The New WordPress Editor: Introduction & Basic Functions (with Screenshots & Step-By-Step Instructions)

Hi, friends. Happy New Year! πŸ™‚ Speaking of things that are new…

A new editor has come to WordPress, and while using it isn’t mandatory for now, we’ll all (presumably) be forced to switch at some point. [It’s actually a few months old but new to me.]

Anticipating that, I have been using the new editor for a couple weeks. At first, I hated it, because who likes change? Now that I’m used to it, I like it more than the old one (mostly).

Without further ado, let’s dive in.

The Foundational Difference Between the Old & New Editor

The old editor works like the average text document, such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs. A blog post is essentially one text document filled with various components. All the options for formatting are arranged across the top. If you want to write a list, insert a blockquote, make a hyperlink, add an image, etc., you find the option in that menu at the top.

The new editor divides a post in blocks. Each paragraph of text, lists, section headings, blockquotes, images, videos, etc.–every different piece of a post is its own block. Rather than the post being one text document filled with various components, the post is a combination of blocks with each block being one of those components.

With the new editor, a whole post is like a finished puzzle, and each part of the post is a piece of it.

Why Move to a Block Format?

Once you get used to it, adding components to the post is actually faster and easier with the block format. The real reason for this change, though, is search engine optimization. As we all hopefully know, search engines are bots, not sentient beings. When a post is organized into separate pieces, algorithms can more easily decipher all the different parts of a post, thus making it easier for bots to assess our posts when matching up searches with relevant articles.

What Are the Basic Differences When Creating a Post?

With the old editor, every option for adding or changing things appeared in the top menu. (Screenshot #1)

old wordpress editor
Screenshot #1

With the new editor, the old menu at the top is gone. Every time you hit “Enter” when creating a post, a plus sign pops up on the left side. If you are simply typing sentences, just type as if you’re using the old editor–every block is set to normal text by default. If you want a section heading, a list, an image, or anything besides normal text, you click the plus sign and pick whichever option you want. (Screenshots #2 & #3)

new wordpress editor
Screenshot #2–The plus sign pops up on the left. Suggestions pop up on the right.
new wordpress editor
Screenshot #3–This menu appears when I click the plus sign.

When you want to highlight, italicize, underline, etc. in a block of text, click the mouse somewhere in the text and a menu appears. (Screenshot #4)

new wordpress editor
Screenshot #4

The menu on the right side now has two tabs. If you click “Document,” you see a menu that’s extremely similar to the old one (scheduling, categories, tags, etc.). The tab “Block” applies to whatever block the mouse is clicked in. (Screenshots #5 & #6)

There is a small menu at the top that includes a plus sign icon, undo, re-do, a “Content Structure” icon with word count and other info, and a “Block Navigation” icon with a list of the different kinds of blocks in the post. (Screenshot #7)

Screenshot #7

I have more to say, but I’ll get around to it; these are just some tips to help you transition. Though switching is not mandatory yet, I recommend that everyone try to get ahead of the curve. Also, don’t we all want more search engine hits?

Thanks for reading! Let me know your thoughts or questions in the comments below.

65 comments

  1. I appreciate the tutorial, I really do. I tried to figure it out on my own and failed. I just don’t think in blocks. There’s no flow to typing that way. I’ve used WP for a lot of years before my current site. If they force the move, I’m reconsidering WP. I’ve told them that too. My blog is just a hobby. Search engines don’t matter to me in the slightest. I know… I’m old and in the minority. lol

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Aww, I hope you don’t leave WP. Aside from the occasional picture you add to a post, it shouldn’t be very different for you when typing a post, since the blocks are automatically set on normal text. You may not care about search engine hits, but there may be people out there searching things about Tolkien and Sherlock Holmes or whatnot who would enjoy your articles. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m hoping I won’t have to go anywhere. People have a way of finding me, so I’m not really worried. My problem lately is most people trying to find me seem to want only to spam my site. Fake followers, spambots… it’s a never-ending battle. The only way to fight it is to keep the circle small, which is my preference anyway. But I’ll play around with this new setup. Change is inevitable, but for something cosmetic like this, it should also be as optional as our site themes.

