Writing and publishing WordPress Blog posts in MS Word

I suppose the first question I have to ask, before getting to the ‘How,’ is the ‘Why’ question: Why write blog posts in Word in the first place?

Why Blog with Word in the first place?

Well, I can’t really recommend Word as a tool (e.g., in my book), if I’m not willing to use it. I am also practising what I preach, and this blog post you are reading now was written in Word 2013 (the first few blog posts on my site were done with the native WordPress tool).

And I must also admit that the native WordPress tool for creating posts is quite nice. And the WordPress team has really gone to a lot of effort to see to it that you can create typographically professional blog posts.

But there are some distinct advantages to using Word, especially if you write the kind of blog posts that I do. I know that there are probably good responses to each of these, but the fact is that they do act as motivators to me, and I believe will also for many (but not all) other users.

Firstly, I can format my text quickly in Word with Styles. Yes, WordPress also has styles, but it’s quicker and easier to create and use new styles in Word.

Secondly, I have much more keyboard shortcuts in Word, and all told, Word generally gets the job done quicker than WordPress (compare adding a hyperlink in the two, as an example). I don’t have time for doing things slowly.

Third, I can work on the blog post while offline in Word, which is not so easy to do with WordPress.

Fourth, and this is a biggie, adding pictures is a pain in WordPress. Each time the picture needs to be added to the gallery, and then inserted into the post. Yes, WordPress has structured it so that you can do this in one smooth operation, but it just takes far too long. With Word, it’s just a case of simply inserting the pictures where I want them. When I publish the post, all the pictures are uploaded to the gallery in one go.

Fifth, I can use automatic numbering features (such as automatically numbering my figures, using cross-references, etc.). If I rearrange things in my post, Word sorts out the numbering for me. That’s no small advantage!

Sixth, I can do more advanced kinds of spelling and grammar checking, etc.

Seventh, and this is another biggie, tables are a cinch in Word, and a pain in most other programs. Having “cut my teeth” on Word, I sort of took doing advanced tables for granted. Word really is great with tables, all my gripes about minor things aside. It wasn’t until I started looking into the printing of that book, and developing websites with basic tools like Google Sites and even FrontPage, that I began to appreciate how far ahead Word is with tables. Want a table like the one in this post? Word should be your tool of choice.

I suppose I could come up with even more, but I think this pretty much covers my main motives.

How to set up the WordPress Blog account in Word

The first thing to do is to set up the WordPress account to which you are blogging.

Microsoft gives some very short and cryptic advice here:

http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/word-help/help-with-blogging-in-word-HA010164021.aspx

WordPress’s basic guide is here:

http://codex.wordpress.org/Weblog_Client

The basic idea is that you have to tell Word where to find the xmlrpc.php on your site, but both of the above assume that your blog is on the front page of your site—admittedly, many sites are set up like that.

Apart from locating the file, you also have to prepare your site to receive the blog posts. If you have WordPress 3.5 or later, this is enabled by default, but for earlier versions, you need to enable the Remote Publishing setting in the Writing section of the site settings. So step 1 should be: Upgrade to the latest version of WordPress.

Step 2, then, is find the xmlrpc.php file. However, my blog was a bit atypical, in that I wanted a static front page, and my blog page is not the main page. This caused some problems, but that helps explain to you, dear reader, how to get yours set up. Also, if you use some file browsers, the file path given makes (to me) no sense. For example, Figure 1 shows the CPanel file browser. If I had to infer the file path from that, it would be /home/trueinsi/public_html/xmlrpc.php. But when I connect with my trusty Total Commander‘s FTP client, I see that it is actually public_html/insight/xmlrpc.php (Figure 2). This equates to http://trueinsight.za.com/insight/xmlrpc.php. The /insight/ part of the location is, of course, the subdomain.

Figure 1    CPanel file browser

Figure 2    FTP via Total Commander

Now I’m getting somewhere. After having found the location of the xmlrpc.php file, the first thing you want to do in Word is to actually open a blank blog post. This is the easiest way to access the blogging tools in Word. Yes, you can add the tools from the ribbon to a new ribbon of your choice in Word, or to the QAT, but since you want to write a blog post anyway, this is just a lot less effort. Note that this setup needs to be done only for the first post. Word then remembers all your settings, and they are available each time you start your next post.

So, click on New, Blog post (Figure 3). Word opens a new blog post, with a trimmed down set of ribbons (too trimmed down, if you ask me)—Figure 4.

Figure 3    Creating a new blog post in Word

Figure 4    Blog Post ribbons

To set up your accounts (I eventually want to maintain at least two regular blogs) click on Manage Accounts (Figure 5), which will open the Blog Accounts dialog (Figure 6).

Figure 5    Manage Accounts

Figure 6    Blog Accounts dialog

From there, click on New, and in the New Blog Account dialog, select WordPress as your Blog type (Figure 7).

Figure 7    New Blog Account dialog

This, in turn, opens the New WordPress Account dialog (Figure 8), where you have to enter the location of your xmlrpc.php file (as discussed above) and your user name and password.

Figure 8    New WordPress Account dialog

You can also set the Picture options (Figure 9).

Figure 9    Picture options

Figure 10 shows the dialog with all the settings completed.

Figure 10    Completed account settings

When you have added the details and clicked on OK, Word will warn you about the security of the post (Figure 11).

Figure 11    Sending information

So now you’re all set, and from now on, it should be as simple as just selecting your account and writing your blog entry.

Setting up individual blog posts

When the Blog template is opened, it displays a title with the account you want to use (Figure 12). If you have multiple accounts, you can select the right account from the dropdown that will appear when you click on the account line (Figure 13).

Figure 12    Blog title and account

Figure 13    Selecting a different blog account

It is also a useful idea to add categories to your posts. For example, I have set up my menu to include several categories, so that they serve as handy shortcuts to people wanting to read posts related to that category. So, for example, Figure 14 shows my category for Excel blog posts.

Figure 14    Example of a blog-post category in a site menu

Adding categories is easy—just select Insert Category from the Blog Post ribbon tab (Figure 15). The list of categories will be displayed underneath the account information (see Figure 13 above).

Figure 15    Adding categories

For the rest, simply write the blog post, as per normal. The dearth of tools caused by Word hiding normal editing ribbon tabs is a bit annoying, but is easily overcome by adding the tools you want either to the Blog Post ribbon or the QAT.

Publishing the blog post

Once the post is ready, you can publish it straight from Word (Figure 16). I generally recommend first publishing it as a draft, which is exactly the same as saving a blog post as a draft from the WordPress editor. The advantage to this approach is that it allows me to go to WordPress and satisfy my paranoid self that everything looks right before going public with the post (for example, with this post, I forgot to update my fields, so my figure numbering and cross-referencing was out—I could then go back to Word and correct it). If you’re braver, you can go straight to publishing from Word. It stands to reason that while you can write the post offline, you need to be online to publish the post.

Figure 16    Publishing a blog post

Editing existing blog posts

What I find really nice is the fact that you can also open existing posts in Word and edit them. Simply click on Open Existing (Figure 17), choose the post you want to edit from the Open Existing Post dialog (Figure 18), and you’re good to go.

Figure 17    Opening existing blog posts

Figure 18    Open Existing Post dialog

Conclusion

In short, while there are many Blog writing tools out there, I find that for the kind of work I tend to want to include in my Blog posts—captioned figures, tables, fast editing, etc., Word is a good tool of choice, albeit not the only one. After some simple setup, blogging with Word is clean and simple, the way it should be.

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