Customizing excerpts and adding a "read more" button into blog posts

Excerpts and "Read More" tags are an essential feature of WordPress. In many themes, they control the small summary snippets that readers see in blog feeds (whether the Home Page or archival pages). In others, they provide a way to create a natural break in the storytelling to entice readers to click through and continue reading your post. Finally, in some instances, they may impact what readers see via feed readers.

There are a few different ways to control excerpts and post jumps in WordPress.


In many themes, Read More tags will give you control over where the content breaks. Use a Read More tag if your theme allows you control over excerpts via the post editor, and your writing style lends itself well to a natural, suspenseful buildup that would warrant manual insert of the tag.

To insert a  Read More tag within a post, simply click on the Insert Read More button in your post editor menu options. 


In the Classic Editor, it looks like this:

A dotted line will appear in your post, indicating where the break in content will occur on your live site. You can delete this line as you would any other text, should you wish to move it (or, copy and paste it elsewhere in your post should you wish to move it).


In the Block Editor, it looks like this:

You may add in a Read More tag by adding a new block, and searching with the keyword More. Insert the More block, and you're all set!


Some themes —including all EmPress themes!—include settings for automatic excerpts in the theme Customizer. With these settings, on the Home page and Archival pages, your readers will see a “Read More” button after a set number of words, as determined by the  Automatic excerpt setting. 


In the Barton, Hayes & Pearl themes, the automatic excerpt word count cut off may be set by going to Appearance > Customize > Post & Page Display. Then, simply click on each post layout type, and set your preferred excerpt length. Here's an example of this:


In these themes, this setting is controlled by going to  Appearance > Customize > Blog Feed. If available on your theme, the automatic excerpt button will look similar to this:

For more on excerpts in these themes, click here.


WordPress includes a feature in the post editor which allows you to add a custom excerpt. It looks like this:

Block Editor:

Classic Editor:

While it appears to be handy, any excerpts entered into these boxes will unfortunately ONLY show on search and archival pages where excerpts are visible. This is a default WordPress setting, and not a setting controlled by EmPress themes. There are a few ways around this though:

  • If you feel comfortable editing your site PHP, you can adjust it so that your summary excerpts pull from this custom box everywhere. However, please only attempt this if you know how to write PHP code! PHP forms the skeleton of your site, and if you break it, it can bring down your whole site. 
    • If you have staging available via your host company, we would strongly recommend playing around with it there first. 
    • A tutorial on where to edit this setting in PHP can be found here. NOTE: We cannot offer support for implementing this change.
  • There are plugins which allow you to override the excerpt, like this one. Please note EmPress Themes has not tested this specific plugin with our themes, and cannot offer support for it.
  • Finally, it is possible to build a completely separate box/field in your post editor which provides full control over excerpts. If this is of interest, please hire a third party developer for custom implementation into your WordPress theme.