What is a post and what is a page?
Posts and pages are central parts of a WordPress site. First, let’s clarify some terminology.
WordPress posts are entries or articles which have these special characteristics:
- They’re dated and usually presented in reverse chronological order on the website
- They can be organized by applying categories and tags
- They can include a comments section after the article, allowing readers to publish their reactions
- They’re included in the site’s RSS feeds.
WordPress pages normally have none of the above characteristics. Instead, they’re entries/articles which are generally static information, for which the date isn’t important. Pages have some special attributes of their own: they can be assigned page templates, and they can be organized hierarchically.
Technically, a WordPress page is a type of WordPress post. Posts came first in WordPress, and are the basic unit of content. WordPress pages were added later as a special type of post for static information.
Posts may seem like a blog-specific feature, but they’re actually very useful and powerful on non-blog sites as well because they can be organized and displayed in lots of ways based on dates, categories and tags, author, and more.
Creating a New Post
Creating a new post is as simple as this set of steps:
- In the Admin, click Posts > Add New. This opens the Add New Post screen.
- Near the top, type a Title for the Post.
- In the Post Editing box, type or paste your content.
- On the right, click Publish.
That will create a simple post. But there are a number of other fields and settings which can be associated with the post.
The Add New Post screen
Like a lot of Administration screens, the Add New Post screen has Screen Options, which you get to by clicking the hanging tab in the upper right. There you can determine which fields and options are displayed for your use on the Add New Post screen. You may want to enable them all now so that you can familiarize yourself with them. Later, you can hide the ones you don’t have any current use for.
In addition to the Title and Post Content, these other settings and options are available:
- Permalink: This field, which appears as soon as a post is saved, shows the permanent link that will be used as this post’s URL (web address). WordPress creates a slug — a simplified post name — based on the title you give the post. The slug can be edited by clicking the Edit button next to the Permalink. Whether the slug is used in your permalink is dependent upon the settings you’ve made on the main Settings > Permalinks screen. See Resources for more information about Permalinks.
- A teaser is a short text excerpt or text summary of an article, designed to draw the reader in so that he clicks to read the whole article. WordPress sites often use text teasers on screens where several posts are displayed, such as the Home page or an Archive (collection of posts) page. An excerpt, a short piece of text from the article, is often used as a teaser.
- Excerpt: Depending upon how a theme is coded, the website page which displays several of your most recent Posts may display them as teasers, short excerpts designed to draw in the reader. If your theme does that, you can fill in this Excerpt field in order to determine exactly what will appear as the post teaser. An added benefit is that HTML code can be used in the Excerpt field, if you like, whereas teasers are otherwise straight unformatted text. If you don’t fill in this field, WordPress will automatically take the first 55 words of the post and use that as a teaser, stripping out any formatting. A third possibility is to use the “More tag” to define a teaser; see below.
- Send Trackbacks: Outdated and not recommended. This gives you the option to notify certain blog systems that you have linked to them, using the outdated trackbacks system. If you’re a regular blogger and this type of notification is important to you, use pingbacks instead.
- Custom Fields: When a theme has set them up, this allows the post author to add fields to the post.
- Discussion: This panel allows you to enable or disable comments for this post, and to enable or disable pingbacks and trackbacks for this post. These settings will override the global settings on the Settings > Discussion screen. Please see the Lesson on Blog Comments for detailed information.
- Comments: This panel allows you to write a comment to be posted below the post on the website.
- Slug: The post slug is a simplified name for the post, usually derived from the actual post title, consisting only of lowercase words and hyphens. When you’ve made a Custom Permalink setting under Settings > Permalinks, the post slug will be used as part of the post’s permanent, user-friendly URL.
- Author: This panel allows you to set the post’s author.
- Formats: When the theme supports the feature called Post Formats, this panel will offer the option of choosing among them.
- Categories: Lets you assign categories to the post.
- Tags: Lets you assign tags to the post.
- Featured Image: Here you can choose an image to be used to represent this post, when the theme supports this. The image may be shown as a thumbnail or a much larger image, depending upon the theme.
- Revisions: “A time machine for your posts”, as the WordPress Codex says. See below for more on the Revisions system.
The Edit Post screen
Once a post has been created and saved, the Add New Post screen becomes the Edit Post screen. The Edit Post screen is also what you’ll see if and when you return to edit this post in the future. The two screens are almost identical.
The Visual Editor
The Visual Editor is what we call the word-processor-like feature of the Add New Post and Edit Post screens, consisting of one or two rows of formatting buttons. It’s a bit rudimentary compared with an actual desktop word processor, but with a little practice you’ll be able to turn out nicely-formatted articles.
The Visual tab and the Text tab
The first thing to understand about the Visual Editor are its two tabs, located to the right of the formatting buttons: Visual and Text. Unless you’re comfortable with HTML, you’ll want to spend almost all of your time on the Visual tab.
On the Visual tab, you’ll see a rough approximation of the way your article will look on the website. Depending upon the content, you’ll see headings, paragraphs, bold, italic, lists, etc., as what they are. Images and embedded media will be represented there. But you won’t see what your post will really look like on the website itself until you preview or publish it. This is because the theme normally applies lots of its own styling.
