OpenScholar Tips

A few quick tips to help you work efficiently with Open Scholar.  Use the table of contents to the left to go to specific tutorials.

OpenScholar Tips

A few quick tips to help you work efficiently with Open Scholar.  Use the table of contents to the left to go to specific tutorials.

Introduction to OpenScholar

What is OpenScholar?

  • OpenScholar is a web-based system designed to make it easy for academic professionals to create and maintain personal or project websites without any special software or technical skill
  • It includes ready-made features useful for scholarly sites: publications, class pages, blogs, calendar, and photo galleries.
  • You can have a fully functional, professional website within minutes.  

Who can request a site?

  • Any SAS faculty member, graduate student, or professional staff member.

To request a site

Getting started with your site

  1. Go to your site and log in with your PennKey.
  2. Mouse over items in the banner. A blue triangle (▼) will appear, providing a menu that will let you configure each item: the title, subtitle, and logo.
  3. Then, use the Control Panel to set up the structure and appearance of your site.
  4. First, use Appearance to select a theme (and a variation).
  5. Use Site Building > Features to enable and disable features for the site.
  6. Use Site Building > Layout to arrange widgets in regions for each kind of page.
  7. Use Site Building > Menus to adjust menus. Disable any menu you're not using.
    “Add New Widget” gives access to more widgets, including the very useful “Custom text/html” and “Single Image” widgets.
  8. Use the “Back to [your site]” button to return from the Control Panel to the public site.
  9. Look for the “Need help getting started?” menu for productive suggestions (not available in all themes).
  10. Look for the green “add” button to add new content.
  11. Mouse over an area or item to see contextual menus that apply to it. In particular, look for the blue triangle (). Click on it to configure, edit, delete, or feature an item.
  12. Log out using the menu under “hello, [your account]” in the upper right corner.


openscholar_enduser_intro.docx144.27 KB

Logging in and logging out

  • Go directly to your site if you know the url (e.g. or just go to
  • Either way, scroll to the bottom of the page and click the PennKey Login button
  • Once logged in, you can go directly to your site (e.g.  or click the VIEW tab on your profile page and click the link for your site
  • When logging out, be sure to fully quit your web browser
  • See the video below for a demonstration


Turn on the admin bar; use tabs for editing

Turning on the admin menu bar makes editing your site a little easier.; Enter the control panel and click the button for Settings, then check the box for Display Admin Menu Bar.

I also find it convenient to keep one tab open in my web browser to view the Open Scholar Control Panel, and another tab open to view the site.

See a video demonstration on these tips.

Using the online help

The online help in OpenScholar is generally good.  Just click the question mark image wherever you see it to get access the help.

View the video below for more information.

Add users to your site

  • Go to your site and log in.
  • In the Control Panel, choose "Users"
  • On the right hand side at the top, click on the green tab that says "Add a user to your site"
  • In "Find an existing user" type the person's name to see if they are already a user on Open Scholar
  • If you have to create a new account for this person, be sure that you choose the person's PennKey for their username
  • Once the person is added as a user, you can choose to "Make administrator" or keep the default setting, which is that the user is not an administrator.
  • For a video demonstration of this process, see below:


Modifying the layout of a content area

You can modify the layout of specifc content types within a site.  See the video for a demonstration:


Customizing your front page

There are several ways you can customize the front page of your site. By default, Open Scholar will display your Bio in the main content area of the page. But you don't need to leave it that way.  You can choose to customize the front page with content from another area of your site (eg, announcements, blog posts), content you create specifically for the front page, or a custom image (to name only some of the possibilities). To do this:

  • Log in to your site and click "site building" and then "layout."
  • Make sure the "site section" box in the top left is set to "site front page."
  • Click "add new widget" in the green tab at the top right.

Now you are going to create a widget that you can use to display content on your front page. (Widgets can be used elsewhere, too, for example in the sidebars of pages. Note that this will take some experimentation: not every widget will work in any region on any page.)

In this example, we will choose the "Post in a widget" which allows us to choose content that is already posted to another area of the site and display it on the front page. Picking up the directions where we left off:

  • From the "Add new widget" pop-up menu, choose "Post in a widget."
  • A form will appear. Give your widget a name – this is the name that will appear in the control panel.
  • You may give your widget a title, but you don't have to – do so only if you want the title to display on the page with the widget.
  • In "Select a Post" type just a few letters of the title of the post you want to use. OpenScholar will search your posts and display a list of the ones that match. Choose the one you want.
  • Make your choices for display mode and the title of the post, and click "save."
  • Now in your control panel you will see the new widget you created in the widget selection bar. Drag it down to the region that currently has "bio" in it. You can display both, or you can delete the bio widget by clicking on the "x" in the top right corner (or dragging it back up to the widget selection bar).
  • Save your new layout.


Other options include the "Custom text" widget, which allows you to put custom content in a widget for display on the front page; and the "Single image" widget, which allows you to upload a photo that can be displayed on the front page. Note that for this widget, you may have to adjust the size of your image before you upload it to make it display properly. For some tips on adjusting the single image widget for different regions of the page, see the "Special Features" section where there are two posts that describe using a single image widget for custom display in the SAS-Motian and SAS-Vista themes.

Here is a video that demonstrates the use of the instructions given here:

Adding news and Twitter feeds

OpenScholar makes it easy to provide news feeds, including Twitter feeds. Here are instructions.

How to add a news feed

First, make sure you have enabled the Feed Reader feature. Go to Control Panel > Site Building > Features, and make the Feed Reader public.

When the Feed Reader feature is enabled, you can add a feed (for example, an RSS or Atom feed).

A lot of websites offer RSS feeds, usually marked with RSS in orange letters or an icon ().

Click on the link and copy the web address (URL) of the feed.

In OpenScholar, use "Add Feed". Paste the web address of the feed into the URL blank. Provide a useful title.

How to add a Twitter feed

It takes an extra step to add a Twitter feed, because Twitter doesn't provide an RSS icon to make it easy.

To add a Twitter feed, use the following formula,
where "twittername" is the name of the twitter feed. For example,

Combining feeds

The widget, Latest Feed Items, allows you to combine the most recent items of any or all of your feeds. To see an example of combined feeds, visit the front page of Jay Treat's site.

Managing Your Site Icon and Site Info

You may not be aware that your Site Icon and Site Info appear on our index pages:

If you haven't uploaded an image for your Site Icon, it will appear as an anonymous silhouette on our index page — even if you've deleted this widget from your site's layout. And whatever exists as your Site Info will also appear on our index page. For example, if you haven't changed the Site Title in your Site Info, it will appear as the name originally given; for example, your pennkey.

By default, your Site Icon is displayed in the top left corner of every page in your site. You can remove it from your layout. You may want to upload an image for it so that your image will replace the default silhouette on our index page. You can then remove it from your layout if you wish.

If you're particular about the appearance of your Site Logo, bear in mind that the size of the Site Logo in your site is 180 pixels wide and 140 pixels high. But in our index page, it will be cropped to display as a square 80 pixels wide and high.

You may also wish to edit your Site Info, because the Site Title and Description will appear on our index page — even if you remove it from your site's layout.