10 WordPress plugins to enhance your blog's typography

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August 19, 2011
Have you ever visited a blog and noticed immediately how the typography added sophistication and really made the content stand out? Perhaps it was an elegant typeface that fit the theme of the blog, or white space that was used proficiently throughout the layout. Whatever it was, it caught your eye, and you probably wondered how they did it. These kinds of readability enhancements are done either via manual CSS styling or with plug-ins. If you’re not familiar with CSS coding, then plug-ins are definitely the way to go, and this article highlights the top 10 typography-related WordPress plug-ins for enhancing the readability of your blog. Plug-ins like these are important because they help you better handle hyphens, spacing, character formatting, text enhancements, quotes and much more. By using just a plug-in or two, you can breath life into an otherwise dull layout and keep readers longer. So, let’s look at how to make your blog come to life with enhancement plug-ins.

1. Drop Caps

Drop Caps increases the readability of your posts through the addition of a stylish drop cap at the beginning of every first paragraph. You can also add drop caps to comments and excerpts. The plug-in comes with a default style sheet, but you can change the CSS as needed. Drop Caps WordPress plug-in While you can set the plug-in to automatically insert drop caps at specified locations, you can also manually add them anywhere using the Drop Cap Shortcode plug-in. And if you need support for foreign language characters, wp-dropcaps has you covered.

2. WP Typography

Known as a one-stop shop for improved web typography, WP Typography adds some very useful features to your blog. It helps with hyphenation, spacing, character replacement and styling (via CSS hooks). And it supports over 40 languages. The spacing control is great because it forces internal wrapping of long URLs and email addresses. The character-replacement feature formats things like quotation marks, dashes, and trademark and copyright symbols. And the CSS hooks are great for styling marks such as the ampersand, double quotes, acronyms and more.

3. Simple Pull Quote

If you ever wanted a way to set off and emphasize quotes in your posts, then Simple Pull Quote is for you. It adds a “Pullquote” button to your HTML and TinyMCE editor, allowing you to emphasize any text you choose, putting it in its own block to the side of your content, like so: Simple Pull Quote WordPress plug-in While the plug-in comes with default styling, you can override it with CSS. Because many themes do not come with a style for pull quotes, this is a great way to accentuate them.

4. TextImage

TextImage replaces the full content of your posts with PNG images. If you’re wondering why someone would want to do this, it’s simple: to hide the content from robots and spiders. Converting text to an image makes it unreadable and, therefore, unable to be indexed by search engines. You can style the image’s background, font and size as needed. Because it is an image, you cannot apply formatting such as bold, italics or underlining (unless it was in the original post). Also, the plug-in strips out all HTML tags from your post.

5. CodeColorer

If you use a lot of code snippets in your posts (PHP, HTML, Ruby, JavaScript, etc.), CodeColorer will definitely come in handy. It allows you to add code snippets to posts and comments alike. Customize the look of the snippets with CSS to make them stand out. CodeColorer WordPress plug-in The plug-in supports over 20 languages and offers numerous features such as syntax highlighting in RSS feeds, syntax highlighting for single lines of code, line numbering, intelligent scroll detection, and pre-made themes. To add a snippet to a post, simply use the integrated shortcode.

6. Censortive

Freedom of speech on the web is often blocked by Big Brother technologies that sniff out “sensitive” words. If you want to take control of your freedom of speech, Censortive can help. This is an anti-censorship plug-in that simply replaces “sensitive” words with a graphic equivalent, making them invisible to censorship robots. The plug-in changes words into image files that blend right in with your theme and text.

7. WP Footnotes

WP Footnotes lets you create and manage footnotes and sidenotes as if your blog post was a Microsoft Word document. Once the plug-in is installed, simply type in whatever text you want for the footnote in double parentheses, and WP Footnotes does the rest. WP Footnotes WordPress plug-in A nice touch is the ability to repeat footnotes; to refer to a previous one, simply insert the text that you used earlier. Pretty neat, huh?

8. Post Typographer

Post Typographer is kind of like WP Typography: a one-stop shop for post typography. When you publish or update a post, it is automatically formatted according to the rules you set for the plug-in. These rules include: adding non-breaking spaces where needed, converting hyphens to em and en dashes as needed, removing extra spaces, wrapping content in tags where needed, and preserving the contents of pre tags.

9. Text Control

Text Control gives you total control of text-related formatting on your blog. You can enable options individually for each post or globally for all posts and comments. When you first install the plug-in, WordPress’ default settings remain intact, and then you can choose from an assortment of syntaxes and encoding options. Text Control WordPress plug-in Text Control is pretty advanced and has a lot of features. Formatting options include Markdown, Textile 1, Textile 2, nl2br, WPautop and “No Formatting.” Character encoding options include SmartyPants, WPTexturize and “No Encoding.”

10. WP Super Edit

Finally, WP Super Edit. This adds functionality to WordPress’ WYSIWYG editor. You can add buttons to the toolbar, add custom TinyMCE plug-ins, and arrange the buttons with a drag-and-drop interface (up to four rows). And if there are some buttons you never use, you can easily remove them. You can also add features such as tables, layers, advanced image and link properties, emoticons, search-and-replace functionality and more. There are even role-based editor settings and individual user settings, so each user can have an interface tailored to their needs. How have you enhanced the readability of your blog? Which typography-related WordPress plug-ins are your favorites? Do you use any of the ones mentioned here? If so, feel free to share your experience in the comments.

Lior Levin

Lior Levin is a consultant to a shopping cart abandonment startup from Israel. Lior also works for billguard who developed a Passbook application to follow credit card charges.

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