What You See Isnt Quite What You

On the surface it seems like Visual mode is supposed to show your content as it's going to look when you publish it, just as word processing programs show you what your page will look like when it's printed. However, there are two key ways in which the WordPress Text Editor is not WYSIWYG and I think it's important to get these out of the way early to avoid confusion and disappointment.

1. The Text Editor is not controlled by your style sheet.

What you see on your live site is formatted by the style sheet of your WordPress theme, but it has no effect on what you see in the Text Editor. There will always be differences between what you see in the Text Editor and what visitors see on the live site, and sometimes those differences can be quite major. That's why WordPress has the Preview button, so that you can see your post the way your style sheet is going to display it. It's important to check Preview before your publish or update a post.

2. The Text Editor thinks of spacing very differently than you.

You're used to hitting your Enter or Return key on a word processor and getting extra space between paragraphs — the more you do, the more space you get. Not so with the Text Editor.

Put as many spaces as you like between paragraphs, but when you click Publish or Update, they all disappear. There's a method in this apparent madness, and I explain more in Lessons 7 and 8. I also show you some ways to add that extra space if you're desperate to do so. For the moment it's enough to know that you can avoid frustration by only hitting the Enter key once per paragraph.

Another way of putting these warnings is to say that the role of Visual mode is not to give you exactly what you're going to get, but to make basic formatting obvious and to simplify functions like creating links. For instance, it's much clearer to see that this is going to be bold text on my website than to decipher the actual HTML: <strong>this is going to be bold text</strong>. And for tasks like creating links or making lists, it's much easier to click a button than to learn HTML coding. So Visual mode is still very useful despite its limits.

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