This is one of the articles in a series about how I fine tuned my Pelican+Elegant web site to make it “more mine”. For other articles in the series, click on the title of the article under the heading “Fine Tuning Pelican” on the right side of the webpage.

Unlike my series on Choosing and Setting Up Pelican, these articles are intended to be byte sized, addressing specific fine tunings I made to my own website. As such, the first article in this series contains a Disclaimer section with generic information for each of the articles in the series.


In setting up the website to reflect my decisions on how things should be displayed, I surveyed a number of plugins to use. Some of these plugins were chosen as they are supported by the Elegant theme, and some by Pelican itself. This article details the list of the plugins that I use on my own website and why I decided to use them.

Plugins I Use

Pelican plugins help shape the look and feel of a website, but they can also get in the way of the content creation. For me, it is important to experiment with plugins to determine whether or not the plugin and the services it presents enhances either the content creation or content display in a manner that I will find positive for my website. If it doesn’t meet that metric with an acceptable cost for meeting that metric, then the plugin gets discarded quickly.

For the initial setup of my website, I just went for the standard plugins that work well with Elegant, keeping it simple for now.

The tipue_search plugin provides for a simple yet effect method to catalog the text on the website and to provide for manner in which to search that catalog. Elegant exposes this capability using a search box in the top right corner of each webpage. Instructions on how to configure this plugin are located here.

Simply, a website without search would look vary basic, and I wanted to show a finished product. For me, Elegant makes it look nice, while being easy to use.

Between the extract_toc plugin and some Markdown configuration, Pelican can take a single Markdown tag and generate an accurate table of contents for the article in it’s place. Elegant can then take that information out of the main body of the article and display it on the left sidebar in a manner that does not disrupt the reading of the article. Instructions on how to configure this plugin are located here.

I subscribe to Elegant’s philosophy on providing a clean reading experience with minimal distractions. By moving the table of contents to the left sidebar and out of the article, I believe the reader can focus more on the article.

Series Indicators

The series plugin provides extra information to Pelican’s template engine, to allow themes to show that an article is part of a series. Elegant takes that information and displays the title of the series on the right sidebar, followed by an ordered list of links to each article in the series. Instructions on how to configure this plugin are located here.

In a similar vein to how I feel about Elegant displaying the table of contents, having a series navigation on the right sidebar allows for a ready to have a clean reading experience while allowing the reader the freedom to navigate within a series of articles.

Previous And Next Article Links

The neighbors plugin provides the necessary information to determine the neighbors of the current article, with respect to the time it was written. Elegant displays this information as the links are the bottom of the article, to assist in navigation. Instructions on how to configure this plugin are located here.

Quite simply, having the previous and next article links allow a reader to navigate backward or forward through articles, without getting in the way of normal reading of the article.

Sharing Article Links

The share_post plugin provides information that Elegant than uses to display simple text links at the end of articles. These links allow the reader to share this on their Twitter accounts, through Facebook, or via there email accounts. The main benefit of these links are that they allow the reader to share these posts, hopefully attracting more readers to the website without being tracked. Many of the other “share” buttons on other blogs are implement tracking on each link from one website to another, a practice that doesn’t sit well with every reader. Instructions on how to configure this plugin are located here.

The benefit here is easy for me to quantify. If it is simple and safe to share articles with their friends, they will naturally share the articles. If readers share articles, I will get more readers.

Improved Asset Downloads

The assets plugin provides for a way for Pelican to take supporting files for the website, such as CSS files and Javascript files, and combine them into a smaller number of files. By performing this ‘minification’, the number of downloads for each page or article is reduced, and therefore the pages and articles load time is smaller. Instructions on how to configure this plugin are located here.

The benefit here is also easy for me to quantify. From a reader’s point of view, I don’t want a page taking forever to download… the quicker the better. From a provider’s point of view, fewer requests containing fewer bytes means less load on the infrastructure.

Reading Time Estimate

The post_stats plugin calculates an estimate of the time required to read the article. Elegant displays this estimate at the top of the right sidebar. Instructions on how to configure this plugin are located here.

The benefit of this plugin is harder for me to justify, but it falls into my concept of look-and-feel. This plugin provides a good estimate as to how long a reader can expect to take in reading the article, and hence budget enough time for them to read the article without feeling hurried.


As the sitemap plugin requires a significant amount of configuration, it is detailed along with the configuration for the robots.txt file in the article on Fine Tuning Pelican: Enabling Website Crawling.

What Was Accomplished

This article walked through the plugins that I currently use for my website, what they are for, and how to install them. To add extra context to each plugin, I also detailed some of the reasons why I selected to use a given plugin, with it’s benefits to me.

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So what do you think? Did I miss something? Is any part unclear? Leave your comments below.

Reading Time

~5 min read


Fine Tuning Pelican+Elegant




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