorts of usernames and passwords on my site this we’ll prevent me from logging in right? No, because it checks what computer on the Internet is trying to access the login. It checks to see what IP address (the unique computer Internet number – every one is unique) the login is coming from and allows a total of 4 tries before it locks out the ability to login. This plugin, along with strong usernames and passwords, Really Simple SSL (below), and the Wordfence Security plugin (also below) will keep you site very secure.
  • Really Simple SSL – Hackers either try to guess at logins or they try to capture information as it travels over the Internet or WiFi connections. Really Simple SSL will add strong encryption to your site to make it secure. In other words hackers won’t be able to look at streams of data trying to find usernames and passwords (or credit card & social security numbers) embedded in that data. It sets up a private connection between your visitor and your website, that way the visitor can be confident that any information they submit won’t be intercepted. This is obviously most important for sites that are selling things and taking credit card and other information. It will also help your Google search engine ranking. Visitors must use a web browser that supports SSL and HTTPS, but all the modern browsers do. You can read more about How to Use SSL and HTTPS with WordPress.
  • Subscribe To Comments – Subscribe to Comments is a plugin that enables commenters to sign up for e-mail notification of subsequent entries. This allows you to be notified if there is further conversations about a blog post.
  • Wordfence Security – This is a multipurpose security plugin. This free version provides basic protections from hackers and detects various security issues on your site. It notifies you which IP addresses are trying to gain access to you site, and allows you to block those addresses. The Introduction to WordPress Security article, and the WordPress Security Learning Center are great resources for keeping your WordPress site secure.
  • WordPress Importer – This plugin will allow you to import WordPress content (posts, pages, comments, etc.) from one WordPress site to another. For example, let’s say you’ve had a site for a while, but now you want to take advantage of the additional capabilities that a hosted WordPress site offers. You would export your content from your site, and then install the full WordPress software using your web hosting company, and then import your content into the new site.

One more plugin that we highly recommend is the JetPack plugin. It is a Swiss Army knife plugin that provides lots of capabilities for managing your site. We don’t install it by default because it does have a lot of moving parts, and so it’s best installed after you have used the WordPress system for a little while. We’ll have a separate document to describe some of its capabilities soon.

Finally, it is a good idea to have a account if you don’t have one already. You’ll need it to activate the Akismet plugin, and will be necessary to use the JetPack plugin as well.