Hello World! Moving beyond your first post on your WordPress website is going to take a little familiarity with the Add New Post screen. It’s pretty straightforward, but if you’re like me then there are always features that escape your attention even though they’re right under your nose. Even if you’re a journeyman WordPress blogger, there may be some features you’ve gotten so used to seeing that they are lost in familiarity.
This week’s WP Ninja post is a meta-post, a post looking at posting if you will. Follow along and we’ll detail the WordPress Add New Post screen, learn how to make the most of every post, and maybe even discover something new. Take a look!
Add New Post Screen, WordPress 4.3.1
You see above the Add New Post screen for WordPress 4.3.1 in its default form from a fresh install. We’ll break this down into 4 zones which you see highlighted in the screenshot: Screen Options (dark blue), Content (red), Publish (green), and Format/Categories/Tags/Featured Image (light blue). If you’re colorblind or being retro with a b&w monitor, there will be screenshots with each section so no worries! 🙂
If you don’t like the layout or composition of the Add New Post screen, here’s where you can do something about it. Each of these elements correspond to a feature of the Add New Post screen and can be toggled to remove or add them from view on the screen. The ones that are already checked are present on your screen and we’ll take a look at those when we get to their section below. There are a five that are not. We’ll look at them in a sec. It’s worth noting here that if you’re unhappy with where something appears on your screen, you can snag the top of the element with your mouse and drag and drop it into a place that you’re happier with!
- Excerpt: A brief summary or teaser of your article. If you have an excerpt, you can choose to present it in places like search results and archive descriptions..
- Trackbacks: In WordPress websites, any time your post is linked a pingback notification will let you know about it. That feature may be lacking in lesser blogging websites, but you can still make up the difference by creating a trackback that will pick up their slack.
- Discussion: Lets you toggle comments and trackbacks on or off.
- Slug: Slugs are the lowercase words separated by dashes that you often see in urls. It’s usually some iteration of the post title. You can change the slug in your post’s url with this element, but if you’re going to do that then set it once and leave it so that your post’s address isn’t constantly changing.
- Author: At the end of each published post, the author will be listed. You can manually change who is credited with the post here. If you don’t see the person’s name you want here, go to Users in the WordPress dashboard and change their role to Author.
Here be the meat and potatoes of your post. Some of it’s dead obvious: your title goes in the little box, your post’s body goes in the big box. Add Media lets you upload media, adjust its size and position in your post, and caption it. The little icons over the big box are your standard rich text editor features. But… there’s a key icon there that a lot of people overlook their first few times in the editor. I did! This guy:
The Toolbar Toggle. It opens another whole row of options. Most of them are just more rich text editor features, but a couple of them warrant closer scrutiny:
- The “Paragraph” dropdown list gives you heading options for section headers within the body of your post. The post title is always defaulted to Heading 1. Even though you have the option to set content as Heading 1, don’t do it. It messes with the HTML structure of your post and can cause problems down the road if you choose to style your posts.
- Paste as Text: I draft my articles in Google Docs and copy/paste them into the Add New Post screen. Formatting in one medium like Google Docs doesn’t always play well with formatting in a second medium like the WordPress Add New Post editor. Click this icon before you paste text in, and it will remove all formatting and convert to plain text for you. You can then reformat in the editor.
On the topic of text, if you want to see the HTML inserted by using the rich text editor icons like bold, italic, etc, you can view your post with these tags visible by toggling from “visual” to “text” in the upper right hand corner. If you want to add HTML manually to your post, it must be done using this view.
Two last little things for this section:
- As you type, you’ll notice that WordPress saves your post periodically as a draft, or you may save manually in the Publish box. After a draft of your post is created, a permalink url is automatically generated. You can view and change that permalink immediately below your post title.
- The Custom Fields element allows you to add metadata (extra related information) to your posts. It can be somewhat tricky to get custom post meta to display. We have a step-by-step guide on how to do this if you’re interested.
The publish box gives you control of the status and accessibility of the post. Let’s take it from the top down:
- Save Draft (or Save as Pending, depending on your setting): saves the post to the All Posts screen with a notation to its state (Draft or Pending).
- Preview: generates a preview page that is an exact replica of the page as it will look live. I keep a preview page open as I migrate my articles from Google Docs to the Add New Post screen, and refresh it periodically to make certain I like the changes that I’ve made.
- Status: You can toggle this between Draft or Pending Review. The status of the post when viewed on the All Posts screen will be updated to reflect this setting. Handy if you have an editor that will be reviewing your posts prior to publishing.
- Visibility: this can be toggled between Public, Password Protected, and Private. Public can be viewed by anyone, and you have the option to make it a “sticky” post that will stay on the front page even as new posts are published after it. Password Protected is just that, and Private is viewable only by you. Note that both can still be viewed freely by anyone with Editor or Admin roles.
- Publish Immediately: By default, when you hit the big blue Publish button, your post publishes immediately. You can schedule the post to be published at a specified time in the future by clicking Edit here. The Publish icon will change to Schedule to reflect this change.
Format, Categories, Tags, and Featured Images
This is a feature of posting that’s tied directly to your theme. For themes that support post formatting, you can assign a specific format from the list and the visuals of your published post will reflect that choice. Any kind of content that you’d publish in a normal post can be formatted in this way. Check out this list or your individual theme’s product page to see if and which formats are supported!
Posts can be labeled with a category- usually just one- that describes them and fits a particular interest area. Examples could be Tutorials, Reviews, Opinion, and News. Your readers can search your site by categories for related articles.
Tags can be used as a more specific version of a category, or can be simple descriptors. Posts with similar tags are displayed together when a user clicks one of the tags.
Featured Images are thumbnails that will be displayed along with your post title where possible. It’s meant as an added visual element to represent your post.
That’s the WordPress Add New Post/Post Editing page in a nutshell. There are so, so many plugins that add more to this page, like Yoast SEO, Social Warfare, and others. After you get comfortable with the vanilla functionality, plugins that extend your options are definitely something you should investigate. Until then, the default WordPress experience is still one of the best for expressing yourself through your blog or website in your manner of preference. Fun, professional, it will do it all and do it well. If you have anything you’d like to ask or add, please feel free to say so in the comments below!