How to Organize Documents on Your Site

Step 1. Activate the WP Document Revisions plugin

You can use the WP Document Revisions plugin to host and organize document files. I like to think of it as a Media Library for documents. As the plugin page notes, it can also be used as a tool for collaboration.

This plugin is better than simply uploading documents to the Media Library because it gives you options to password protect and categorize your documents. Password protecting is key when you want to share files with peers but do not have the rights to do so publicly due to copyright. Note that when you password protect a page or post, any files contained therein are not themselves password protected at the location where they’re saved, which can lead to problems if Google starts indexing the addresses of the files themselves. To wit, WP Document Revisions solves this problem. For further reading on password protection, also check out this post on

To use the plugin, you will have to activate it from the Plugins menu via your Dashboard. Doing so will create a Documents menu in your Dashboard with its own submenu.

Step 2. Create the workflow states

Next, you will want to create categories for your documents, which the plugin calls “workflow states.” You can create these via the Documents>Workflow States submenu, whose interface operates much like Posts>Categories. I’ve used the plugin previously to organize readings for a class, so the workflow states that I input are Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, etc.

Step 3. Upload the documents & password protect them

Then, you’ll need to upload the documents themselves, which you do via Documents>Add Document. This interface looks similar to the post or page editor. Here, you will click to upload your document and give it a title. In the right sidebar, you can select the appropriate workflow state that you’ve created, and you can password protect the document as desired by editing the Visibility in the Publish box at the top of the right sidebar. Once you’re ready, you can publish the document, which will fully upload it to your website. That will give the document its own address, but you will need to link it or call it up on the website to make it accessible for its audience. The process I describe below will allow you to call up a bunch of documents via their workflow states and organize them in a page or post.

Step 4. Create a page or post that will automatically populate the documents

So, in the example I brought up above, I use this plugin to organize readings for a class. So, I create a page called Readings. In the page editor, I write out all the weeks of the class and put a shortcode under each week that will call up the readings for that week. Here’s the format I use for these two halves:
<strong>Week 1</strong>
[documents numberposts="10" workflow_state="week-1"]

As you’ll see, you use the slug for the workflow state to call up all the documents that are categorized under that workflow state. You can see this slug in its own column when you visit Documents>Workflow States. Even if I don’t have any readings yet for a particular week, I will still create a shortcode so that when documents are added, they will immediately appear on the page. You can see in the shortcode above that I can control the number of documents it will show for a particular workflow state. If you want to show all the documents, set this number higher than the number of documents you intend to upload for a given workflow state.

After you’ve created this page, you will want to publish and visit it to see it in action. You’ll notice that any password-protected documents will say “protected” at the beginning of the link, then list the title of the document. The page or post will show newly uploaded documents under their workflow states after you upload them.

Adding a Contact Form to your Site

There are two main options to have people contacting you through your OpenCUNY site. Both options are plugins: WP Jetpack and Contact Form 7. With either option, the end result is an email generated to you.

(of course, you could always go with posting an email address instead of a form, and if you want to avoid spam you could write the address out like yourname [at] gmail [dot] com)

Contact Form 7 is the more “old school” way to do this. It’s a plugin you activate specifically for contact forms. WP Jetpack (read more here) is a suite of plugins all put in the same place, and is constantly adding more functionality; they have recently brought in contact forms into their special features. Jetpack is more streamlined and simpler, but Contact Form 7, though more complex, allows you a bit more flexibility and customization.

The first step for either option is to install the plugins while in the dashboard of your site. Look for their names and then click activate. Once Jetpack is activated, follow the steps here to set it up. Once Contact Form 7 is activated you will see a new option in your Dashboard sidebar called “Contact”.

If going with the Jetpack option, in your Dashboard click Jetpack –> Settings. You’ll find “Contact Form” in the list and you should click Activate. Once you do this, when you now open the edit view of a post or page, you will see this option available to you:

Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 9.25.32 AMThe form builder that pops up when you click on Add Contact Form will walk you through setting up your contact form, and to which email address(es) your form should send. And that’s it! (Note: Choose this option if you would like your form content to be sent to multiple email addresses because it is more buggy with Contact Form 7 when sending to multiple people).

Contact Form 7 works a little differently. In Contact Form 7, you create a form independent of a post, and then you later embed the contact form code into any post or page. This might be a better option if you have a very complex contact form where you are asking the person contacting you to fill out a lot of information–and you want to have this information displayed in various pages on your site. In Jetpack, you would have to recreate this in every post by clicking on Add Contact Form and adding extra areas to each form. However, in Contact Form 7, you just do this once, and then can embed the same form in as many places as you like. You can even add the contact form into a widget area to display in your site’s sidebar!

When in your dashboard, click Contact–> Add New. Contact Form 7 displays in HTML. The default is already set up to a basic contact form.

Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 9.34.22 AMIf you would like to add more information you can use the buttons to generate new HTML for you, or if you know how to write in HTML, you can go ahead and write it out yourself.

Once you have done this, you will want to paste the contact form shortcode in to your post, page, or widget area. You can find your shortcode by clicking in your sidebar Contact –> Contact Forms.

Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 9.41.47 AM

And remember to contact your OpenCUNY Coordinators with any questions. You can use our contact form to get in touch (which we built using Contact Form 7).


Plugins 101: Setting Up Jetpack

Jetpack is a plugin that activates various functionalities on a OpenCUNY site. We recommend Jetpack  because it adds features and functionalities such as social media integration, site statistics, contact forms, custom CSS, and more.