        Like

  2. Lily, thank you. I had hoped this would just go away. After blogging for eight years, I am happy with the way things are on WordPress, but I realize things do not remain the same anywhere here on earth. I will come back to this later. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I had been away for a while and came back to change. I LOVE IT! Thanks Lily and blessings to you! Just typing your name gives me joy and happiness because my baby girl’s name is Macaiah Lillian Smith, affectionately called Lilly!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for that. I haven’t got around to using it yet, but I’m sure your help will save me some time figuring it out.
    I’d like to reblog your post to my few followers, if you’re happy with that?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve been using it for quite some time now and I really like it. There are things they still need to iron out, in my opinion, but overall it’s easier to use and maneuver.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I hate change too! (Que the 2 yr old tantrum…lol) I’ve struggled with the blocks. I refused for a couple of posts and fought my way through finding and using the old editor. But, I realized WP most likely would force us all over to the dark side at some point. Lol! So, I’ve considered this a grace period for a sloooooow learning curve. Like you and some of the others commenting here, the more I use the blocks format the more I’m finding it easier to use and edit. Thanks for the informative tutorial!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you are finding it easier to use with time! That is usually how it goes when a website starts changing things and the users have to adapt. I also realized that I needed to quit dragging my feet and experiment before the change becomes permanent. I hope you find these tips useful! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope you find this post helpful, Matthew! Have you noticed a black box at the bottom of the page when you are making a new post? It reads something to the gist of “We have a new editor to help you level out your posts” and you click on the words “Try It” to get to the new editor.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t blame you because I ignored it for months, haha! Then I was like “My people need me. Not all heroes wear capes…some use new, scary editors and make tutorials.” Hope you find the post helpful, Penny!

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Hi Lily!
    First of all, Happy New Year! You have such an amazing blog!
    Thank you so much for doing this tutorial. I decided to test this new editor one time and I had such a hard time with it. You have such amazing clarity!! πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Grace! Happy New Year, and thank you so much for your sweet words! I am so glad that you found this post useful. I started looking through your posts on the ride to church this morning and plan to read some more. Love what I have read so far! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I love how you compare both editors. I was about to switch to the new editor some weeks ago when another blogger shared her experience with the editor. It wasn’t a happy experience πŸ˜‚ Her review dissuaded me from making the switch.

    But if the way you describe this new editor is how it really is, then I’ll be embracing this change very soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Obinna! I hope you’ll try it out soon. Change is always hard, but now that I’m used to it, I like the convenience of adding and changing things throughout the post vs. always having to scroll to the top menu.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Cathy, good question! When I click my mouse in a block of text, the menu on the right has two tabs–block and document. When I look at the block tab, one of the options is color settings. When I click that option, menus for changing background color and changing text color come up. After experimenting for a minute, I’ve found that I can’t highlight part of the text and change the color of part of the text, but I can change a block of text to any color. BTW, blocks of text are separated by pressing Enter. Let me know if this helps.

      Like

  9. Well that’s more than I found. I can’t recall now if I tried right-clicking inside a block – I’ll have another go. I tried a web search and found someone asking why they couldn’t highlight individual words or phrases to change, only blocks. Since I mostly want to highlight headings, rather than words, this was reassurance that there must be a way… but I couldn’t find it. But then WordPress is behaving strangely for me lately: hiding things that used to be visible and telling me my email isn’t valid when I try to follow new blogs, so maybe it doesn’t like me.
    (The answer, by the way, was that the developers hadn’t got around to colouring selections of words yet.).
    Thanks for the help

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ve realised why my headings don’t show a colour option. Apparently that option only shows up in Paragraph blocks – not headings. I’ve been told to try the classic block (whatever that it) – I’ll look into it.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I notice that using the new editor, one can, for example, set an image the full width of a screen, far beyond a theme’s natural page width. Likewise, image galleries can be set much wider than would be possible using the former editor. However, such images and galleries continue to be present in editing mode while actually not appearing in viewing mode. Seems the additional functionality of the new editor cannot override the original theme constraints. Yet while some themes appear to let one set wider image widths (although they disappear) others do not. Does the new editor work for all and any themes, or just certain ones? If the latter is the case how does one know which is which? A puzzlement.

    Like

  12. It’s interesting to find out that blocks are better for SEO. I had no idea.

    If my post is text only with no gimmicks – Should I post in a single block, or should I put every paragraph in a separate block?

    Also, do you know how to color only certain words in a block? I tried and it colors the whole block.

    Like

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