I am trying to write a guide for using wordperss and can't quiet figure how explain the usage of post formats. I read all the documentation available on the web and then played with twentytwelve and woothemes's skeptical theme (on wordpress.com) and I was far from being impressed with the results.

My main misunderstanding is based on the fact that except for the status format the other formats can be auto detected from inspecting the content and length of the post, and the status format is useless in a single author site.

Can people provide real life use cases for the various post formats, or do you think the feature is not mature enough yet to be described in detail in any general wordpress usage guide?

1 Answer 1


This is almost not constructive. :)

On the other other hand, I understand the problem: The use case is not very clear. The original ticket doesn’t say much about the reasons besides see Tumblr.

The main problem is the hybrid nature of post formats:

  • They are meta data. Data handling belongs to core and plugins, not to themes. But they are used by themes only. So after switching to a theme that supports a different set of post formats all your former assignments are useless.
    This results in a lock-in effect, something we avoid in themes usually: shortcodes, custom taxonomies or post types should never be part of a theme.

  • They are a taxonomy, but the interface in the post editor treats them as mutually exclusive like a post meta field. This is not how taxonomies work in general, and it makes the choice unnecessary hard: an audio post can be a quote too, a link might be decorated with an image … and what about video chats?

I cannot provide real world examples. My clients don’t use this feature. I tried to offer it in some themes, but they ignored it completely, and no one ever asked for it.

I think the idea was to stop theme developers from misusing categories for pure styling and to get at least some compatibility between themes. As far as I can judge it, it didn’t work.

But I think it is worth being mentioned in a guide, especially explain how the choice determines the style more than the content (again: video chats). Justin Tadlock has written some posts about that, starting here.
But in development and documentation do not waste too much time with it. There are other, more important aspects of themes.

  • 3
    Post formats indeed is not a topic that gets a lot of attention. When they came out people were enthusiastic, but that died out soon after. For one of my sites I have implemented the links post format, but the way I use them is probably a bit different than what they were meant for. I still like to write a little text with it, so I only have added the actual external link to the single post title, not to the rest. If you want to have a look, you can do at wpti.ps
    – user2015
    Dec 31, 2012 at 10:10
  • +1 Nice read about the subjective questions and for the real case Answer.
    – brasofilo
    Dec 31, 2012 at 12:13
  • 1
    Excellent write up. Also, +1 Piet, and I also use the Links post format -- internally we use WordPress almost like a wiki, storing info about work but also a bunch of links to references and examples. We use the Press bookmarklet to quickly add such links as posts, and categorise / tag them. The twentytwelve theme tells us that a post is a [link] so that we know there's no additional info in those posts, just a link to an external site.
    – webaware
    Dec 31, 2012 at 22:46

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