How do I customize my site’s menus?

Many new WordPress themes offer a way to customize their menus. Here’s how it works:

1. Login to your site and visit the Dashboard view.

2. Click the Appearance menu and select Menus.

3. Check to see if your theme allows Custom Menus. Look in the Theme Locations box (see image below):

If the text states that your theme supports at least 1 menu, then you can use the Custom Menus options to customize your overall menus on your site. If it doesn’t, you can still use this tool – but the custom navigation will have to be placed in your sidebar as a Widget instead.

4. Click the ‘+’ button to create a new set of menus. Give the menu set a name.

5. If you’ve already created Pages and/or Posts on your site, you can use them to build up your custom menu. For example, if I want to add several of my site’s pages to the menu, I can place a check next to them in the Pages box, then click Add to Menu. The pages will show up under the new menu. Click ‘Save Menu’ then enable it under the Theme Locations box by choosing it from the drop-down menu as your ‘Primary Navigation’ and clicking Save.

You can rearrange menu items by dragging and dropping them as needs be (meaning, in most cases, the top most item will appear on the left of your navigation on your page). You can also drag items under other items to create subpages. To illustrate, here’s the WordPress site using the navigation in the images above:

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How do I turn off comments?

Allowing readers of your site to comment on specific posts or pages is a hallmark of blogging technologies such as WordPress. With that said, there might be times you don’t want to allow readers to comment on a blog post or page.

To turn off commenting on an individual post or page

1. From within the Dashboard, Edit the Post or Page

2. Scroll down past the content boxes and look for the Discussion options. Uncheck ‘Allow comments‘.

(NOTE: if you don’t see these options, they might be hidden. Look for the ‘Screen Options’ button toward the top of your WordPress screen. Click on it, and you’ll see a set of options drop-down. Make sure ‘Discussion’ is selected).

To turn off commenting by default

If you don’t want anyone to comment on any of your blog posts or pages, you can turn this off by default as well.

1. From your site’s Dashboard, click Settings and Discussion

2. Uncheck all of the options under Default Article Settings

3. Scroll down and click Save Changes.

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How can visitors subscribe to email updates on my site?

Duke WordPress doesn’t offer any built-in way for blog/site subscribers to receive emails when new posts are published. However, you can use Google’s Feedburner service to perform the same task.

First, you’ll need to set up a Feedburner feed for your site. Go to and sign in. You’ll need to add a feed for your site. for Duke WordPress, your main site’s feed will be (replacing YOURSITE with whatever your actual address is on Duke WordPress).

NOTE: Your WordPress site needs to be publicly viewable before it publishes RSS feeds. Go to Settings > Reading and choose either “Allow search engines to index this site” or “Discourage search engines from indexing this site”

Once you have the feed created, do the following in Feedburner:

  1. If you’re not already, go back to and login
  2. Click “My Feeds” in the upper-right-hand corner and select your site’s feed from the list
  3. Click the “Publicize” tab, then click “Email Subscriptions” on the left
  4. Click “Activate” to activate email subscriptionsfeedburner-activation
  5. Scroll down until you find the Subscription Link Code area, and copy the HTML in the box below ‘Preview Subscription Link’

In your Duke WordPress site, login and go to the Dashboard.

  1. Go to the Appearance section and click Widgets
  2. Add a Text widget to the sidebar you want, and paste the HTML code from Feedburner in the widget. Save and check your site. You should see an option to subscribe to your site by email on your sidebar. Students and/or other visitors can click this and configure their own options for how they’d like to receive email updates.
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How can I track my Duke WordPress site’s visitor stats?

You might be curious about how many people visit your Duke WordPress site (or want to know more about what they’re looking at!). There are two ways to do this:

Option 1: Use Google Analytics

Google Analytics gives you tools to track the number of visits to your site, plus ways to see which pages your visitors viewed, what devices they used, etc. The catch is that you’ll need a Google account to use Google Analytics. Once you login to Google Analytics, choose to ‘create a new account’ for your particular site. Google will provide a ‘tracking code’ that you can copy and paste into your WordPress site. Once you have the tracking code, go back to your WordPress site’s Dashboard, and click Settings>Google Analytics. Paste your tracking code in the tracking code box and click Save Changes. Give Analytics a few days to start collecting data, then visit Google Analytics to see your results.

Option 2: Use’s statistics tools (the commercial site from WordPress) offers statistics tools that can be added to any WordPress site (whether they’re on or not). The catch here is that you’ll need a account to get the required API key.

1. If you don’t have one already, sign up for an account on

2. Once you have an account, login to your Duke WordPress site that you want to add WordPress stats to. Go to the Dashboard, click Plugins, and activate the Jetpack plugin. This plugin will then ask you to connect to via a brightly colored message on the screen (see below).

