Post Formats

Seven! That the number of Posts Formats supported by Twenty Seventeen – out of the nine available (other than Standard) – as well as the number of atypical posts that should have preceded this one (in reality, there are ten, but let’s not split hairs). Of course, this is not a coincidence because I was experimenting with the various formats. As explained in the first post of this mini-series, I suffered some adversities recently and I would not have been able to keep up with the demand of my weekly posting schedule without this stratagem. Was this mini-series completely fruitless? I don’t think so – Twenty Seventeen Post Formats: time for assessment.

Post formats were last featured in WordPress’ Twenty Seventeen and are no longer supported in the more recent WP themes.Kirstan Normal

What are Post Formats?

According to WordPress, a Post Format is a piece of meta information that can be used by a theme to customize its presentation of a post1. In other words, it’s a special formatting used to distinguish various types of blog posts. This is supposed to allow you, the blogger, to change how each post looks like in a click (by selecting a Post Format in the Post Format drop-down list, to be accurate). Now, don’t give yourself any false idea, the pre-styled formats are up to the theme developer and apparently they generally don’t put much time or effort into this aspect of their design2 (see below). Equally important, this feature will mainly affect how the posts are displayed on the blog page (i.e. Homepage if you have opted for Your latest post in the Reading Settings or Homepage Settings in the Settings or Customizer, respectively).

Note that while the actual post content entry won’t change, the theme can use this user choice to display the post differently based on the format chosen.WordPress

As you may have already guessed from my introduction, themes are not required to support every format on the list1. Accordingly, changing theme might result in formatting problems (if the new theme doesn’t support the same Post Formats as your previous one). Last, themes cannot introduce new formats; there is a standardized list of nine formats.

When writing or editing a Post, Standard is used to designate that no Post Format is specified. Also if a format is specified that is invalid then standard (no format) will be used.

Twenty Seventeen own styling

For the most part, a WordPress post format results in surprisingly little change to the appearance of a given post. In fact, the majority of themes no longer bother with post formats. This means even if you choose something other than the default option, your post might look exactly the same as it would have otherwise.John Hughes

In keeping with John Hughes claims, the themes that do still use post formats still tend to keep things simple2. Clearly, this is the case with Twenty Seventeen! If the stylistic differences (compared to the default Standard format) were defined only in the style.css file, here is what you could expect:

.blog .format-status .entry-title,
.archive .format-status .entry-title,
.blog .format-aside .entry-title,
.archive .format-aside .entry-title {
	display: none;

.format-quote blockquote {
	color: #333;
	font-size: 20px;
	font-size: 1.25rem;
	font-weight: 300;
	overflow: visible;
	position: relative;

.format-quote blockquote .icon {
	display: block;
	height: 20px;
	left: -1.25em;
	position: absolute;
	top: 0.4em;
	-webkit-transform: scale(-1, 1);
	-ms-transform: scale(-1, 1);
	transform: scale(-1, 1);
	width: 20px;

.format-quote blockquote .icon {
	left: -1.5em;

Not much indeed. The Aside Post Format is “styled” without a title, as is Status. The only effort concerns the Quote Post Format: it comes with a quote icon! Now, besides these limited CSS changes, there are also Post Format-specific templates for the content, which are called with:

get_template_part( 'template-parts/post/content', get_post_format() );

Again, the available specific templates are limited to:

  • Audio
  • Gallery
  • Image
  • Video

Without going into details, they designate what content to display. For example, in the case of the Image Post Format template, the only difference (compared to the content.php file) is a line of code, which purpose is to only show content if is a single post, or if there’s no featured image. If you want to learn more, you can play ‘Spot the Difference’ by comparing the files content-audio.php, content-gallery.php, content-image.php and content-video.php with content.php. You can find them in the template-parts\post directory.

Time for assessment

Again, I am referring to Twenty Seventeen Post Formats. Accordingly, I will not describe the Status nor Chat Post Formats (see above). In addition, I will skip the Standard Post Format (the one I have been using for my first 100 posts actually). Note, however, that you can check how the latter, as well as the other seven supported formats (or at least an example of each), looks on the page for Twenty Seventeen.

Importantly, I have specifically configured my blog in order to 1) show only one post in the Homepage and 2) display the excerpt of each post (instead of the full post) in the Archive pages. Both adjustments (that I will cover in future posts) have significant repercussions for the interest and use of the Post Formats feature! In particular, one of the reason for using Post Formats is to have a colorful blog page (i.e. Homepage) with images, videos and other media pulled from the actual posts (instead of a dull and boring catalogue of posts’ titles and excerpts).


A very short post that shares a random thought or idea.

Basically, this format is intended for short posts, or more accurately for brief snippets of text that aren’t quite whole blog posts, and is typically styled without a title1. At first, I liked the idea – for example, to share a quick thought. However, the absence of title is clearly a drawback. As specified in the stylesheet of Twenty Seventeen, this theme will not display the title (of these Aside posts) neither in the Homepage nor in the Archive pages (e.g. Category or Tag archives). However, it is important to understand that the title also serves as a link to the actual post (i.e. the single Post page). Consequently, there is no (easy) way to access the Aside post (from the Homepage or an Archive page).

Imagine for example that, while browsing a specific Category archive (e.g. News, at random), you see an excerpt that excites your interest. You decide to read the full post, but here is the catch: you cannot simply click on its title for that purpose, because there is no title! And, in keeping with my own configuration, there is no “Continue Reading” link either. Therefore, you have to click the post above (or below) it – hoping the latter is chronologically after (or before) the one you want to reach – and use the navigation links (PREVIOUS or NEXT) at the end of that post to open the post you actually want to read.

