Since I sometimes find myself answering questions from fellow bloggers on the ins and outs of using Windows Live Writer, I’ve decided to put together a few simple tutorials on some of my favorite features. This first one will be on the part of a blog post that convey so much meaning without a single word: pictures!
When I started Homeschooling Hearts & Minds 4-1/2 years ago, one of the things that really, REALLY bugged me about Blogger’s editing platform was the lack of control over what my post would end up looking like. I’m a very visual person and I wanted to know what my post would look like before I hit “publish.” With Blogger (at that time), even with the preview feature, that couldn’t happen. The preview never looked like the published post (to this day it’s still iffy). And it drove me nuts that sometimes bullet points would disappear behind pictures. Thankfully, I eventually found Windows Live Writer and formatting my blog posts got a whole easier. LW has the added bonus that I can work on a blog post without being online (great for my wandering eyes) and it’s compatible with a number of blogging platforms, including Wordpress.
When I saw what I could do with pictures in Live Writer, there was no going back to Blogger’s editor. Now Blogger’s editor has changed a lot in the past 4 years, yes, but it is still limited.
WARNING: I am not a computer guru or a LW expert, I learn by doing and simply like to share what I learn.
Adding a Picture to Your Post from Your Computer
Let’s take a look at how to add a picture to your post in Live Writer.
- Look to the right side of the toolbar for the “Picture” icon.
- Click on it and you will see a number of options.
- This time, let’s select “From your computer” (we’ll check out the other options at some point in the future).
- A window will pop up where you can locate the picture you want to use on your computer.
- Find your picture, double click and here it is!
Oh, yum! S’Mores!
Cropping and Resizing Your Pictures
Now that we have our picture, we can format it just the way we want. You’ll notice that you when you have a picture selected, a “Format” tab appears at the top of your toolbar. If it’s not already selected, click on that tab now.
On the far left, you will see cropping and sizing options. Just for fun, let’s try the crop feature.
Click on the “Crop” icon and a little window open will pop up with your picture.
You can rotate the frame in this window (that can also be done straight from the toolbar), but you have a number of cropping options. If you want to use the “rule of thirds,” select “show grid.”
Ooey, gooey-ness. Yep, that’s what we want. Click “OK.” NOW!
I don’t know about you, but I think that size isn’t getting the ooey-gooey-ness across, do you?
Right next to the “Crop” icon, you’ll find sizing, width and height in pixels. Notice the “Lock aspect ratio” button? This will keep you from accidentally distorting your picture by disproportionally changing the width to the height (I keep mine locked).
You also have the option of choosing from preset sizes and can even change what the default sizes are (options, I love options!).
Many bloggers have a few set sizes they will use for most of the pictures they use in posts, so once you find some sizes you are happy with, you may want to preset them. Let’s make our S’Mores BIG.
Yes! That’s it! Hmmm, they’re a little off-center. That’s easy to fix.
Aligning Your Pictures
Back towards the left of your picture format toolbar, you’ll see this doo-hicky for alignment (yes, that’s a technical term).
Click on that and play around a bit, there are options for making your picture inline with text (this is handy for lining up a row of pictures, we’ll get to that in a future tutorial, maybe), right or left alignment and centering. Let’s go ahead and center this one.
After the alignment doo-hickey, you’ll see options for “margins.”
Adding “White Space” Around Your Pictures So They Pop
Margins are the amount of white space around the picture.
- A “zero” margin on all sides looks like this when you have a picture left-aligned.
- It’s OK, but the picture tends to look like it’s practically on top of the words.
- And what would you say if I told that these few paragraphs were actually bulleted, but you can’t see the bullet points because they are behind the picture?
Doesn’t look very professional, does it? You can easily use the “margins” in Live Writer to add the necessary white space that will make your pictures pop and unmask your bullet points.
- The numbers are pixels, start clicking and see how it looks.
- This is the same picture with a 30px right margin and a 5 px bottom margin.
- Without the bullet points next to it, a much narrower margin would be sufficient. If it was right-aligned instead of left-aligned, a smaller margin would also work.
For most left or right-aligned pictures, I find that a 5px-15px margin is enough. For centered pictures, you’ll only need to adjust the top and bottom margins.
This picture is set with a 15px right margin and 5px top and bottom margins.
You can see that text frames it without encroaching, which is exactly what you want.
So…you are noticing some other doodads on that picture formatting toolbar…what are they all about?
Rotating and Other Picture Edits
You can rotate or even tilt an image in Live Writer. And try different picture styles.
You can also do some minor editing (brightness/contrast, some effects). I tend to do any editing in a separate program (better control) but you can play with the effects.
And you can add watermarks. Take some time to play around with those features on your own. There’s just a couple more things I want to show you before we go.
First, let’s hyperlink a picture.
- First copy the url you want to link to.
- Click on the picture.
- Click the “Home” tab.
- Click the “Hyperlink” icon and a little window will pop up.
And, voila!, the url will already be in the web address field. If it’s not there, you can paste it in. You’ll see that the “text to be displayed” is blank and that’s because you are linking a photo.
I set all my hyperlinks to open in another window and that’s simply because I don’t want to force my readers away. When the link opens in a separate window or tab, they can continue reading without losing their place and still follow the link. We don’t need to get into the more advanced options for now (more in a later tutorial!).
One last thing. Let’s Make Your Pics Google and Pinterest Friendly.
For SEO and sharing reasons, set the“alt text” for your photos, especially those you hope will be pinned.
- Google bots don’t crawl photos, but they do crawl alt text! The bots will not even “see” your photo, but you can tell them that it’s relevant to a search by describing it in the alt text.
- When you name and alt text your photos, when someone goes to pin them, their pin button will automatically pick up that info and put it into the pin description. It makes it easier for them to pin and you have some influence in how it’s described.
Here’s how to do it:
- Go to your photo format toolbar.
- Select “alt text.”
- This window will pop up. Live Writer will automatically fill in the “title” and “alt text” with the name of the your photo. Naming photos well will make your life easier! But if it’s something generic like img023, you can type in a new descriptive title and include relevant key words.
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial for making the most of your pictures in Windows Live Writer. Stay tuned for more posts in this series.
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