Using PDF Documents On Your Blog

using PDF documents on your blog

Yesterday while on Twitter, I saw that @SeekingSurnames who runs the Desperately Seeking Surnames blog needed advice on loading PDF documents to her blog which is hosted on the Blogger platform.

Why PDF?

After I dispensed some advice (the solution is spelled out below), I realized that this may be a common problem for many genealogy bloggers.  The PDF format is preferred by some genealogists when posting documents since it not only greatly reduces the file size but it also can be formatted so users cannot alter, copy or even print the document.

Here are ways to use PDF documents in both Blogger and WordPress:

PDF Documents on Blogger

You cannot store PDF documents directly on the Blogger server.  The solution is to store the PDF using a service such as Google Docs and then providing a link to the document on your blog post.

  1. Go to Google Docs and login.  If you do not have a Google account, go to and create an account.
  2. Click Upload.
    blogger pdf docs 01
  3. The Upload screen appears. Click Choose File to locate a file on your computer and then click Open.  Enter an alternate file name in the What do you want to call it? field.  Then click Upload File.
    blogger pdf docs 02
  4. The PDf document will appear on-screen.  In the upper-left corner click the Share drop-down menu and select Get the link to share.
    blogger pdf docs 03
  5. The Get the link to share dialog appears.  Mark the Allow anyone with the link to view checkbox.
    blogger pdf docs 04
  6. The link will appear in the Share this link via email or IM: field. Highlight the link and right-click with your mouse.  The shortcut menu appears.  Click Copy.
    blogger pdf docs 05
  7. Now paste the link in your Blogger post.
    blogger pdf docs 06

PDF Documents on WordPress

Fortunately, it is easier to store and link to PDF documents if your blog is either hosted at WordPress or you are using the WordPress software on your own hosted site.

  1. Create a new post.  On the editing toolbar click the Add Media icon.
    wordpress pdf docs 01
  2. The Add Media dialog appears.  Click Select Files.  Locate the file and click Open.
    wordpress pdf docs 02
  3. Once the file is uploaded, enter the title in the Title field.  Click Insert into Post.
    wordpress pdf docs 03
  4. The link will appear in the post.
    wordpress pdf docs 04

© 2009, copyright Thomas MacEntee

Creating A Comment Moderation Policy


One of the key features of blogging is the ability for readers to interact with the blog author through the use of comments.  It is this exchange of feedback and ideas that transforms a basic web journal into a vibrant form of social media.

If you are going to allow comments on your blog, you should consider creating a Comment Moderation Policy and clearly stating it somewhere on your site.

Decide What Is and Isn’t Permitted When Commenting

Before you type up your policy, you need to decide what type of comments will be allowed – you may even decide not to allow comments.  Remember that it is your blog and you set the tone for the conversation.

The major blogging platforms allow you to configure basic commenting settings to help you enforce your comment moderation policy.

For Blogger blogs, changes to your blog’s comments settings can be made on the Settings tab in the Comments section.  Important options include:

  • Who Can Comment? – accept comments from anyone (including anonymous users), registered users, etc.
  • Comment moderation – review all comments (highly recommended), on posts older than 14 days or never.  You can also enter an email address to receive notification of a new comment.
  • Show word verification for comments? – require that commenters enter a CAPTCHA phrase when making comments.

For WordPress blogs, changes to your blog’s comments settings can be made under the Settings, Discussion section on your Dashboard.

  • Other comment settings – require commenter to enter name and email address; automatically close comments on articles older than ___ days.
  • E-mail me whenever – anyone posts a comment and/or a comment is held for moderation.
  • Comment moderation – hold a comment for moderation if it has ___ or more links; specify keywords, URLs and IP addresses which will trigger comment moderation.
  • Comment blacklist – add keywords, names URLs, IP addresses and email addresses and coments containing these will be automatically marked as spam.

Manage Commenter Expectations

It is only fair to set out your comments moderation policy for your visitors.  This can be done using several methods:

  • Make sure your Terms of Service agreement (TOS) contains a paragraph outlining how you will handle comments on your site (see the TOS here at GeneaBloggers as an example).  Most important is a phrase stating that you are not responsible for comments made by visitors to your site.  See Do I Need A Terms of Service Agreement On My Blog?
  • Consider also adding a comments policy statement so that it is visible at or near the comments box.

– For WordPress blogs, consider adding the Comments Policy plugin which allows you to create a comment policy statement automatically.  Here is how the end result appears:

comments moderation 01

You can also find more comments-related plugins at the WordPress Plugin Directory.

– For Blogger blogs, you can edit the Comments Form Message (under Settings, Comments) and add a brief message.  Here is an example of the HTML text:

comments moderation 02

and what the commenter will see:

comments moderation 03

Dealing With Spam Comments

Comments are the usual hangout for spammers and for this reason alone you should never allow unmoderated comments.  Imagine if Aunt Matilda checked in on your blog one day, went to leave a comment and saw the previous commenter trying to sell a product or worse yet leaving links for adult web sites!

  • Carefully review the comments settings and enable features which will help you identify comments as spam.
  • Spammers like to comment on very old posts – that’s why the “14 day or older” setting in both Blogger and WordPress can be very helpful.
  • Another trick spammers use is to comment with set phrases such as,  “Nice blog.  I think I will visit often.”
  • WordPress users should definitely install the Akismet plugin which checks the comment text against known spammers in their database and places them in the spam comment queue.

© 2009, copyright Thomas MacEntee

Blogger Adds New Labels Options


As I wrote on Sunday, as part of Blogger’s 10th birthday they are creating gifts for their users and plan on rolling out new features.  One such feature debuted today: new label options including the ability to organize labels into a cloud and to include/exclude certain labels.

Some readers of Bootcamp for GeneaBloggers may remember that a method of creating a label cloud was posted back in September 2008.  The result, as shown below, is very elegant but involves editing the template and working with html code.

blogger labels 01

Here is how you can access the new Labels gadget options in Blogger and how the end result appears:

  • Sign in at Blogger.
  • The Dashboard will appear.  Click Layout.  The Layout tab appears.blogger labels 02
  • Click Add a Gadget.  The Add a Gadget dialog appears.blogger labels 03
  • Use the scroll bar to scroll down and locate Labels.  Click Labels and the Configure Labels dialog appears.blogger labels 04
  • The new options now include the ability to only show select labels (Show: All Labels or Selected Labels) and to display the labels in a list or a cloud (Display: List or Cloud).  Select the options you want and click Save.
  • Then click View Blog to see how your Labels gadget appears on your blog.  Below is how the new options appear.blogger labels 05

While these are nice features, I somehow feel that my earlier Label cloud which required tampering with the template and using HTML code is a bit more elegant.  It has the flexibility of having different shades of color depending on how many or how few labels exist.  It also lets me set the point size for the font with a max and a min range.  But the new Google options offer some welcome flexibiity especially when you want to exclude certain labels.

UPDATE: it seems that the folks at Blogger Buster have posted a “how to” on customizing the Label Cloud feature which includes changing the font color and font size.

© 2009, copyright Thomas MacEntee