Blog Improvement Project Other

How to put boxes around your text – an idiot’s guide!

I have spent the afternoon learning how to put boxes around text in wordpress. It has taken me a while, because all the guides out there seem to require a basic understanding of html – which I don’t have!

So I thought I’d share my new found knowledge with you.

This is called ‘inline CSS’ so you add this html code into your post (the alternative is external CSS, but I haven’t worked this out yet!).

If you copy the following html and paste it into your text editor you will get a black box around your text:

<p style=”padding:6px; color: grey; background-color: white; border: black 2px solid”>Text</p>


Changing the number after the padding changes the distance between the text and the box, for example changing it to 10px makes the box further from the text.

 <p style=”padding: 10px; color: grey; background-color: white; border: black 2px solid”>Text</p>


The word color refers to the text. As far as I can tell you can just write the colour of text you want, and it works. For example I have now changed it to red.

 <p style=”padding: 10px; color: red; background-color: white; border: black 2px solid”>Text</p>


The blackground-colour is the colour of the filled in box. I have now changed it to blue:

 <p style=”padding: 10px; color: red; background-color: blue; border: black 2px solid”>Text</p>


The border is the colour of the border, so here I’ve changed it to green.

 <p style=”padding: 10px; color: red; background-color: blue; border: green 2px solid”>Text</p>


The number after the border colour is the thickness of the border. Increasing the number increases the width of the border. Here I’ve increased it to 5px.

 <p style=”padding: 10px; color: red; background-color: blue; border: green 5px solid”>Text</p>


And of course you can change the text to anything you like!

<p style=”padding: 10px; color: red; background-color: blue; border: green 5px solid”>anything you like!</p>

anything you like!

I’m not sure all colour changes are improvements, but it gives you an idea of how it works!

I look forward to seeing lots of brightly coloured boxes on your blogs in the future!

Blog Improvement Project Other

Blog Improvement Project Week 4: Blog Basics

This is the fourth week of the Blog Improvement Project. Our task for this week is to focus on the basics of our blog. I’ve been very busy!

I spent ages trying to improve the layout and add a ‘recent comments’ section to the sidebar. It didn’t really look very professional, and I was worried all my messing around was actually making it worse!

Then I upgraded to WordPress 2.7 and everything became much easier! WordPress 2.7 is a big improvement. It is much easier to add things to the sidebar without a knowledge of html, and all the behind-the-scenes management of the blog is much more intuitive.

With WordPress 2.7 it was really easy to add the recent comments section to the sidebar. All I had to do was tick one box!

It also has an option to add a text box, so I added my ‘currently reading’ and ‘top of the TBR’ boxes, so that everyone can see which books I’m focusing on at the moment.

My next task was to try to add a tab to show all the books I have reviewed on my blog. This was a lot harder than I expected. Bloggers seem to want everything archived by date, so it took me a while to find this azindex widget to organise things alphabetically. It is a big improvement to have all my book reviews in one place, but I’d ideally like them ordered by author. I know this can be done using tags for the first letter of an author’s surname, but this would be a lot of work for me. I’ll try to do it one day when I have a bit more time.

I must have done something to improve my blog’s visibility, as I was previously getting between 5 and 10 spam comments a day. I the last 12 hours I’ve had 156!  I’m off to find a good way of getting rid of it!

I look forward to seeing what improvements everyone else has made, and hopefully I’ll get a few more good ideas!

Blog Improvement Project Other

Ten Blogs with Great Layout Ideas

In the spirit of Blog Improvement Project, I thought I’d highlight the best book blogs I’ve come across in terms of layout. The followings blogs each have something special, and I thought I’d highlight the things I love about each of them.

Listed in alphabetical order.

1. 1 More Chapter

I love the bookcases round the edges, it is so atmospheric! This site is also really well organised. The tabs along the top for each year are really useful, and the sidebars are packed with everything else you need to know.

2. Beth Fish Reads

Beth has done lots to improve the layout of her blog recently, and I think it looks great. I love the little touches, like a blog roll that displays the most recently updated blogs, and the slide show of her awards. Some clever little ideas!

3. Cornflower Books

This site is so clean and fresh looking. I also like the way that the book reviews are kept on a separate site to free things up a bit.

