Disclosure: This content is reader-supported, which means if you click on some of our links that we may earn a commission.
Struggling with the WordPress editor? Can’t quite get your blog posts to look exactly how you want? In this guide, we walk through the basics of using the Gutenberg WordPress editor so you can confidently create, edit, and publish content on your site.
Why The WordPress Editor Is So Important
If you want to successfully publish posts on your WordPress site with ease, you’ll need to understand how the WordPress editor works–it’s the part of your dashboard specifically designed to help you publish content. Without it, you won’t be able to post blog content…which means your SEO rankings will stay flat…which means customers won’t find your website. So mastering the editor is pretty important!
With WordPress’s newest Gutenberg editor update, you’re able to create feature-rich posts and pages that catch your audience’s attention without having to know any code. Below, we go through a few basics to get you started on the right foot.
Quick Tips to Improve Your WordPress Editor Today
The Gutenberg editor is great and a step up from WordPress’s old editor. Still, there are a number of post creation style options, called “blocks,” that it doesn’t automatically include. This is where it can be useful to upload a WordPress plugin that’ll give you more block options to build your posts with.
For that, there’s Gutenberg Blocks – Ultimate Addons for Gutenberg. Once you upload and activate it, you get access to a list of extra Gutenberg blocks that help you build your posts and pages faster.
These block additions to your editor help you easily create things like forms, step-by-step guides, inline notices, stylized call-to-action sections, an insert of a Google maps location, icons, buttons, pricing tables, testimonials, or even a table of contents.
Note that if you’re using the Astra theme, the plugin also gives you access to a ton of pre-built pages you can customize and publish. Thankfully, the plugin is free, and you can download it here.
Know The Basic Blocks
One of the more obvious WordPress editor tips we can give you is to know the basics of your WordPress editor. Not exactly groundbreaking, we know. But if you take the time to learn the basics, navigating the more complex features of the editor will become that much easier.
For instance, some of the more helpful things to know about your WordPress editor are the basic blocks like Paragraph, Heading, Quote, and List.
Under post layout, you can also choose whether you want your content to be displayed with a sidebar or without one.
On the right side of your editor, you have a few options to choose from when you’re editing your content.
The Preview button lets you take a look at what your content will look like once you publish it. From there, as you customize your content in the editor, you have the option of customizing the Permalink, categorizing it, and the ability to change your post’s status and visibility just to name a few.
Everyone’s editor will look slightly different depending on any features that might appear through the addition of a plugin. Our right-hand WordPress menu looks like this:
As you can see, there are quite a few options here, including an area to modify the visibility of your content, Yoast SEO options you can toggle open to edit that will appear if you download and activate the Yoast SEO plugin, the Permalink option which lets you edit your URL, the number of revisions you’ve made to your content, your content categories, and the tags feature. There’s also a Featured image section that you can toggle open to upload an image for your post, the Excerpt section if you want to write a manual excerpt, and finally you have the discussion section where you can turn comments and pingbacks on or off.
The best way to get familiar with the basics of your WordPress editor is to spend a few minutes tinkering with an unpublished draft and seeing what your changes look like as you go by using the Preview feature. That way, you feel comfortable enough to start publishing real content to your blog once you’re happy with your editing results.
Change The View
Did you know you can change your WordPress editor view to HTML? Once you right-click a block, you can choose Edit as HTML and you’ll be able to see your content edits in HTML.
How is this helpful? Well, once you turn a block element into HTML form, you’ll be able to see which attributes create what modifications. This can be helpful if you want to manually add HTML changes to certain blocks of text.
Get Comfortable With HTML Shortcodes
Once you get familiar with shortcodes, you’ll love how easy they make your life. A shortcode is a bit of code inside square brackets that you can place in any post or page to execute a function.
For example, once you add a shortcode to one of your posts through the WordPress editor, you can do things like automatically display image galleries, easily add a signup form, or embed a playlist into your post or page without needing to know anything about code.
If shortcodes sound convenient, that’s because they are. But only once you learn to use them. The best way to get familiar with and use shortcodes is by using a shortcodes plugin. This is where a plugin like Shortcodes Ultimate can come in handy.
Once you’ve uploaded and activated it on your WordPress dashboard, it’ll give you access to a long list of shortcodes you can insert into any part of your post.
Take note that you can insert your own shortcodes by finding it through the Add Block section by searching for “shortcode.” A block will appear where you can then insert your code.
However, once you’ve downloaded Shortcodes Ultimate, you can insert a shortcode by clicking on the bracket icon.
