WordPress: Editing Website Content

Note: screenshots might differ from your view, depending on the width of your browser window, the browser and OS, and the version of WordPress you are using.

For trying/previewing changes, experimenting, and learning. A private staging web server provides added comfort and security, compared to making changes on the live-to-the-public web server.

  • Important When working on a staging server, if the changes are intended to go live upon approval, be certain you are working on an up-to-date copy of the public-facing site. It is often trivial for the site's web-hosting administrator to copy the staging server in its entirety to the public-facing server. If the changes had not been made on an identical copy of the public site — or if the pubic site has changed after it was copied to staging — it will not be safe to overwrite that site; therefore, all the changes tested on the staging server will have to be made again manually on the public server.
  • A staging server will have its own URL that is different from the address of the public site.
  • A login might be required to access a staging server. (This is separate from the WordPress admin login.)
    A staging serving might require login credentials before your web browser can display it.
  • Links should not be posted, anywhere, to addresses on a staging server. Legal and financial consequences sometimes are involved.

To reach the controls that permit editing website content, one must log in to the WordPress admin area — even if it is a staging server and you had to log in once already to reach it. The user's login credentials are typically the same on the staging server as on the public-facing server.

Unless there is a custom link, the WordPress login typically is found at:

  https://[[website's home URL]]/wp-login.php

Login credentials are required in order to access the WorxPress admin tools.

What you see in the admin area may differ considerably from site to site, and depending on your login credentials.

Overview: view of basic WordPress admin interface

In and Out of the Admin

In the window's upper-left corner, a link beside the WordPress logo gives access to the public view of the website, but with a (limited) admin menu across the top of each page.

WordPress admin link to public view of the website.

WordPress admin link to admin interface, shown only if the current website visitor is logged in to WordPress.

WordPress Admin Menus

There are two admin menus. The full-width one at the top of every page, if you are logged in to WordPress, provides quick access to some common functions. The vertical menu on the left provides access to every function to which your user credentials entitle you.

WordPress admin link to public view of the website.


The exact menu content varies for each website and each user's credentials. Note: for our clients, we employ the standard "best practice" of assigning admin privileges based on the task-specific needs of each user. They are not an indication of trust or authority.

Most WordPress content can be managed via the Posts, Pages, and Media menu items. These can be explored carefully and, unless a Publish or Update or other "saving" button is clicked, there should be no publicly discernable effect.

On most websites, Posts are more fleeting or time-based than Pages. Press releases and blog entries are common examples of posts. If it feels like a subtle distinction on your own WordPress website, that's a common sensation. Just use the menu's Posts and Pages links to compare the lists of each, and consult with your developer or site manager.

Caution: be judicious about editing content that already has been published, even on your own website and under your own copyright. There can be legal ramifications about which we cannot advise. In general, if new developments supplant something you published earlier, report it in a new announcement post instead of trying to change the historical version — but do feel free to add a link to the update on the older item. In some cases, it might be acceptable to un-publish an outdated item, subject to marketing, legal, and search-engine considerations.

For managing a site's photographs, PDF files, logos, and other audio-visual resources. This menu provides access to all such files that are under WordPress control. If a site's content references resources that are not in the WordPress database, they will not be listed or accessible in this way.

Caution: in general, it is best not to delete images in the Media library. It is possible that other websites, affiliates, news organizations, colleagues, etc. are linking to them even if you are no longer using them. Not only can that break their sites' content, it might deprive your own site of a related inbound link or other search-engine benefits.

The content of Pages is, compared to Posts, not so sequential. The relative chronology typically isn't as significant (to visitors, at least). Critically, their URLs do not change. How they are distinguished on your website is best learned by inspecting the lists of each, and by consulting with a site manager.

It is common to edit, and re-edit, the content of Pages as needed. Pages can be integrated into a website's information architecture by assigning their Parent attribute if one is relevant. However, that should be done in consultation with the developer or site manager.

Posts > All Posts
Lists all existing posts. Hover over items in that list to display admin links.

Pages > All Pages
Lists all existing pages. Hover over items in that list to display admin links.

Screenshot:  hover over items in the list of all posts in order to expose links available to the admin user.

Posts > Add New
Pages > Add New

Displays the empty post (or page) editor. Recommended: explore existing posts (or pages) for their settings, and sample the major "Block" settings — e.g., click in a normal paragraph and look at its block settings; click an image block and do the same, etc. — in order to integrate well with pre-existing site content and design. Ad hoc style changes are rarely advisable.

Screenshot: WordPress: annotated 'Gutenberg' blocks editor for a new, empty Post.

Global elements often are created in WordPress widgets. To edit them, either:

  • While looking at the public view of a page or post, use the top admin menu to choose Appearance > Widgets.
  • While looking at an admin page, use the left-side menu to choose Appearance > Widgets; or use the alternate Appearance > Customize > Widgets.

"Gutenberg" is the name of the most-recent — and now de facto — WordPress editor used for inserting and editing a page's or post's content. Also known as the block editor.

Questions About the Editing Functions?

  • Ask the site developer, or
  • Try this Gutenberg tutorial, or
  • Browse the results (some sponsored, for better or worse) of this well-structured (at the time of writing) Google query.

Good to Know & Explore

  • Undo & Redo
  • Save Draft — the system may auto-save, but feel free to use this liberally
  • Preview — see the current changes in a new tab (caution: after previewing, a common mistake is to click the Edit link on the preview instead of going back to the previous tab where the edit has not yet been saved/published)
  • Visibility — "Private" means only logged-in WordPress users can see the content; "Password Protected" allows anyone with the password to see the content; "Public" gives access to anyone who knows the URL or clicks a link to the content.
  • Publish — choose a time to make the content available, if not immediately. The Visibility settings will still apply.
  • Author — for corporate and other business websites, bylines often do not identify any specific individuals or are pseudonymous. Follow the convention established by previous content on the site unless well-advised discussion results in other policies.

Screenshot: highlights of the Gutenberg blocks editor in WordPress

WordPress: Editing Website Content
Article Name
WordPress: Editing Website Content
Cheatsheets notes: how to edit website content in the WordPress editor. Step-by-step for beginners, as a refresher, or for anyone new to the Gutenberg blocks editor.
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