WordPress & RSS: What You Need to Know

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1 Revised June-2011 Cooperative Extension Technology Services : What You Need to Know Many websites, including Coop s WordPress sites, use RSS technology to continuously feed announcements of their latest content. Individuals can subscribe to a site s RSS feed to learn about what s new, and WordPress publishers can harness RSS feeds to populate web pages with fresh content from other relevant sites. In this guide you ll learn how to use RSS on your WordPress site, plus you ll learn how you can subscribe to RSS feeds of work or personal interest. What is RSS and what does it do? RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary. What you need to know is that RSS is a format for delivering regularly changing web content. The concept of RSS is similar to subscribing to magazines or newsletters that interest you. Instead of getting the content in the mail from the post office, RSS content gets delivered to you from the Web via a FEED. You might subscribe to RSS feeds to stay current on articles or news from a wide array of websites, or you might use RSS on your own WordPress site to pull in fresh content from related sites or pages. How can you use RSS? Like many people, you may have a lot of bookmarked Websites that you visit routinely. Or perhaps you go to Google (or your favorite search engine) to look for today s top news stories or the latest research or topics of interest, or blog sites to stay current on the latest articles. Sometimes if you re busy many days may go by before you can get back to your favorite sites to read news, get updates, etc. You may have missed things that are important to you and it can be hard to catch up. When you need to get information from the web, a faster, more efficient way is to use RSS. A bit later in this guide, you ll learn how to bring fresh Web content directly to you via RSS.

2 RSS and WordPress Not only can you subscribe to feeds as a consumer of information, you can also harness RSS technology to populate your WordPress site with content from other relevant sites or pages. For example, on our Coop IT site there is an RSS feed showing recent headlines from the Pew Internet website: These links were not typed in by hand but were pulled in automatically via an RSS feed. As the Pew Internet site updates their content, the Pew links on the Coop IT site will be atomatically updated, too. Another example is from one of our UWEX County websites. Here, the County s WordPress site is using RSS to pull in recent Ag-related posts from sites in our FYI.uwex.edu network: These related post headlines were not typed in manually on this page. An RSS feed was added to the page so that these related post headlines appear automatically. As new agrelated posts are added to the site, this Agriculture page will be updated as well. 2

3 About Feeds Now that you know what RSS is, let s see it how it works. This symbol is the most commonly used icon on websites to designate an RSS feed. When you see that icon on a website it means you can subscribe to that site to find out about updates without having to repeatedly visit the site in your browser. Sometimes you ll see the RSS feed icon near the top of the page: Or you may find a link to the RSS feed at the bottom of the site, in the footer area: Even if you don t see the icon or link on the page itself, any site that has RSS technology will allow you to access that site s feed in the from the browser. In Firefox you ll see it in the browser s address bar, and in Internet Explorer you ll see it in the Command Bar. 3

4 RSS in WordPress Sites When adding or editing pages on your WordPress site, you ll see the orange RSS icon in the bottom row of quick tags. This is the Insert an RSS Feed quick tag and it allows you to embed an RSS feed into a page. Here s an example of the Agriculture page on a County site using RSS to automatically pull in links to posts in the agriculture category on their site. (Each category and tag in a WordPress site has its own RSS feed.) RSS feeds can be used in this same way on any FYI site. 4

5 How to set up a WordPress page to include an RSS feed 1. Open up the page for editing (you need to be logged into WordPress). 2. On the Edit Page screen, place your cursor where you want the RSS feed to start. 3. Click the Insert an RSS Feed quick tag button. This will open the Embed An RSS Feed dialog box. 4. Enter the RSS Feed URL. Click the Additional Settings heading to open the bottom half of the dialog box where you can select number of items to list, whether or not to include content, author and date. For example, the feed for agriculture posts on a UWEX county site would look something like this: (Agriculture news from Marathon County) Other Feed URL examples: (Information Technology news from Cooperative Extension Technology Services) (Weekly news from Wisconsin DNR) 5

6 Note: To find the feed of any website look for the standard feed icon, or the word subscribe or feed. Right click and copy the URL usually by using the copy link or copy link location option available. 5. Click the Okay button. 6. The feed s shortcode will appear on the page editing window. In the shortcode you have the following options: itemcount=0: Change the 0 to another value to display a specific number of feed items. For example, itemcount=3 will tell WordPress to always display only the 3 most recent items in the feed. itemauthor=0: Change the 0 to a 1 to display the post author s name. itemdate=0: Change the 0 to a 1 to display the date the post was published. itemcontent=0: Change the 0 to a 1 to display a post excerpt below the post headline. 7. Publish the page to view the embedded RSS feed. Using RSS feeds in a sidebar widget You can include another site s RSS feed on your WordPress site. (This feature is not available for Co-op Connection sites.) When you include anther site s RSS feed on your blog, new article titles from the other blog will automatically be listed in your sidebar as those new titles are published. 6

