En dash, em dash, hyphens—how to use them and how to create them in WordPress

How many of you writers differentiate properly between the usage of the hyphen, the en dash and the em dash? Not yours truly! Until today, that is. I hereby vow—well, not exactly, of course—to explain to you how to use these three little beauties properly in your writing and to then use them properly myself.

Photo source
Photo source

According to this piece on Get it Write Online

The hyphen is used like this:


The en dash (which is the width of the letter N) is used like so:

August 17–September 2

And the em dash (which is the width of the letter M) is used like this:

I went to the store—the one on Keren Hayesod—and I bought the damn apple.
The apple turned out to be rotten—or so I believe.

Now how do you create en and em dashes in WordPress?

Aha! This is the second most exciting part of this post. Turns out WordPress is all ready to go with en and em dashes. I learned from this post that if you simply write two hyphens next to each other, without spaces, you’ll get an en dash and if you do the same with three hyphens, you’ll get the em dash.

– this is a hyphen
— this is an en dash
— this is an em dash


All this being said, is this whole topic passe or do you think it really is good for writers to make sure to use these punctuation marks properly?


According to this piece, the official way to create en and em dashes is like this:

In any software program that handles text, the em dash can be typed on an enhanced keyboard as Alt + 0151—that is, hold down the “alternate” key and type, using the numerical pad on the right side of the keyboard, the numbers 0151. The en dash can be typed as Alt + 0150.

What links should open in a new tab and how to do that in WordPress

Sometimes when you click on a link it opens in the tab you’re in and other times it opens in a new tab. Here I’ll explain when to choose each option and how to make a link open in a new tab in WordPress’s editor and menu. These instructions work for both WordPress.com and WordPress.org.

Which links should open in the same tab?

All regular links within the same website should open in the same tab. That means that if on the deena.co About page there is a link to My Writing, it should open right here, where you are.

And now the above paragraph has two examples of links opening in the same tab because this piece is in deena.co and so are those links.

Which links should open in a new tab?

All external links should open in a new tab. So, for example, if I now mention that I have a new post on habitza.com, the link should open in a new tab. Here is a link to Dear Introverted Man,.

Also, links to media should open in a new tab. For example, if my friend’s catalogue page includes a link to the catalogue in PDF format, when you click on the link to the PDF, it should open in a new tab.

These rules apply for menus as well.

How to make a link open in a new tab in WordPress

In a regular editor

1. Click on the link you want to edit.
2. Click on the Insert/edit link button in the WYSIWYG:


3. In the popup check the box “Open link in a new window/tab”:


4. Save and check your changes.

In a menu

1. Click on Appearance > Menus
2. At the veeery top of the page, click Screen Options:

screen options1

3. Make sure Link Target is checked:

Screen options2

4. Minimize Screen Options.
5. Go to the menu item that should open in a new tab. Click to expand this item. Click on Open link in a new window/tab:

menu new tab

6. Save and check your changes.

Good luck!

Dear WordPress client, those aren’t categories. WordPress lingo 101

Lingo shmingo and yet one cannot deny that if we all take a moment to speak the same language things will go that much more smoothly. WordPress clients often call items in the menu “categories,” which is understandable. The problem is that the word category has a very specific use in the WordPress Universe.

photo source
Please take my hand and I’ll tell you all about it. photo source

The main menu/main navigation and menus in general

You know those items at the top of the site with lots (or just a few) links to other places around the site? That is called a Menu. The main one that shows in the header on every single page of the website is called the Main Navigation. But it is made of a WordPress Menu. (Tip: WordPress Menus are created and edited in the Dashboard at Appearance > Menus.)

WordPress has the most easy-to-use menu system. You can create countless menus and stick them in different places around the site. You can also create one menu and use it in multiple places.

Here are the main places where you would use WordPress menus:

  1. One main menu in the header
  2. Possibly a second minor menu in the header
  3. A list of useful links in the sidebars
  4. A list of links in the footer

Tip: Menus are entered in the sidebars and footer using Widgets (stay with me! you can do it!).

Got it? So the main menu in the header is called a Main Menu or a Main Navigation.


Pages are static items on the site like the About or Contact page.

