El Jefe from El Bloggo Torcido (one of my favorite small business blogs...a winery), left a comment this morning on how difficult Typepad is to format photos in a blog post.
I wanted to address this issue in a post of its own, because it's so important. Specifically, El Jefe expressed frustration with a particular post he wrote on February 18 that contains several photos (warning: this post contains some, ah, adultish material). The problem was getting the text to wrap correctly around the photos was a pain in the butt.
Do you remember when the first line of a paragraph used to be indented? If you pull a book off your book shelf and read it, you will see that the first line of paragraphs is always indented to give the reader a visual reference to begin a new paragraph.
But something happened on the way to the web. It turns out that creating code to express that first-paragraph-indent on a webpage is very difficult. So over the years, a new convention appeared, which is simply to have a line space between paragraphs when you are reading something on the web.
Now you might be asking what all this has to do with photos? It's the same problem...displaying photos and how text wraps around photos is straightforward in print, but exceedingly difficult on the web. The web, and particularly blogs, have come up with its own rules as a result.
For this reason, I recommend not getting too frustrated over formatting, and keep to a few simple conventions. After all, people are not reading your blog because it looks cool. They are reading it because the writing, and the photos, are cool (at least to them). I don't know a single person who returned to a slick-looking blog because they liked the graphics!
One or two small photos
Feel free to wrap text to the left or right of photos if there are only one or two photos in your post, and there is enough room so that your text doesn't look scrunched. I like to leave at least a 200 pixel wide space for text if I'm going to have text next to a photo.
A large photo or multiple photos
When a photo is large enough to take up most the width of your blog post, then turn off the "wrap text" option in Typepad so that text automatically goes beneath the photo instead of next to it. (Technically, the text begins next to the photo at the very bottom, but hitting 'enter' once drops it below the photo.)
When using multiple photos to tell a story (a very effective type of post on a blog), don't try to wrap text. It's a pain, and you spend a lot of time trying to get the photo size just right so that the text next to it applies just to that photo (I believe this was the source of El Jefe's frustration).
Instead, introduce the photo with a paragraph, then add the photo beneath the introductory paragraph. Turn the 'text wrap' feature off, and write the next paragraph to introduce the next photo. Repeat.
This is a linear approach, no fancy formatting, but it's very effective and easy for a reader to understand. More importantly, it's easy for the blog writer to do and contains zero frustration.
If you are using "text wrap", save your captions for the end of your post. If you have turned "text wrap" off, you can add photo captions directly beneath each photo.
I've probably opened a can of worms here, so if you have a particular post that you have a question on, let me know in the comments and I'll take a look.
Remember, the main goal is to keep your blog posts simple, and stress-free. If writing posts is painful, you will never enjoy blogging enough to have a successful one.
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