Then you’ll get a pop up with an extensive list of shortcodes you can insert and modify to your heart’s content.
Create Reusable Blocks
The beauty of using the WordPress editor is that you can create reusable blocks for settings that you tend to use in your content often.
For example, once you stylize a heading to be bold with blue letters, you can navigate to the three dots and click on Add to Reusable blocks. From there, you’ll be able to access your newly created block through the Reusable block section. To rename your blocks and keep them organized, simply navigate to Manage all reusable blocks to rename your blocks and save your changes.
Learn To Create Categories
Creating categories is a bit of a tangential function that compliments the editor. Once you create your content in the WordPress editor, on the left-hand menu, you can choose which of your categories you want your content filed under. But you can’t do that unless you learn to create categories first.
To do that, from your WordPress editor, navigate to the categories section on the left-hand menu and click on Add New Category.
From there, you can add a category name, a parent category, then save all your changes by clicking on Add New Category. Once you’ve added your list of categories, the next time you create content through the WordPress editor, you’ll be able to correctly organize it under the corresponding category.
This feature not only helps to keep your content organized, but it may also help with SEO, as it’ll help Google classify your content more efficiently.
Learn a Few Keyboard Shortcuts
Another feature that can save you time as you use your WordPress editor? Keyboard shortcuts. They can be huge time savers as you’re typing your content and adding images, doing research, and switching back and forth between tabs.
Some of the easiest shortcuts to learn that’ll come in handy when you’re using the editor are things like copy and paste, bolding text, editing links, selecting all your text, undo or redo.
WordPress does a great job of listing some of the most popular keyboard shortcuts in order you can see here.
However, here I’ve listed some of the most common ones. For Windows, make sure to use “Cntrl + the designated key” and for Mac its “Command + the designated key”:
- Copy is the letter “c”
- Paste is the letter “v”
- Select all is the letter “a”
- Edit link is the letter “k”
- Bold text is the letter “b”
- Undo is the letter “z”
- Redo is the letter “y”
I recommend you spend a few seconds playing around with some keyboard shortcuts so you can get a feel for what using them while you type is like. You’ll see how much time and tedious back and forth they save you.
Long-Term Strategies for the WordPress Editor
We walked through a few things you could do to tame your WordPress editor in a matter of a few minutes. But what can you do long-term to make sure you’re getting the most out of your editor?
Add the Yoast SEO Plugin
One of the easiest and best ways to improve your WordPress editor is to add the Yoast SEO plugin. With it, you can make sure your posts are optimized for search engines without doing that much more work.
Once you activate the plugin, it’ll plug in a designated section in your WordPress editor where you can enter a target keyword, edit and add a meta description, and check your post for an overall SEO “health score.”
The WordPress editor doesn’t really come with built-in SEO tools. But with a tool like Yoast SEO, whether you use its free version or upgrade to its premium features, you’ll be sure you’re giving your content the best chance to rank in search results.
Learn The Basics of HTML for Free
Learning the basics of HTML can help you understand and navigate the WordPress editor with a bit more ease. If you can’t modify your content with the Shortcodes Ultimate or Gutenberg Blocks plugin, you’ll want to learn some HTML to be able to modify your content into exactly what you’re looking for.
There are plenty of generous free resources out there that can help you do that without having to pay a penny. Sites like Code Academy, W3 Schools, or Udemy offer plenty of free guides and free courses that’ll help you get the hang of at least the basics.
Take A Coding Course
Now, if you’re really wanting to dive deep and see how far you can take your WordPress editor you can always take a coding course to strengthen your knowledge on the subject. Luckily for you, there are a ton of coding courses out there that can help you learn about coding from scratch, even if you don’t know what it means when you hear someone say “CSS.”
Course platforms like Skillshare offer courses at pretty reasonable prices to choose from. You can browse through each course to check out student reviews and even course outlines.
Learning to code isn’t only a great way to grow more comfortable with the WordPress editor, it’s also a skill worth having that you can put to use in lots of different ways that’ll take you beyond the WordPress editor.
The editor is only one of a slew of features WordPress offers through its user dashboard. After building tons of websites with WordPress ourselves, we know what it’s like to get through that initial learning curve. But don’t fear, we’re always coming up with ultimate guides on everything WordPress that’ll help you reach your website goals.
For instance, you can learn how to edit your WordPress footer here. If you’re still looking for the perfect blog theme, we put together a list of the best WordPress themes after hours of comparing and contrasting the best ones.
Want to learn what users actually do once they land on your WordPress site? Make sure to check out our list of the best heatmap plugins.