So the Visual tab provides a rough view to help you see how you’re formatting your post. For most people starting out with WordPress, this is where you want to work.
The Text tab is a modified code view. If you you have a good understanding of HTML, it can be helpful to switch to the Text tab to fine-tune something. Sadly, it doesn’t show the actual HTML code in full either.
Be sure to check which tab you’re on when you’re working on a post.
The Visual tab’s formatting buttons
On the Visual tab, you should see at least one row of formatting buttons. If you only see one row, then click the Toolbar Toggle button, which reveals the second row of formatting buttons.
Most of the formatting buttons should be familiar to anyone who has used a word processor, and are used in the same way. The easiest way to apply formatting is to first select the text you want to format, and then click the button.
- bold, italic, strikethrough and underline
- add horizontal line
- align left, center or right
- add or remove links
- paragraphs and headings
- full justification
- text color
- remove formatting
A few formatting buttons deserve special explanation.
- Insert More tag: The More tag provides a way to excerpt a portion of text from he beginning of a post as a teaser, that short chunk of text often displayed on a WordPress Home page or Archive (collection of posts) page. Use this button to insert the More tag into a post at the point where you’d like to end its teaser. All text before the More tag will be displayed, followed by a link inviting the reader to click and read the rest.
- Distraction-free writing: This feature is just what it sounds like. Since WordPress 3.9, the button is located on the extreme far right in the button bar. Clicking it causes everything on the screen to fade out except for the bare necessities of writing. It’s easy to switch back and forth as needed. WordPress 4.1 improved the interface and functionality significantly.
- Paste as Plain Text: As of WordPress 3.9, text copied from a word processor document can be simply pasted into the Editor, and will have all or most of its formatting code stripped out. Clicking the Paste as Plain Text button before you paste the text will definitely strip out all formatting other than paragraph breaks.
As of WordPress 3.9, images and other attachments can be added to a post or page by simply dragging-and-dropping them into the editing area. Images can also still be added by clicking the Add Media button at the top of the Visual Editor. We go over this in detail in the Using Images lesson.
WordPress allows you to assign one particular image to represent the post overall, from the Featured Image panel which (if enabled in Screen Options) appears on the Add New Post and Edit Post screens. Themes usually display the Featured Image in some prominent position, either as small thumbnails or even much larger-size images. This is covered in detail in the Using Images lesson.
Publishing a post
As soon as you click the Publish button, your new post will be visible on the front-end website. After that, the button says Update.
But there are some other useful publishing options, all in the Publish panel.
Preview Changes gives you just that, a preview of the post.
Status: There are three “publication states” available here. By default, a post is in the Published state, and will be visible on the website as soon as the Publish button is clicked. Pending Review means that the post is waiting for approval by an Editor or Administrator. Draft means that the post is saved, but not published. Choose a Status, and then Save/Update.
Visibility provides three more options, which apply to the post once it is published. A Public post will be visible to everybody. A Password-protected post is visible to anybody who provides the password you create here. A Private post is visible only to you and other Editors and Admins.
TIP: Scheduling publication. You can schedule a post to “publish itself” on a future date at a specific time, using the Edit link next to Publish in the Publish panel.
Publish/ed: “immediately” is the default — when the Publish button is pressed, the post will be live and visible on the website, unless modified by the above Status and Visibility settings. Clicking Edit allows you to set a date for publication. You can use this to schedule a post; it will automatically be live at the exact time you’ve scheduled.
Revisions: If there are two or more post revisions saved, clicking Browse here will take you to the Compare Revisions screen.
This WordPress feature has recently been greatly expanded, and can be a great help in editing complex text documents.
WordPress saves a record of each saved draft or published update, including its own every-15-second Autosaves.
There are several ways to get to the Compare Revisions screen:
- In the Publish panel, click Browse
- In the Revisions panel — enable it from Screen Options if necessary — click any revision’s link.
On the Compare Revisions screen, you can view all revisions for this post, scrolling through them using the slider or Previous/Next buttons. The revision you’re considering restoring is shown on the right.
Color highlighting shows what was changed, added or removed from one revision to another.
You can also compare any two or more revisions side-by-side by checking the appropriate checkbox near the top.
If you like, click Restore This Revision to make the version on the right into the current saved post.
If you don’t want to restore any revision, just click Return to Post Editor, or the post’s name, at the very top of the screen.
The Posts Screen
The Posts screen displays a list of all existing posts so that they can be viewed, edited, deleted.
Posts are listed in a table with columns of information for each post. Screen Options, accessed from the top-right hanging tab, allow you to choose which columns are shown.
At the top of the list, filters and a search field make it easy to find posts.
Beneath each post’s title are links for editing, viewing, or trashing the post. The Edit link takes you to the Edit Post screen. The Quick Edit link takes you to a panel of selected items to edit quickly. The Trash link moves the post to the Trash (where it is retained until deleted), and the View link opens the post in the front-end website.
Some post information can be bulk-edited. To bulk-edit, select the checkboxes for the posts and then choose Bulk Edit > Edit and click Apply. This opens the Bulk Edit panel, where you can make changes and click Update to save them.
So those are the essentials of creating and publishing WordPress posts.