Apart from this peculiarity (not displaying the title), the Aside post will be styled exactly as a Standard post. Given my configuration (i.e. no ‘real’ blog posts page and excerpt without the “Continue Reading” link), I don’t see the point of using this Post Format again, quite the contrary!


A post that displays a quotation on your site.

This one, as suggested by its name, can be used for quotations. It will have a similar appearance to Standard posts, except that it displays a quote icon! Nevertheless, that styling effort looks like a half-hearted attempt to me. Which style do you prefer? The Quote Post Format one (illustrated here) or the one I styled myself (and used throughout this post)?


A post that shares a single image.

According to the page for Twenty Seventeen (mentioned earlier), this Post Format should display the post’s Featured Image. Given my reluctance of using the Feature Image – the biggest issue I have with Twenty Seventeen theme as explained at the end of the so-called post – I was feeling a little concern with this format. Happily, if no Featured Image is added, the blog posts page will display the post’s full content instead. But you already knew this, right?5


A post that displays a video, usually embedded within a video player (such as YouTube) so that your readers can play the video without leaving your site.

Surprisingly, there is a slight difference between how this format will appear on the Homepage (i.e. blog posts page) versus the single Post page. On the latter, the caption is present (as you can see here), but this is not the case on the former. Now, this Post Format should display the first embedded video on the Homepage, but also highlight the video file (see template file). In practice, this translates to only showing the video (i.e. its URL) and nothing else (not even the caption). See below for a potential explanation.


A post that shares audio files or podcasts.

Like the Video Post Format, the Audio one will display – on the Homepage (i.e. blog posts page) – the first embedded audio player, and highlight the audio file. Again, the caption is only present on the single Post page, as illustrated here. After inspecting the template files of these two Post Formats (i.e. Audio and Video), I could notice indeed the same lines of code instructing the page to echo (i.e. output) $audio_html (or $video_html in the former case), both being retrieved with the get_media_embedded_in_content() function (see below).


A gallery of clickable images, in which clicking an image opens a larger version of the photo.

In keeping with the ‘Spot the Difference’ game, you may have noticed that the Gallery template has also a piece of code to highlight the gallery. However, unlike the two aforementioned formats, the Gallery Post Format displays the caption on the Homepage. I believe the reason is to be found in the get_post_gallery() function, used by the Gallery template to return the first gallery, if present. Specifically, in this case, the <figcaption> tag is within the global <figure> tag, which contains the gallery, and is therefore incorporated (and echoed). On the other hand, the get_media_embedded_in_content() – in the case of the Video and Audio Post Formats – will only check the content HTML within the <video> and <audio> tags, respectively. Unfortunately, the <figcaption> tag is outside these tags and therefore the caption is NOT echoed. Savvy?


A post that provides a link you find useful and want to share with your readers.

Again, this Post Format has the same appearance to Standard posts (as illustrated with my first experimentation). Given my readings, WordPress own Post Formats article1 in particular, I was expecting something else. Indeed, like komonodesign, I thought that WordPress would show the first URL in the Homepage (pulled from the content like the above examples): Themes may wish to use the first <a href=“”> tag in the post content as the external link for that post1. It does not.

An alternative approach could be if the post consists only of a URL, then that will be the URL and the title (post_title) will be the name attached to the anchor for it.

Given WordPress other suggestion (above), I have also tried just an URL (second experimentation). Not that easy in fact, because Gutenberg automatically embeds any URL you enter; the trick was to insert the link into a <p> tag. Anyway, I was also curious to test the actual Gutenberg embedded link; hence my third experimentation.


Clearly, my trialing was far from conclusive. Now, it is worth reiterating that my configuration – only one post on the Homepage, in particular – is not well suited for Post Formats. In addition, I didn’t know much about this feature (before to write this post) and I felt short of unlocking its full potential. That being said, I don’t really see the point of using them nowadays, especially with Gutenberg. They were probably a big deal back in 2011, when WordPress 3.1 was released (with this feature), but I would agree with John Hughes: it’s a largely obsolete feature at this point2.

With many major themes not supporting them, and the introduction of Gutenberg, it doesn’t look good for the future of this throwback feature.Kirstan Normal

Given the limited styling offered by Twenty Seventeen Post Formats (e.g. Quote) and the negatives of some formats (e.g. no title for Aside), I would rather stick to the default Standard format, which can actually be any of the other Post Formats as well. Granted, I could adjust both their stylesheets and Post Format templates according to my preferences; yet, with my current configuration, the all interest of Post Formats – to have a blog page full of color and personality6 – is actually ruined. To sum up, I will keep using the Standard Post Format most of the time (with rare exception that I don’t have in mind yet).

Ultimately, in the vast majority of circumstances, there’s little point in changing your WordPress post format to anything other than Standard.John Hughes

1 See Post Formats. ^
2 John Hughes (2019) What are WordPress Post Formats and why they don’t matter. Themeisle. ^
3 It is possible to add them, but I could not care less! ^
4 Lisa Sabin-Wilson (2017) WordPress All-in-One For Dummies – Third Edition. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. ^
5 Indeed, as explained earlier, the content-image.php template has a line of code, which purpose is to only show content if is a single post, or if there’s no featured image. ^
6 Kirstan Normal (2020) WordPress Post Formats… Is there life after Gutenberg. wpmudev. ^

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