To install Jetpack you will need to follow 2 steps. First, navigate to the “Plugins” area in your Dashboard using the black sidebar menu to the left. Search for Jetpack and “Activate” the plugin. Then you should be prompted to “Connect Jetpack”, this is step two. (If you are not prompted to connect Jetpack, try navigating back to the dashboard homepage, it should appear there.)

Now that Jetpack is activated you will need to connect it to a account. If you do not already have a account you will need to make one. They are free – you just need to sign up. You will be prompted to create or connect to this account when you click the large green “Connect to” button in your Dashboard. Once Jetpack is connected to your account, you will be able to go into Jetpack and turn on/off various features and functionalities.
One common feature people use is the Jetpack twitter integration as seen on the OpenCUNY homepage. For more information on how to do this, visit our How To post on 
Another popular feature is the Sites Stats function which tracks site and page visits.
If you have questions about Jetpack feel free to get in touch with the OpenCUNY Coordinators or visit the Jetpack site to read more about the features or get support.

Professional Website Basics: Posting Your Academic Bio & CV

This post will guide you through the basics of publishing your academic bio and CV on your own OpenCUNY site. In this tutorial, you will also learn how to activate and use plugins, format a custom menu, and change your basic website settings. At the end, you’ll learn how to further build on these steps.

What You’ll Need to Get Started

  • You’ll need to be an OpenCUNY participant and have an OpenCUNY website where you can build. You can sign up for a username and/or create a new website here.
  • You’ll need an academic bio to post.
  • You’ll need a version of your curriculum vitae that you can post online. The CV section of this post will further discuss formatting possibilities for this document.

Continue reading

How to Choose a Theme: 5 Tips

Especially when you’re building a new website, you might be thinking a lot about how your site should look. In WordPress, the look of the website is largely governed by its theme (learn more of the WordPress lingo here). With a number of themes available on OpenCUNY and many thousands more built for WordPress (that you can request we make available), how do you choose? This post is written not only to help you decide, but also to give you some general ideas about how to make that decision alongside theme suggestions. If you’d like to discuss any of this further, feel free to email us! Continue reading

How to Make Your Site Mobile-Friendly for Google

Recently, Google announced that it would include mobile-friendliness “as a ranking signal” for web searches conducted on mobile devices starting on April 21, 2015. An analysis of the announcement from Search Engine Watch suggested that responsive websites in general (i.e. websites that resize and sometimes shift content based on your device) might be given priority by Google in future search results across platforms. Read more! →

I Want to Run A Conference–What Next?

The OpenCUNY Coordinator for Organizing and Action is here to help you work through what you could do to use OpenCUNY in your conference planning, not just to get your information online, but also to help you streamline the organizing and make it easier for you!

OpenCUNY can help you with registration; there are various ways of using forms on an OpenCUNY site.

OpenCUNY also can help promotion of your conference with various social media integration into your site.

We also can set up contact forms on your site to standardize how participants communicate with you.

Want to save paper? Work with OpenCUNY coordinators to make dynamic mobile friendly conference programs.

Alumni on OpenCUNY: 3 Tips

In short, yes, you can use OpenCUNY as an alum. OpenCUNY is created by and for The Graduate Center, CUNY students, and we know that GC connections and projects often continue after graduation. We strongly support our alums and their projects that continue to build on existing work, but we ask that alums keep in mind that our resources are limited and act accordingly when possible. The following three tips detail responses to questions that we often receive from alumni. Read more! →

I Am In Charge of an Organization–What Next?

Are you a chair of a DSC Chartered Organization? Are you thinking of starting a DSC Chartered Org? OpenCUNY can support you in the creation of a website for your organization. We can also give you access to a site previously created for your Chartered Org. If you don’t have an OpenCUNY account, you can create one, along with a site. You can read about how to use OpenCUNY, WordPress (the system on which OpenCUNY runs), and learn the “lingo”. Read more! →

Check Your Spam: 3 Tips & PSA

Spam comments aren’t just annoying—they’re potentially dangerous and a strain on our system. Read more to find out how you can do your part to keep OpenCUNY safe and running smoothly! Read more! →

Password Protecting Your Materials & Documents

Note: This post was created out of a demonstration for the Beyond the Blog: Making Your (Digital) Teaching Portfolio event. Further resources on teaching portfolios from the event can be found here.

When you’re posting materials online, sometimes you don’t want everything to be publicly visible to everyone. Other than setting a site-wide privacy level (see this post for more information), you can specify passwords for your various content: pages, posts, and documents. Read on to learn about password protecting your materials & documents! →

OpenCUNY and WordPress Lingo

It’s almost impossible not to talk in code (pun-intended) when discussing how websites work. This handout is meant to make intelligible some of the terms we often use when speaking about WordPress (and OpenCUNY). What’s your digital lingo?

Download (PDF, 135KB)

How To Add Tweets to Your Site

There are many Twitter widgets available that allow you to show tweets from a user or a hashtag on your OpenCUNY site. At OpenCUNY we recommend the Twitter widget available through the plugin Jetpack. This post will how show you how to set up the plugin through Jetpack. Occasionally Twitter reconfigures its end of the plugin and you may find that the plugin stops showing your tweets. You may have to adjust this in the future as Twitter may change its settings at some point. Read on to learn how to add tweets to your site! →

Press Kit

The below file provides an overview of OpenCUNY’s features and a snapshot of what OpenCUNY participants are creating across the system:


This short video introduces and explains four of the main features undergirding OpenCUNY:

Welcome to OpenCUNY: 5 Ways to Participate

OpenCUNY, as a student-based and student-organized digital, open-source platform seeks to empower students to create content and collaborate with new technologies. Students on OpenCUNY are participants—not users. They can shape the governance documents and actively take part in the community. Here are five participatory features of OpenCUNY: Read more! →