Blogging How-To’s : Appearance

Stephannie has posted some excellent articles chock full of blogging tips from a writing point of view, so I thought I’d take a little time to discuss the more technical aspects of blogging with some handy tips I’ve discovered.

In the spirit of short blogs, I will break this up a bit.


When blogging on WordPress, you’ll notice first that you can’t use CSS to customize your blog unless you buy an account. But don’t despair, you can do a lot without it, and it might even be easier.   I mean, who gets CSS, anyway? (This is rhetorical. Obviously someone does. Just not me.)

So how can we get all the fancy “borders” and the layered “box” look? Just make your wallpaper look layered. For instance, here is a snap shot of my blog (so you can see what I mean)

You can see how much of that is actually in the wallpaper

You can see that the wallpaper is a lot “taller” than what you see in the preview – that’s because a monitor with a different resolution may show more, or less, of your wallpaper and because of the WordPress toolbar that runs across the top of the screen and covers up the top of the wallpaper.

To get your elements lined up perfectly (like I did for the sidebar) open your blog and then use full page viewing  by pressing F11 on your keyboard. Then, press the “Print Screen” button (It may say Prt SC or Prnt Scr, the initials vary by keyboard). You’ve now copied your “screen”. Go to your graphics program and paste as a new image, and then, if you have a program that allows for layers, such as GIMP (a free download) make a new layer and draw your “boxes” on that layer. When you’re finished, upload the wallpaper through your  Appearance –  Background menu (the Appearance nodule is on your Dashboard, towards the bottom of the page. You may need to hit a drop down arrow to make the choices show up).

Most themes also allow for custom banners, or headers. When you choose that option in the appearance menu, it will give you the dimensions of your header :

Also be sure to check all of your theme options because some themes have different color schemes and other customizations.

You can also add a “Blog icon” under the Settings – General menu. If, like me, you have no idea what a blog icon is then allow me to show you:

You can see that two of the blog’s I’m involved with have “pictures”, or blog icons, while the middle one just has a Blue W – meaning that no icon has been set. These icons not only show up on the new subscription page, too

More on using Themes from WordPress.

More on WordPress Appearance

Does anyone have any other tips or tricks for customizing the way your WordPress blog looks?

4 thoughts on “Blogging How-To’s : Appearance

  1. Stephannie Beman September 22, 2010 / 1:14 am

    Cool. I love this post. I like the layering of the background.

    • Joleene Naylor September 22, 2010 / 8:02 am

      Thanks 🙂 I really like the layered look, myself. The secret is always layering it enough to give it texture without it ending up too messy. My old blogspot layout fell into the later category, but I’ve changed it now to a tidier layout

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