7 To include another site s RSS feed on your blog, login to your FYI site and go to the Dashboard. Under Appearance select Widgets and then click the click and drag the RSS widget to your sidebar. Enter the URL of the RSS feed and give the feed a title. Select other display options: Number of items to display Item content Author Date When finished, click Save. The RSS feed will appear on your blog s sidebar. To subscribe to other RSS Feeds 1. Get a feed reader (Outlook 2007 has a built-in feed reader, or you can use a web-based tool). 2. Subscribe to RSS feeds. 3. Read and manage the feeds you receive. Let s take a closer look at this process. Use Outlook 2007/2010 as your Feed Reader There are several ways to get RSS content delivered automatically to your Outlook 2007 or Outlook account. The easiest way is to simply go to a website that has an RSS feed and click the RSS icon. 7

8 For example, let s say I frequently visit the DNR News Releases site ( At the top of that page there is an RSS icon and a link to the DNR News Releases RSS Feed. When I click that RSS icon, the subscription page for the DNR News Releases will open. I ll select Microsoft Outlook from the pull-down menu and click Subscribe Now. The following dialog box will open in Outlook and I ll click the Yes button to subscribe to that site s feed via Outlook. Now a folder is displayed for the RSS Feed in my Outlook s navigation pane: 8

9 From this point forward, Outlook will automatically check the RSS publisher s server for new and updated items on a regular schedule. When I open the folder, the latest items downloaded from the RSS Feed are displayed. I can open, read, and delete these RSS items just as I would any mail message. I can even move, flag or forward the information to someone else. What if you don t have Outlook 2007/2010? Although Outlook 2007 has a built-in RSS reader, some of you may not have Outlook 2007 or 2010 or would prefer to access your RSS feeds in another way. Fortunately, there are several other options for you. Feed Readers There are many different feed reading applications or news aggregators. Most of these services are free and you simply need to create a user account. Some require that you download software, others do not. Typically a feed reader will display your feeds (subscriptions) and the number of new posts or articles for each feed. If you subscribe to several feeds, you can go directly to your feed reader to view all your favorite sites updates in one place. You can also subscribe to additional feeds right within the feed reader itself. Most feed reading applications will have built-in help features to get you started. Google Reader ( is an example of a feed reader and it looks something like this. Other popular feed readers are: Bloglines ( FeedReader ( Built-in Support in your Browser Mozilla Firefox web browser has built-in support for RSS feeds (called Live Bookmarks) as does IE (versions 7 or newer) and Safari. 9

10 In Firefox, you can subscribe to an RSS feed using Live Bookmarks. When you visit a site using Firefox you may see the orange RSS icon in the right most part of the address bar (version 1.5 and later). You can subscribe to that site s feed(s) by clicking the orange icon. If there is more than one RSS feed for that site, Firefox shows a list from which you can pick one. A yellow bar will appear giving you the option to subscribe to that site s feed. Select Live Bookmarks from the pull-down menu. (Note that you could also select Microsoft Outlook.) The Add Live Bookmark dialog box will open. Create the bookmark in the Bookmarks Toolbar which will show up under the navigation toolbar and you ll be able to access the Live Bookmark very quickly and easily. Click Add. If you have your bookmarks toolbar activated (go to Firefox s VIEW menu, select TOOLBARS, and then BOOKMARKS), you ll see all your RSS feeds listed under the navigation toolbar: 10

11 Click the Live Bookmark to see a list of recent articles from the feed plus a link to the main site where the feed came from. In Internet Explorer 7 and 8, the process is similar. If a website has RSS feeds, IE will illuminate the FEEDS button. Click the button and IE will display the feeds page. 11

12 Click Subscribe to this feed. You view feeds on the Feeds tab in the Favorites Center. To view your feeds in Internet Explorer 8, click the Favorites button, and then click Feeds. In Internet Explorer 7, click the Favorites Center button, and then click Feeds. For more information: Live Bookmarks in Firefox Using feeds (RSS ) in IE 7 and IE

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