As genealogists, we often share our journey on a particular family discovery through a series of posts over a period of time. These posts appear on our blogs in reverse chronological order making it difficult for a new reader to find the first post in the series and follow our progression through the research problem. We can group the posts with tags or categories, but still, on the tag or category archive page the posts still appear with the newest one first and the oldest one last, forcing our readers to scroll to the end to begin at the beginning.
This was the challenge I had with my ‘Brickwall Browns’ series which I began almost a year ago and go back to whenever inspiration strikes. I played around with various methods to link the posts together. I tried creating a page with a series of links. I tried linking each post with a prior and next link. Nothing really worked the way I wanted it to. Then I discovered the Organize Series plugin written by Darren Ethier that is available as a free download in the WordPress Plugin Repository. Suddenly, I was able to do exactly what I wanted to do. The plugin does this by creating a new post taxonomy – (standard post taxonomies in WordPress are posts and pages).
How to Setup a Series
Install the plugin from your WordPress dashboard (Plugins -> Add New) and activate it. Next, in your Posts sub-menu, you will find a new option to ‘Manage Series’.
Create a Series
Add your series in the same way that you would create a new category.
Add Posts to the Series
Next, go to your all posts listing page and filter your list to find all the posts that are part of a series. In my case, all of my Brickwall Brown posts were tagged with a category of the same name. There is no need to do a full edit of the post. The series option is available in the quick edit option. Simply select the new series you just created and enter a number relative to the sequence of the post in the ‘Part’ field. If you do not enter a number, the plug assumes that this will be the ‘next’ post in the series. Also, if you suddenly realise that you missed a post in the middle, no need to panic. Just assign it the appropriate number and all the parts after that will automatically adjust themselves. Great feature this!
Link to the Series Page
Finding the link to the series page was not intuitive. I finally found it in my Yoast SEO settings for the Snippet preview. The URL will be: http://yourwebsite.com/series/series-name. You can add this URL to a menu or a widget.
Settings for Series
You will find the settings for the Series plugin in your settings menu under Series Options. The options include:
- Display the series post list box. This is automatically selected but you can choose not to display it.
- Display the series navigation links. This is also automatically selected but you can unselect it here.
- Display series meta information with posts. Again, this is automatically selected.
- Use custom CSS. This is selected by default and there are three choices: default, light, dark. I’ve chosen light.
- Series Table of contents. Automatically selected, this applies if you have Permalinks enabled.
- Series custom base. This allows you to change the name from Series to something else.
- Series Table of Contents Title. Enter what you want for the title and choose a sort order. By default this is by date, descending.
The settings page also gives options for customizing the CSS for the series to change the format of the various displays. I will probably revisit this and add some customization since. although the ‘light’ option is not horrible, it also doesn’t fit really well with the rest of my theme.
From the options page, you can also enter an API key to enable some of the paid options for this plugin. These can be found on the author’s webpage and include:
- Organize Series Grouping. Organize Series Grouping gives the ability to put series together in groups! $10
- Organize Series Extra Tokens. The Organize Series Extra Tokens add on enables extra %tokens% for use on the Series Options page in customizing various series templates. Extra tokens included to insert series slug, series id, post author, post thumbnail, or post date.
- Organize Series All in One SEO. This add-on integrates with the popular All In One SEO pack by Michael Torbert.
- Organize Series Multiples. This powerful add-on for Organize Series brings the capability of adding a post to more than one series.
- Organize Series Shortcodes. Organize Series Shortcodes provides a set of WordPress “shortcodes” that provide users a way to easily insert various series information into their posts (or pages!)
- Organize Series Custom Post Type Support. One of the most requested features for Organize Series is the ability to use the power of series with WordPress custom post types. This new addon (along with Organize Series 2.4.2+) gives the ability to do just that. With this add-on, not only can you use custom post types with Organize Series but you can now also use series on WordPress pages!
Currently, I’m not seeing an immediate use for any of the paid options but that may change as I use the free version more. But for now I’m just happy to have finally found a solution to my series of posts challenge.
Finally, I can display a series of posts together in chronological order so I can take my readers through my progress from beginning to end. The Organize Series plugin is a little difficult to figure out at first but is absolutely brilliant once you get it set up! The default CSS options are ok, but to totally rock this one out of the park, you are going to want to create some custom CSS.
- Easy to setup
- Great functionality
- Limited formatting options