Build a table of contents for your blog

Badge-BlogBytesAs we all know, a blog site presents its content in reverse sequential order. This is great for news or journal type blogs, but not the best for organizing a family history blog. Most blog platforms offer a page feature – the ability to create a page outside the blog’s sequential structure – which can be used to create your own table of contents.

Blogger page as table of contents

Blogger page showing page navigation at top of theme.

Blogger provides up to 10 pages (including the About page) which can be used however you see fit. In this example, I’ve created a page for my Chattooga County Barkers and added their family tree at the top of the page. I’m beginning to build links to specific stories already published in the blog. One of the beauties of building your own table of contents is that you don’t have to limit your links to your site. For example, I’ve got a family tree for these Barkers at WeRelate containing the genealogical details. Even though I don’t control that information (any WeRelate user can add to those pages), they are still the definitive resource for my family record so I’ll link each family group to their respective WeRelate page. Selected stories are posts I’ve written on my blog about specific family members, events or traditions. As I write more stories to “flesh out” a family’s history, I can easily reorganize these links into a different order to better present that family’s story.

WordPress users have the advantage of a complete paging system giving you the ability to build any number of family pages for each family you are researching and include some narrative while also using it as a table of contents for your blog articles and outside links. Pages have their own navigational system which can be displayed as top menus or sidebar menus, depending on your theme. And, best of all, WordPress offers nested pages which give you the ability to present your history in the traditional tree format.
WordPress pages editor

In this example, you can see that the Barker, Barrett and Gervais pages are children of the Family History page. The Gervais page serves as a parent of the South Carolina and Texas pages. My plan is to combine narrative with links on each of these pages. The view you see here is within the admin area of the platform. I can insert additional pages at any location within this structure when I have content to publish. For example, once I develop enough research to include a Mississippi “chapter” to my Gervais story (It was a long stop on the way to Texas.), I can insert it into it’s logical place between South Carolina and Texas.

Page AttributesCreating this hierarchy is simple. In the Page Attributes box in the right sidebar, select the page that will be this page’s parent and choose the order it will appear under that parent. In this example, I’m working on the Texas page which will be the second child of the Gervais page. When I’m ready to add the Mississippi page, it will become the second child and Texas will be edited to become the third. It’s that easy! The only drawback is that a page must be published before it can be selected as a parent. If it’s not ready for prime time, you can reset it to draft once you’ve made the connection to your child pages.

Even Tumblr offers pages although you’ll need to edit your theme to get to them. I’ve found that using a page to present a tag cloud – along with some text explaining what a tag cloud is – works almost as well as a traditional table of contents. This example is from my¬†Genealogy 101 blog. You’ll find a tag cloud generator with instructions at heatherrivers.com.

Gen101tagcloud

Check to see what page options your blog platform supports and take advantage of them to spotlight your family stories while making them easier for your family to find.

2 comments for “Build a table of contents for your blog

  1. August 16, 2014 at 8:32 am

    Blogger can give you more pages than 10 if you reduce the font a bit – I have I think 13 pages on my blog (www.anglersrest.net), whilst I prefer Blogger over WP the one thing I do like about WP is that there is more flexibility with the pages.

    • August 16, 2014 at 8:58 am

      Julie, thanks for the update. My Blogger skills are a bit rusty. ;-)

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