Clicking on the button above will then take you to a screen asking you to authenticate your account.

Once you’ve authenticated, you can chose from among a growing number of new add-ons from that can be added to your Duke WordPress site! Choose ‘Configure’ to finish setting up your Stats.


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How can I archive my Duke WordPress site?

‘Archiving’ can mean different things to different people. There are several ways to save and/or ‘freeze’ a Duke WordPress site, including the following:

Option 1 – Export your content

If you just want to take all of your content out of Duke WordPress and save it, the best way is to visit the site, go to Tools > Export, and download your site’s text as .xml. This file can then be reloaded into another WordPress site at a later date. VERY IMPORTANT: your images and attached files do not get loaded with this .xml file…so don’t delete the site you’re archiving! When you have created a new WordPress site, you can then import the .xml file you saved, and the new site will allow you to pull in your images and attachments from the old site. After you have everything restored in the new site, you can delete the old one.

Option 2 – ‘Freezing’ a site (stopping others from posting to the blog and/or commenting)

In some cases you might want to keep the blog/site viewable, but stop your authors (students or colleagues who worked on the project) from posting anything new. If you’re the blog admin, you can do one of two things:

a) from the Dashboard for your site, go to Settings > Reading and select ‘I would like ‘xxxxxxx site’ to be visible only to admins.’ This will allow only admins to view and add to the site

b) if you’d rather others still be able to view your site, just not add to it (ex: past students who might want to see what they wrote), you’ll want to change their role in WP. From the Dashboard for your site, go to Users and select all students (you can also select multiple users at once – see the image below). Change the selected students to ‘subscribers’ using the dropdown menu. They’ll no longer be able to edit the site or add new content, but will still be able to view it.

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How do I use re-use my WP course site from last semester?

Because of the special URLs Duke WordPress course sites creates (course_section_term – for example, environ300_10_f2011), it usually makes more sense to start a new course site each semester. However, some sites might contain content or conversations that a faculty member wants to share with a new set of students. The following options might help with re-using WP content:

Option 1: Create a new course site and copy the material over

  • follow the instructions to create a course site for this semester-now. Leave that site alone for a moment.
  • in your ‘old’ course site, go to the Dashboard view, click Tools and then ‘Export’. Choose ‘All Content’ and click Download Export File. This should drop an XML file on your computer (in a downloads folder, on your desktop, or wherever your browser is set to download files to).
  • In your NEW site, go to the Dashboard, click Tools and click Import. Choose ‘WordPress‘. Choose your file that you just downloaded to your computer and click ‘Upload file and import’.

Caveats: WordPress doesn’t really make an exact copy of everything from your previous site -it only brings over the text, images and links. You’ll have to do some housekeeping on your new site. For example, you’ll probably want to change the theme to the same one you previously used, and probably check your ‘widgets’ to make sure you have the same ones.

Option 2: Add your new students to the current course (even though it has last year’s URL, etc)

This would be the simpler option. Faculty can actually add other student enrollments to an existing course site using the Duke Toolkits tool. See the page on combining multiple enrollments to learn how.

Caveats: you’ll have the same URL with the old term designation. Your students from the previous semester will also still have access to the site. If you don’t want your students from last semester to add anything to the site – just make them all ‘subscribers’ in the site prior to adding the new students. That way the posts your previous students wrote will still be properly attributed – and they’ll still be able to see them – but they won’t be able to write new posts on your site.

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How can I embed a Google Map or Google Calendar in my WordPress post or page?

Duke WordPress administrators and editors can embed Google Maps and/or Calendars on individual blog posts or pages.

1. Go to the Dashboard for the Duke WordPress site you want to add your map or calendar to (note: you must be an administrator of the site you want to add a survey to in order to do this next step!). Click Plugins then find and activate Unfiltered MU. This plugin will allow you to add the code that Google provides for sharing maps and/or calendars.

2. Go to Google Maps or Google Calendars and find the code you’ll need to add to WordPress.

For Google Maps:

Create your map, then click the ‘Link’ button. This will reveal both a hyperlink to the map and a box that displays the code you need to embed the map into your WordPress site. Copy the code and go back to your WordPress site.

For Google Calendar:

Visit your Google Calendar and find the specific calendar you want to embed. Click the dropdown menu for that calendar and choose ‘Calendar Settings’ (see image below).

Once in Calendar Settings, look for the options to Embed Calendar. You’ll be able to copy a chunk of code that you can then paste back into WordPress.

3. Create a new Page or Post in your Duke WordPress site. Once you’ve given the page a title, click the ‘HTML’ option for the editor.

4. Paste the code from Google in the HTML editor box and click Update or Publish to create the page or post. You should now see your embedded Google Map or Calendar on your WordPress page or post.

View Larger Map

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