How do I use HTML to format comments on this site (& others)?

Different themes handle commenting differently, but many themes allow users to create links and other formatting while leaving comments, but only if they know how to do so manually with HTML code. There’s often no visual editor that lets you use HTML at the push of a button, the way there is when you’re in the dashboard composing posts and pages.

When you’re leaving a comment on a post on this site, there’s a line at the bottom that lists the most frequent types of HTML and formatting that you might want to use:

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=”” title=””> <abbr title=””> <acronym title=””> <blockquote cite=””> <cite> <code> <del datetime=””> <em> <i> <q cite=””> <strike> <strong>

For each of those codes, you just surround some text with the applicable HTML tags (i.e., you have an opening tag <em> (which adds emphasis), then the text you want to be emphasized, then you close the tag so that the browser knows when to stop emphasizing </em>).

Code Examples

Here are examples of how each of those codes work:

<a href=””>course homepage</a>

<abbr title=”Hypertext Markup Language”>HTML</abbr>

<acronym title=”EWP”>Emory Writing Program</acronym>

<blockquote cite=”<cite><a href=” “> </cite> “>If people never did silly things nothing intelligent would ever get done.
Ludwig Wittgenstein<blockquote>

<cite><a href=””></cite>

<code><a href=” “>course homepage</a></code>

<del datetime=”YYYY-MM-DDThh:mm:ssTZD”>This text has been deleted from the comment and there’s a time stamp to indicate when, which is not visible but is available to screen readers.</del>



<q cite=” “>The q cite tag allows you to provide a citation that does not show up visibly, but is available to screen readers behind the scene.</q>

<strike>This text has been struck through</strike>

<strong>Guiness for strength!</strong>


And here’s how each of those different effects will look on this site when the comment is published:

course homepage


Emory Writing Program

If people never did silly things nothing intelligent would ever get done.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

<a href=" "> </a>

This text has been deleted from the comment and there’s a time stamp to indicate when, which is not visible but is available to screen readers.



The q cite tag allows you to provide a citation that does not show up visibly, but is available to screen readers behind the scene.

This text has been struck through

Guiness for strength!

WordPress Basics: Comments

As you are uploading your avatars to your subdomains, I am going to be leaving comments on each of them. You should get an email notification saying that my comment is awaiting moderation . Under the default settings, the first time any person comments, that comment goes into a moderation holding queue and won’t show up on your site until you approve it but once you’ve approved the first comment from someone, your site will thereafter assume that future comments from that person are acceptable and they will be published immediately (you can adjust settings and notification rules, see below). You can get to the Comments area of the dashboard either by clicking on the comment bubble in the toolbar at the top or by clicking in Comments in the sidebar.

Please do comment on the course site and on your classmates’ sites, and please go in and approve comments from your peers and myself.

Here’s the WordPress codex help page on the Comments screen.

Comment Settings

You can adjust the settings for how your site handles comments by going to Settings > Discussion. Here’s the WordPress codex help page on the Discussion Settings page.

Please do make certain that you check the first two boxes in Discussion Settings to turn on “Attempt to notify any blogs linked to from the article” and to “Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks) on new articles.” Otherwise, you can adjust the settings as you please, but I do think it’s a good idea to leave the default setting for “Before a comment appears … Comment author must have a previously approved comment.”

Managing Comment Spam

If you don’t do anything to manage spam comments, your site will quickly fill up with random spam comments from bots trying to insert links for their spam sites. See the next tab under the Building a Homestead assignment, Building Specialized Towers and Wings, where the first step is to activate the plugin Akismet that came pre-installed on your site. Akismet will block pretty much any spam comments without you ever even having to see them.

How to Turn Comments Off or On for Specific Posts or Pages

You can change site-wide comments settings at Settings > Discussions, but if you just want to turn comments off for a specific item or items, you can do that too. (My rule of thumb for most sites I manage is that I turn off commenting for pages but leave comments enabled for posts. You might consider whether that makes sense for you or not as well.)

If you open the post or page editor, at the top of the screen is a tab for Screen Options.


Screen Options allows you to configure your dashboard. Check the box to turn on Discussion and from now on, whenever you are in your post of page editor, there will be a box underneath the editor screen that allows you to turn comments and pingbacks on or off for that specific post/page.



WordPress Basics: How to Add a Post or Page

As you begin to use WordPress, the diagram showing the parts of the dashboard on this page might be helpful for you.

Don’t be afraid to ask me if you have any questions about this stuff, but you can figure out a lot on your own by playing around on your site or by reading over help pages.

Adding Pages and Posts

Once you’ve got your sites created, how do you publish content onto them? Here’s a quick help page on adding posts and pages. This help page goes over the distinction between posts and pages — the biggest thing for you to understand for the purposes of this class is that posts syndicate but pages do not. You’ll publish major assignments as pages on your site. You’ll publish reflection writing and lower-stakes writing as posts, and every post you publish will syndicate onto the Student Work category page.