Pages can be related to each other as parents and siblings.


For example, under the About page can be Our Staff and a Mission Statement. About is the Mama Page and Our Staff and Mission Statement are the beautiful children. What a lovely little family!

In order to give the WordPress website owner ultimate control (evil laugh) relating one page to another within the page editor (see screenshot just above) does not automatically make it show up that way in the main navigation. It makes sense that you very possibly will choose to have Mission Statement show under About in the drop down under About but it’s totally up to you. (Tip: Again, this is edited under Appearance > Menus.)


Categories. OK, you ready?

Every WordPress site comes with blog functionality built in. This can be used as a standard blog or as a news section or, with a creative web developer, it might be used for other things as well.

Posts are individual pieces in a blog. They are time marked and they can be organized by category.

For example, this post which I’m writing right now is about WordPress and so I am going to put it in two categories: WordPress.com and WordPress.org. Check it out:


These are categories I created on my site because I know I write enough about WordPress that it warrants a category (in my case, two). You will create whichever categories you need.

And check it out, at the top of this post you can see that WordPress.com is a link. Click on it and you’ll get to all my content on WordPress.com.

Categories are general areas of interest covered on your site. You create them as needed and categorize your posts before publishing them.

How do categories connect with menus?

It’s totally possible there will be a category that is of particular importance to you and in that case you may choose to put it in your main navigation. On my site, for example, Photography is a category in my main navigation and if you click on it, you get to a mini blog, a list of all the posts I published categorized as “Photography.”


And if you click on it, you get to this URL: https://deena.co/category/photography/.

An item in a WordPress menu is not necessarily a category

All this is to say, dear WordPress client, that items in the menu are not (necessarily) categories and are not called categories. There might be categories in the menu but a WordPress menu can be made up of anything: page, posts, custom post types, external links, categories or tags.

Bottom line: Categories can be in the main menu of your site but it isn’t necessary. The main items in a menu are usually pages though they can be anything.

So what do you call the different levels of a main navigation?

Because a WordPress menu can have any kind of item in them, each item is called a link. Here, let’s practice:

A link!

OK. And as far as the levels, there is the top level and then there are either the second and third levels or the first dropdown and the second dropdown. Etc. etc.

That’s it. Thank you for your courtesy towards WordPress nerds.

A Wordy WordPresser

Here are the WordPress services I offer.

WordPress.com, I don’t like this page after publishing!

OK, I can’t hold myself back any longer. I love WordPress and use it for all my blogging needs, but I don’t like the relatively new feature whereby after you publish your new blog post, instead of being taken back to the editor, you are taken to a page that looks like this:

Why don’t I like this page? Well, most importantly, I don’t like it because 99% of the time I must go back into the editor to make some final changes to my post. So that means you are taking me away from where I need to be.

I also don’t like it because you’re trying to motivate me with your “goals” talk but it’s BS because you don’t know my goals and you’re a machine. Seriously!

Finally, you’re offering me all these options I don’t need. I suppose the share buttons are a nice touch, and maybe you can integrate them into the regular editor page once a piece is published, but I could add tags when I’m in the editor, which is where I’d really love to be right after I publish a post. I don’t need a special page for that.

So, please, when you next upgrade wp.com, please get rid of this feature!

One of your biggest fans

Embedding stuff in wordpress.com

It is amazing how many different types of content one can embed just in wordpress.com (meaning, without having the option to add any extra features/plugins). The following are all embedded just by pasting the links/HTML code into the Visual editor of this post.

Don’t forget to unlink the links so that the image will work.

A YouTube video:

A Vimeo video:

A Google Map! (Paste HTML code into the Visual editor, NOT into the HTML editor.)

A Google Doc (copy iframe into visual editor)

Where is my WordPress/Akismet API key?

The API key is needed when activating Akismet in WordPress.org. So basically, anyone with a WordPress.org site will still need to sign up to WordPress.com to get an API key.

(Akismet is a must-have, automatically installed plugin that stops spam comments before they reach you.)

Anyway, I just spent 10 minutes searching for mine. Every search I did, in Google or in the WordPress forums, brought me to the same useless article (useless considering what I was trying to do). So let me quickly tell you how to find your API key. This assumes you already have a WordPress.com account – if you don’t, go to the “useless” article which won’t feel so useless anymore).

