The second section you will find under Settings in the WordPress dashboard admin menu is Writing.
This top section first refers to changing emoticons that you can type using keyboard characters into appropriate graphical smiley faces, etc. Set as you prefer if you intend to include them in your posts/pages.
The second selection in this section has to do with making sure that the content that you place into a post is formatted correctly and will pass a check of XHTML coding standards. Checking the box will ensure that you have valid code, however it may prevent some plugins from operating as they are intended to operate (those that may not have valid XHTML code themselves). Set as you prefer, just remember that if you have weird operational problems after installing a plugin that this might be the cause.
Default Post Category
The option is used to set the Default Post Category. A new WordPress installation comes with one post category already established, called Uncategorized. It is wise to change or delete this category if you are going to provide any meaningful information about the website content you are providing to your website visitors.
For more specific information about the use of post categories refer to this post. Since WordPress must have at least one category you will have to establish a second post category of your choice, change the default category to that category and then delete the Uncategorized category. You add, delete or edit categories in the dashboard menu item called Posts/Categories. The editing menu for an established category appears when you place the cursor over the category title or click on th ecategory you want to edit. If you only want one category (for now) you can change the Uncategorized title by editing the category, re-labeling the title and then changing the slug to match the new title. The default category setting on the Settings/Writing page will change to the new title automatically.
The theme that is activated on your website will determine how the post categories are displayed. WordPress comes with a standard widget called Categories that will display a list or dropdown selector with all categories on your website that have at least one published post. There is an option for the categories to be displayed in a hierarchical manner and with or without an indication of the number of posts published in the category.
When a reader clicks on a category title they are taken to a category archive page – a listing of all of the published posts within the category. The theme will determine the format of the archive page. Some themes display the category description or category introductory content at the top of the archive page before the post title list. Some themes also provide the option to include the featured image and the post excerpt with each post display.
Default Post Format
WordPress comes installed with ten different post formats. Post formats determine the way that a post is displayed – the format of the content on the page. The available formats are: Standard, Aside, Chat, Gallery, Link, Image, Quote, Status, Video and Audio. The default post format is set as Standard, which will probably be fine for the majority of your publishing. As you gain more experience in posting content on your website you will be able to determine the types of content that you most often publish. That experience will also give you the incentive to experiment with the different post formats available to you.
Try generating a post with text content and graphics along with a featured image and perhaps a blockquote. Save the post as a draft, then view the post using the Preview function. Note how the post looks using the standard post format. Then go back to the edit page and change the post format to one of the other options, select Preview again and see what has changed and how it applies to the content in your post. Experiment this way to determine how you might use different post formats for different types of content. As long as you don’t click on publish the post and your experimenting will not display on the public side of your website. You can also try posts that contain only a video link, such as YouTube, or only a link to an audio file such as a podcast then use the post format for those content types and see if they mesh with your website style.
Post via Email
This section contains the settings that you can activate that will enable you to post directly to your website from an email message. Instructions are included in the section. If activated correctly this can be a convenient way to post. Implemented incorrectly it can permit anyone who knows the email address to post anything they want directly to your website. You might want to consider using the WordPress app on your phone or tablet instead.
You can set up your WordPress site to notify various services, such as Ping-o-Matic, each time that you post a new article. The entry for Ping-o-Matic is rpc.pingomatic.com. You can read more about this system at https://codex.wordpress.org/Update_Services.
If this section indicates that WordPress is not notifying any update services it is because the setting for Search Engine Visibility found in Settings/Reading is set to discourage search engines from indexing your website. We will discuss that setting in the next post.
NOTE: This update process is accomplished using what is called XML/RPC. In the not too distant past there have been security concerns surrounding WordPress and XML/RPC. One very popular security plugin recommends disabling XML/RPC functionality completely. This will disable this function of your website.
Other Settings on this page
You may or may not see additional settings displayed on this page (Settings/Reading). If other settings are present they have been added as part of the activation of your website theme or one of your installed and activated plugins. The meaning and settings for those items should be discussed within the documentation of those software packages.