When you publish a major assignment, because it’s a page, it won’t show up on Student Work. Every major assignment you publish will be accompanied by reflective writing, which you will publish as a post, and in that post you will link to the intro page for your major assignment piece. I consider your major assignment “turned in” when you publish that post and it shows up in the course feed.

(This will all probably seem a little confusing to you when you read about it in the abstract, but trust me that once you start doing it, you will make sense of it pretty quickly. If you get confused by the process early on, don’t panic!)

Working with Other Media

You can add images (or audio, video, PDFs, and other files) into a post or page by clicking on the Add Media button just above the post editor, to the left.

This help page goes over some of the basics of uploading or embedding media.

The WordPress codex page on the Media menus is more detailed and very helpful if you’re running into issues.

Further WordPress Orientation

The WordPress codex has a more detailed page for “First Steps with WordPress,” with lots of information and links to specific individual help pages for many other issues. The information outlined above covers probably 95% of what you’ll need to be able to do for this class, but if you’ve got other questions or you want to explore further, that page is probably a good place for you to start.

WordPress Basics: Getting into your Dashboard

Once you’ve got a domain and a subdomain setup, remember that those are two separate websites — two separate installations, with two separate dashboards to manage what goes on the site.

Methods to get to your dashboard

You can get to your dashboard by going to the URL and adding “/wp-admin/” onto the end of the URL in the address bar (so, []/wp-admin or []/wp-admin/) and then logging in with the username and password you established when you installed WordPress.

Even better, if you followed all the steps in Adding a Main Hall and added the Meta widget to your site, then you’ll have a link on your homepage wherever you placed that widget that will take you directly to the login page. (If you scroll all the way to the bottom of this course site, you’ll see in the footer that I’ve added a link in my footer menu called “Site admin,” which is what I use to get to my dashboard instead of adding the entire Meta widget.)

What if I forgot my password or username?

If you ever forget your password (or if you forgot to specify a username in Installatron when you set your site up), you can always get into the dashboard of your site through a roundabout method:

  • To to and log in with your Emory NetID and password to get to your cPanel.
  • In the area for Web Applications, find the icons for My Applications and click on the site you need to get into.
  • Click on the address that shows your site with the /wp-admin/ added on to the end and cPanel will automatically bring you to your site’s dashboard, bypassing the login screen.
  • Once you are in your dashboard, you can reset your password by going to Users > Your Profile

Welcome to Read | Write | Play

Your homework to complete before we meet again on Tuesday:

  • Read over this website very carefully as it constitutes the syllabus for this course. Note that the Syllabus page includes a number of subpages, covering such topics as: how to contact me and course objectives; the texts you need to buy; attendance, participation, and other policies; how you will be graded; and how Domain of One’s Own will impact your experience in this class. There is also a calendar of reading and assignments; and pages describing the major and minor assignments this semester.
  • Add this site to your bookmarks. Make certain that you can find your way back here, because you’ll be spending a lot of time visiting these pages over the course of this semester.
  • Reply to this survey form, which both asks some basic information I’ll need in order to manage communications with you and also asks some questions that will help me get to know you a little bit better.

Once you’ve completed those tasks, begin to establish your home base for this class:

  • Sign up for a domain of your own. (See this post first for a note about choosing a domain name.)
  • Install WordPress on your domain. Give your site a title that is not “My blog.”
  • Configure the settings on your site, making the front page static instead of a posts page.
  • Come back to this post once you have signed up for your domain and leave a comment. Enter your name and email and the new domain address in the “website” line when on the comment. In the body of the comment, ask one question about the syllabus.

On Choosing a Domain Name

You are not purchasing a web site! You are registering a domain name and server space, upon which you can build many other web sites, amongst other things. Therefore, you need a domain name that will continue to work for you after this semester is finished, maybe even after you have graduated from Emory.

The preference is for your domain to be some version of your name (i.e., or or but if you have a very common name you might have to be a little creative.

It is also perfectly acceptable for your domain name to be a short word or phrase that is easy to remember and spell, and which speaks to some interest of yours or an aspect of your character (i.e., my friend Audrey Watters publishes a site called; Kin Lane spends his careers working with APIs and his domain is; or Tanine Allison, a professor of Media Studies here at Emory who is finishing her first book entitled Destructive Sublime: World War II in American Media, uses as her domain name; or one of my favorite art and design blogs, which is called If you’re going to choose a title or phrase as your domain name, make sure you think about it very carefully so you don’t show up on one of those lists of the most unfortunate domain names ever, like the design firm called Speed of Art that ended up with a domain name that sounds like it’s about flatulence in a swimsuit.

Do not include the word “emory” in your domain name. The university brand management office is quite emphatic about trying to keep domains including “emory” only for official university sites.

Do not include my class name or something specific about a course, or even your major, in your domain name. You will add subdomains or pages of your sites that are specific to classes, but your primary domain name should be something that can grow with you.