Quick Tip: Write Blog Posts Faster with Formatting Shortcuts

WordPress 4.3 was recently released, and if you haven't upgraded yet you should. It has a great new feature for writers, helping you write blog posts faster while spending less time formatting your content.

When we talked about using Scrivener for blogging, I shared a free Markdown cheat sheet with you. Markdown lets you use simple formatting shortcuts as you type so you don't have to go keyboard-to-mouse every time you want to format a heading, list item, or blockquote.

MultiMarkdown cheat sheet preview
Markdown examples when using Scrivener

Now WordPress lets you use some of these same shortcuts while writing posts in the visual editor.

WordPress Formatting Shortcuts

* or - will create an unordered (bulleted) list

1. or 1) will start an ordered (numbered) list

## converts to H2 heading tags (### for H3, etc. up to H6)

> before a line will start a blockquote

You can also use the same old shortcuts to format bold and italic text (ctrl-B and ctrl-I respectively).

Writing in WordPress

"Wait a second," I can hear some of you thinking. "Didn't you say it's a bad idea to write in WordPress itself? So how is this going to help me?"

You're right. Writing directly in WordPress is still a bad idea. But if you're one of the many bloggers who chooses to do that, this should speed up your post formatting.

This change is potentially good for writers using third party programs as well. You can use these formatting shortcuts and then copy / paste into WordPress for them to take effect.

I do have to warn you though. This isn't perfect. The changes seem to happen in real-time as you type. So if you copy / paste from another program, the changes don't seem to happen automatically.

For example, after using ## for an H2 heading, you'll need to hit "enter" in WordPress to make it take effect after pasting your post content into the platform. With lists, I had to hit the space bar after the number or bullet to make them take effect. I'm hoping this is something the WordPress team can address in a future update.

So, yeah. It's not a perfect solution. And I wouldn't necessarily recommend it if you already have a great system in place like Scrivener's compile-to-HTML option (and if you don't use Scrivener for blogging yet, here's a free Scrivener blogging template you can use). But if you tend to write in WordPress or do all of your formatting in WordPress after posts are written, and if you prefer not to work in HTML mode, this new feature could save you a fair amount of time.

How do you format blog posts? Will formatting shortcuts like these help you write and format posts a little bit faster? Have you played with the new feature yet? If so, what do you think of it? Share your thoughts in the blog comments below.

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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, consultant, and indie author. She runs numerous websites & blogs including All Freelance Writing, Freelance Writing Pros, NakedPR, and Kiss My Biz.

Jenn has 25 years' experience as a professional writer and editor and over 20 years' experience in marketing and PR (working heavily in digital PR, online marketing, social media, SEO, new media, and thought leadership publication). She also has 19 years' professional blogging and web publishing experience (including web development) and around 18 years of experience as an indie author / publisher.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names and is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.

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