Why does my post look funky?

All of a sudden, you see your post and the previous posts all are in a different font, or your sidebar doesn’t appear in the right place. Did you just break WordPress? Probably not.

What you most likely did was put code in your post that WordPress either doesn’t recognize or doesn’t like.  That’s because WordPress likes you to do the writing, and leave the formatting up to it. Here is some info on Validation from the WordPress Codex:

Validating a Website « WordPress Codex
Validation errors aren’t limited to your template files. They can also happen inside of a post. When you are writing a post and using HTML, WordPress might not recognize the HTML and convert it to a character entity, or you may have entered it wrong. If you have a page with a lot of HTML coding, validate it to make sure you have it all correct. And occasionally check random posts to make sure everything is still okay from time to time as part of your general housekeeping.

So, if you are trying to write about php code- WordPress will strip it out- thinking you are trying to run code where you shouldn’t. People who write about code, use a plugin to make code quotable.

The main problem is copying and pasting either from other sites, or from Microsoft Word. These pastes can contain all kinds of tags and formating that WordPress has no use for, or doesn’t understand, or conflicts with the Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) built into your theme.

If you look to the right of your ? (help) icon in the toolbar- you will see the “Advanced Toolbar” button that will give you access to a whole bunch of formatting (and unformatting options). It’s here where you can underline text, add colors, use different heading tags- or remove formatting or clean up messy code.

So, if you see something looking wonky on your wordpress site, try the eraser tool- and remove formatting, before the panic, and try reformatting using only the tools that WordPress offers. If you are still finding errors- look in code view- and see if there are more than a few things that say MsoNormal, or Table or div or span in your code. Most of those are indicative of formatting problems.

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Tips on doing a Fantastico upgrade on WordPress 2.3.1

Today we got the notification that netenberg had released the Fantastico updates for WordPress 2.3.1 after having 2.2.2 for the longest time. We’ve recently started using Fantastico to set up our initial installs of WordPress, but had done upgrades manually. Today, we tried the auto update feature for the first time- and have this warning: MAKE SURE TO DEACTIVATE ALL PLUGINS BEFORE RUNNING UPDATE. We’re not totally sure this guarantees an un-borked update, but, we’re pretty sure it helped after we reinstalled.

Fantastico is a script that runs from Cpanel on our server to help you automagically install a whole bunch of different Open Source software. It’s really handy, but, be prepared to be at least 30 days behind on most update packages (37 in this case).

Our main reason to switch to 2.3.1 was to familiarize ourselves with the new version of WordPress before the next seminar, but, I’ll give you the immediate highlights:

  • ST Visualize Advanced Features plugin  is no longer required- giving everyone access to different levels of CSS tags, the paste from Word function, clean up mess code function, type color, etc.  It’s been a plugin we couldn’t live without- esp. for the glyph finder- so it’s easy to find the ©®™½€ etc.
  • The plugin list now tells you if there is a newer version! Long overdue.
  • The tag feature helps you organize your posts and categories with yet another tool.

I’m sure we’ll discover other great features as we explore- but, as a warning to all- always disable plugins before updating.

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WordPress displaying odd characters?

In case all of a sudden you start seeing strange characters instead of an apostrophe-there is a good chance it can easily be fixed by a simple tweak to your wp-config file.

In the move for global blog domination, WordPress began acknowledging character encoding for different languages- this excellent article will give you the answers you need to your broken WordPress install:

WordPress Charset Encoding Problem After Upgrading to Version 2.2 » My Digital Life
WordPress blogs that upgraded to WordPress version 2.2 may encounter strange character set (charset) encoding problem where several characters especially apostrophes (’), quotation marks (”), and hyphens or dashes (—) are displayed as strange characters such as ’ or simply as question marks (?) when the posts are output to web pages. As you have probably suspected, the issue is caused by character encoding method used by WordPress 2.2 which supports setting of database collation and character set in WordPress config file.

We’ve been dealing with it sporadically on our server- and know how to fix it chop-chop. Just give us a call.

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