Managing a multi-author blog comes with many challenges. It is harder to maintain consistent quality content, coordination of topics and posting schedules can get confusing, and don’t forget to mention the costs. In addition, anyone who runs a multi-author blog knows that WordPress lacks when it comes to certain functions.
One specific function that website owners should not have to stress about is the ability to credit multiple authors for one WordPress post.
Sometimes you might have multiple writers collaborating on a single article for your website. The problem is, out-of-the-box WordPress does not allow you to give credit to multiple authors for a single post, even if they worked together to publish it.
Today I will give you two very different options for crediting multiple authors for one WordPress post so that the stress of giving credit where credit is due goes away, and everyone involved is happy.
I must admit, Co-Authors Plus is a bit obsolete. It hasn’t seen an update in over 2 years which in the WordPress world makes this plugin ancient.
Unfortunately, there are not many usable options for crediting multiple authors on a single post that I can find. Plus, this plugin is still being installed and activated on WordPress websites daily. In fact, just today Co-Authors Plus was uploaded 16 times. And last week? 580 uploads. I think it is safe to say this plugin is still quite popular (even if only because there are not many other choices).
Ok, since that is out of the way, let’s see what this plugin has to offer your multi-author website.
This free WordPress plugin allows you to assign multiple bylines to single posts, pages, and custom post types via a search-as-you-type input box. Even better, you can add writer bylines without creating WordPress user accounts for them. Instead you create a guest author profile for them and assign the byline as usual. This feature is handy because oftentimes writers that post on your website are not regular contributors and do not require login access.
Creating Guest Author Profiles
After installing and activating Co-Authors Plus on your WordPress website you will notice a new menu item has been added in your WordPress Dashboard under Users labeled Guest Authors.
Next, click Add New and fill in your author’s details.
You can enter information such as display name, full author name, and contact information such as e-mail address and website. You also have a section for adding an excerpt about the author and the option to display sharing buttons or not.
Assigning Authors to WordPress Posts
Once you have filled in the profile information of all of your guest authors, you need to assign them as contributors to the posts they helped produce.
To do that you must go to the post edit screen and find the metabox labeled Authors.
Notice in the metabox you can search for more authors, drag and change the author order, and even remove an author if necessary. It is also important to note that if you are the logged in user editing the post your author profile will automatically be added to post credits as well. This is easily fixed by removing yourself if you did not contribute to the post.
Add Template Tags
By default, all WordPress themes use the_author() template tag to display author information below each post. If you are using Co-Authors Plus your template files will need to be updated to use Co-Authors Plus template tags instead of the_author() template tag.
First it is always best to make a backup of your website before making any significant file changes just in case something goes wrong. Next you will want to open your single.php file and look for the code the_author() or other related author tags used in WordPress themes.
You will then need to replace those author tags with Co-Authors Plus template tags. Here are some Co-Authors Plus template tags you might want to use:
- coauthors() – Displays the first and last name of each author without any links.
- coauthors_posts_links() – Displays the first and last name of each author with links to their profile page.
- coauthors_firstnames() – Displays the first name of authors.
- coauthors_lastnames() – Displays the last name of authors.
Here is an example of what your new code may look like after replacing your theme’s original author tags:
if(function_exists('coauthors_posts_links')) coauthors_posts_links(); else the_author_posts_link();
The code above checks if the Co-Authors Plus plugin is in use. If it is, then it shows the author names and profile links. If not, then it reverts to the default WordPress hooks.
Please note that depending on your WordPress theme and the location you want your bylines to appear, you may need to make changes to your index.php, archive.php, categories.php, or page.php file. Additionally, if you are using a separate framework such as Genesis or a child theme you will need to use the appropriate hooks to add the above mentioned code.
Author Spotlight (Widget)
Another (more updated) option you have to credit multiple authors for one WordPress post is to use Author Spotlight. This plugin is designed as a widget so you can display author profiles with social links and a profile picture or Gravatar on any post or page the author has contributed.
Using Author Spotlight
Just like any other WordPress plugin, Author Spotlight is downloaded, installed, and activated via your WordPress Dashboard. You can then access your theme’s Widget section where you can drag & drop the Author Spotlight widget into the desired sidebar.
Here you can decide which social media accounts you want displayed (check out the installation instructions for the code to add social URLs to your theme functions file), link to other posts written by a particular author, customize the Read full profile text so website visitors can get more information about their favorite authors, and even set the profile character limit.
It is not usual that I come across plugins that rely so heavily on other WordPress plugins to achieve the desired outcome, yet Author Spotlight does just that.
If you take a look at the bottom of the widget configuration area you will see that in order to display a custom photo for your authors you must use the User Photo plugin. Otherwise whatever gravatar that is associated with the author’s profile will be the display image. While this may work for some authors, it may not be ideal if say an author uses an image that is not himself.
Another major drawback that I noticed once I really got into this plugin was the fact that in order to display multiple authors on any post or page, you must also use the Co-Authors Plus plugin explained in detail above. This is also true of you wish to display a short author profile description for your multiple contributors.
It is worth noting that the developer of Author Spotlight mentioned that the use of these additional plugins is not mandatory for the plugin to work. However for our purposes, you must incorporate Co-Authors Plus to achieve the end goal of crediting multiple authors to one WordPress post.
I must say though that Author Spotlight does showcase multiple authors in a unique and cool way if you are willing to add another plugin to the mix. Check it out:
I must admit, I do not personally run a multi-author blog. I am also blatantly unaware of how common it is for multiple authors to work on a single post together.
However, it would seem that WordPress plugin authors are not making the ability to credit multiple authors for one WordPress post easy. Although the two methods mentioned above are useful, after exploring both of them I am left feeling like multi-author blogs are being cheated. With one plugin being seriously outdated and the other having tight restrictions, I am not sure that this truly solves the problem of crediting multiple authors for their collaboration efforts.
Have you used any of the above-mentioned plugins on your multi-author website? Have I missed an essential solution that you would like to share? I would love to hear all about it in the comments below!