4. It’s Dark in the Dark

I was impressed by how many extras there are on this blog. There is a book store, and several other items for sale in the sidebar. It also has updates of his Twitter status  – I really should look into signing up to Twitter some time soon.

5. Ex Libris

I love the way this blog is organised. Everything seems to fit perfectly into it’s space. It looks really professional, and the posts are always really well thought out too!

6. Farm Lane Books

I know this is really cheeky, but I’d love you to have a look at my ‘About Me’ page. I found this great widget that displays where visitors have come from on a revolving globe. I think it is beautiful! I found that it slowed down the loading of the page quite a lot, so I moved it to my ‘About Me’ page, so that it didn’t interfere with normal blogging, but I thought everyone should have a look at least once!

7. Fizzy Thoughts

This site is clean and well organised too. I particularly like the ‘now reading’ slide show. A clear indication of which books I’m currently reading is missing from my blog at the moment, so I’m going to try to change this as soon as possible.

8. Papercuts

An example of how the professionals do it. This looks great, but I’m not sure I’d like all the adverts on my blog. I like the way this site feels as though it is just another page in a much larger site. There are so many different things to go and look at from this one page alone.

9. Poodle Rat

I spotted the header for this blog, and just had to share it! It is really clever the way photo is split into three sections – so beautiful!

10. Tripping Towards Lucidity

I like the way this blog makes full use of both sidebars. It is really easy to see which books have been read recently, or are coming up soon. Everything you’d ever want to search for is easy to see straight away.


There are lots of other great blogs out there, but I didn’t want to carry on listing them for ever!

Writing this post has given me some great ideas for improving my own blog, and I hope to slowly add some of these over the coming weeks.

Have you seen a blog with a really great layout? If so, leave a comment, and tell me which features of it you really love.

Blog Improvement Project Other Uncategorized

Blog Improvement Project Week 2: Brainstorming Ideas

This is the second week of the Blog Improvement Project. This week’s task is to brainstorm ideas, and then use them to create a new regular feature for our site.

I was trying to think of something new to do when I stumbled upon a link to this site. (Thanks Books and Movies!) In which you have to guess a book’s Amazon rating by it’s cover. This has inspired me to create a weekly bookish quiz for my blog.

I’m not sure how successful it will be, but I’ll give it a try!

In honour of my inspiration for this task, my first quiz will be “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover!!”

I’m off to look for a multiple choice quiz widget to use. Does anyone know where I can find one?

Blog Improvement Project Other

Blog Improvement Project – Initial Statistics

I thought that it would be a good idea to note down my blog’s statistics at the start of the project, so that I can see how much I’ve progressed by the end.

Statistics for 29th December 2008 – 4th January 2009

Number of posts: 68
Number of Comments: 142
Number of unique visits per day 125 (min) – 195 (max)
Number of page views per day: 228 (min) – 807 (max)
Technorati Authority: 7
Technorati Ranking: 761,506

I look forward to seeing these improve, as I learn things from the project. Can anyone suggest any other statistics that are worth noting?

Blog Improvement Project Other

Blog Improvement Project Week 1: Setting Goals

This is the first week of the Blog Improvement Project. This week’s task is to set goals for our blog, and by focusing on what we want to achieve we will hopefully become better bloggers.

The main reason I set up this blog was to try to find people with similar reading tastes to me, in the hope that I could find great books to read that I otherwise would not have come across.

I also enjoy writing book reviews, as I have found that in writing them I appreciate the book more, and often realise things that I didn’t when originally reading the book.

With these fairly modest objectives in mind (after-all there are only so many books I can read/review each week) I set off to read the guide for reviewing your blog at problogger. Many of the questions are difficult for me to answer, as I have only been blogging for a few months. Some of the others generated more questions than answers. For example:

What do I want people to do once they’ve read my blog?

Go and buy the book I’ve just recommended? Leave a comment, to let me know their opinion? Tell all their friends about how wonderful my blog is? All of the above?!

The main thing I’ve learnt, is that there is a lot more to blogging than I first thought. If I want to increase the visibilty of my site then I need to be more active in the blogging community, learn more about the technical side to blogging, and write about more things that other people are interested in. Hopefully this blog improvement challenge will encourage me to find the answers to these questions, and by the end of 2009 this blog will be a much more interesting place to visit!