WordPress has the ability to allow post authors to assign custom fields to a post. This arbitrary extra information is known as meta-data. This meta-data can include bits of information such as:

  • Mood: Happy
  • Currently Reading: Cinderella
  • Listening To: Rock Around the Clock
  • Weather: Hot and humid

With some extra coding, it is possible to achieve more complex actions, such as using the metadata to store an expiration date for a post.

Meta-data is handled with key/value pairs. The key is the name of the meta-data element. The value is the information that will appear in the meta-data list on each individual post that the information is associated with.

Keys can be used more than once per post. For example, if you were reading two different books (perhaps a technical book at work and a fiction at home), you could create a “reading” key and use it twice on the same post, once for each book.

Usage

Based upon our example above, let’s put this into action. We’ll add two custom fields, one called “Currently Reading” and the other “Today’s Mood”. The following instructions will demonstrate how to add this information to a post using Custom Fields.

  1. After you have written your post, scroll down to the area titled Custom Fields.
    Note: As of WordPress version 3.1, some screen options on the Post & Page edit Administration Panels are hidden by default. Custom Fields are hidden by default if they have not been used before.
  2. To create a new Custom Field called “Currently Reading”, enter the text “Currently Reading” (without the quotes) in the text entry field titled Name.
  3. The newly created Key (“Currently Reading”) should now be assigned a Value, which in our case is the name of the book currently being read, “Calvin and Hobbes”. Type “Calvin and Hobbes” in the Value field, again without the quotes.
  4. Click Add Custom Field button to save this custom information for that post.

To add your “Today’s Mood”, repeat the process and add “Today’s Mood” to the key and a description of your mood in the value text boxes and click Add Custom Field to save this information with the post.

On your next post, you can add a new book and mood to your meta-data. In the Custom Fields section, the Key will now feature a pull down list with the previously entered Custom Fields. Choose “Currently Reading” and then enter the new book you are reading in the value. Click Add Custom Field and then repeat the process to add “Today’s Mood”.

You only need to create a new “KEY” once, after which you can assign a value to that key for every post, if you so desire. You can also assign more than one Value to a key, for a post. This will come in handy for people who read more than one book at a time.

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