Note: Your API key is nowhere to be found in your WordPress.com dashboard (even if someone tries to tell you otherwise). So you can stop looking now.

Way #1

Probably the easiest way to find your API key is to do a search in your email. You were emailed the key when you first signed up to WordPress.com.

The other way

  1. Click on this link.
  2. Enter the email address connected with your WordPress.com account.
  3. Click “Continue.”
  4. Check your email.

That is the easiest way to retrieve it.

And where does it go?

In the sidebar of your WordPress.org dashboard, under Plugins, click on Akismet Configeration.

There you’ll see a field where you copy in your API key.

And that’s it!

The new contact form on WordPress.com

I just started using the contact form available on wordpress.com with a click of a button. It’s attractive, unbelievably easy to use and well, supposedly it’s been available for a while and I didn’t even know about it!

Laugh at me if you want but when there is something going on at wordpress.com and I don’t even know about it, it’s disconcerting! I can’t help but wonder, “What else am I missing out on?!”

Until now you had to use shortcode in order to insert this contact form. Are there other funky things you can do on your WP blog if only you know the correct code?


Here is the button you now click to easily insert a contact form into a post or page:

Anyway, so far I’m using the form in three places. On this website for contact, on HaBitza for contact and on HaBitza to ask my dating advice (I might take that down if I don’t feel like giving advice in the end:). Here is what it looks like:

Zemanta – a new wordpress.com feature

This is the first post I’m writing using Zemanta. It’s a new feature on wordpress.com that helps you jazz up your posts. On the right of the post you will be able to see automatically generated ideas of pictures and other things you can add to the post. I am curious to see how it works though I must say I am not holding my breath. I will be very surprised if it gives me anything to add…

OK, it’s recommending a Zemanta link and a wordpress.com link. Cool! It automatically made the words Zemanta and wordpress.com into links!

I suppose it’s worth activating to play around with it and then you’ll see if it’s helpful, neutral or plain old annoying. In the case of annoying, you can just unclick the feature.

OK. Go to your dashboard and click on “Users” then click on “Personal settings.” Find Zemanta and check it off. Save changes. Go back there if you want to deactivate it.


WordPress.com: When I put up a new post, can the email that goes out be a shortened version of the post?

Question: I’d prefer to send out only the beginning of blog posts so that people have to go to the site to read the post. Otherwise I assume that I’m not generating hits. Unless you know if by opening the email that would count as a hit (that doesn’t make sense though).

Answer: Fuggetaboutit. In WordPress.com, as far as I am aware, there is no such option to specialize the email that goes out. But there is another issue here of wanting to generate traffic and feeling like a reader who only read your stuff in an email is a waste of a reader.

Best to get rid of that way of thinking, IMHO. Think about it. What if you had 1000 people signed up to your blog to receive updates by email? Would that not be awesome? You are not the first to ask this question, of course. There is an ongoing discussion online of, is a reader a worthwhile reader if they don’t click on your blog and my opinion is that yes, they are.

First of all, if you want clicks because you’re hoping to make your millions through your blog, you’ve gotta get rid of those expectations. One has to work LOOOOONG and HAAAAARD to make money from a blog. Right now (and always) you need to focus on writing the blog because you love what you’re writing about and you want to share your thoughts with others who might benefit from it.

And that goal is reached no matter if they read your blog on a bog, in a boat, on an airplane or on a goat.

I know, it still doesn’t feel totally right. I mean, hits is like the online currency. But also think about it this way: Both go up at the same time. If people like your blog, some will sign up for email updates because that is your preference and some will stop by because that is their preference. And, those who are signed up for emails will stop by when they want to comment.

One more thing: Clicks may be gold online but it is ease of use and convenience that keeps people coming back. Make your site annoying to use, people might like the content but will feel like you’re manipulating them in some way. You’ve gotta be nice to your readers. And being nice means creating a place to click when it’s good for them.

A newsletter would be different. If you were to send out a monthly newsletter with the highlights of your blog, then you wouldn’t include everything at once. But for regular blog updates, I think the way WordPress.com currently does it is best.