Writing New Content With The WordPress Editor, Part Two: The Sidebar

This is a continuation of our first article on writing new content with the WordPress editor, where we focus on the options available to you on the right sidebar. Once again, we’ll assume we’re writing a Post, but we’ll make notes for differences between Posts and Pages.

Writing Drafts, Publishing & Who Sees Your Content:

Editing WordPress Content SideBar Publish
These controls will allow you to write your content before making it visible, and then determine who sees your amazing new article

This is the area where you’ll be able to control the visibility of your content. You can see the Save Draft button immediately, allowing you to quickly save your Page or Post as a Draft until you’re ready to share it with the world. You’ll also be able to hit the Preview button to quickly open a new tab and see the content as it will appear to your users.

The Status will automatically update from Draft to Published when it’s live. Clicking Edit will allow you to change that back to a draft if need be. You may also see “Pending Review”, although this will be unnecessary for most users. Some user types are restricted from sharing content until an Editor or Administrator comes along and approves the content. This is more common when you have employees or third parties writing content for you, but you don’t want to immediately allow them to share the information before reviewing it.

Visibility allows you to control who sees your content. Most content will be left as the default “Public” setting, but you have the option to password protect pages, or restrict the page to “Private”. Only users who are logged in as Editors or Administrators will be able to view private pages. This can be useful if you want to set up an internal resource for your staff, as an example.

If you’d like to schedule an article to appear later, you can change the “Publish immediately” default to a future time and date. Be sure to check that your web host is using the same timezone as you, or adjust accordingly!  

The Readability and SEO results are from our handy SEO tool, which we learned about in the previous section. This is an overall rating, and informational only. Again, take this rating with a grain of salt, as it’s a guide, not a strict rule. If you aren’t happy with the rating, we suggest you look at the suggestions Yoast SEO offers at the bottom. If you need a reminder, see the SEO section of our previous article on editing content.

Once you’re finished with everything, you have the option to delete the page by clicking Move to Trash, or clicking Publish to make your content live. Once the article is published, the Publish button will say “Update” – click this to save any changes you make, if there are any edits after the fact. WordPress automatically makes backups on a timed basis while you work with the window open, but do not rely on that – it won’t apply the changes to the live article until you click Publish/Update.

Changing The Way Your Content Is Displayed:

Editing WordPress Content SideBar Format

The Format section allows you to adjust how your content gets displayed in your website’s theme. The results depend on how each WordPress theme leverages this feature, so we suggest you try it yourself!

The default “Standard” option is likely to be your most common use for most types of content, but again, we suggest you try them out to see how you can leverage your theme for different types of content.

Remember: If your website is live and customer-facing, you probably want to experiment with this using the Preview mode, or by setting the Post to Private first!


Editing WordPress Content SideBar Post Categories
Your Post will automatically appear in areas of your website configured to show that topic, usually via a menu item.

We discussed this in another article, clarifying the differences between a Page & a Post. Categories are best thought of as “Topics”, or how you intend to organize your content. Your Post will automatically appear in any of the checked categories in this list.

You can also add new Category items to your list from here if you find your current system needs improvement, or you’d like to re-organize. Once you click “Add New Category”, you can simply type in the name in the first field. If this new Category belongs as a sub-category to another topic, you can select the Parent Category from the dropdown menu just below that. If you have some complicated re-organizing to do, we suggest going to the Posts -> Categories area in your left sidebar instead.

Editing WordPress Content Sidebar Page Order
Pages won’t have categories. You can sort them with the Order value, lowest value at the top, and larger numbers displayed further down.

Note that Posts that belong to a Category will be listed by their Publish date/time by default. As Pages are meant for one-off material, they don’t have Categories, although you’ll see a very simple replacement called “Order”, where 0 appears first, and Pages with larger Order numbers are sorted further down. Negative numbers work as well, appearing above 0, although we suggest keeping your sorting system simple and more intuitive by starting at 0 and counting up.


Editing WordPress Content Sidebar TagsTags are another method to sort your content, typically by specific subjects in the content. This is less about organizing your information on the website, and more about enabling users to search for content on that subject, both via your website and Google.

There is no limit to the number of tags you can use, but we recommend keeping it simple. Tags are optional, but listing a few common search words a user may decide to use to find this kind of content can be very helpful.

You can also view the most commonly used Tags by clicking the link to expand the box, displaying Tags you’ve used in the past. This will help you organize your content consistently, and focus on SEO keywords that may be important to you.

Featured Image:

Like the Format item in the sidebar, this is a theme dependent feature. Your theme may allow for an image, representative of your content, to appear in category listings, along with the “Read More” text we discussed in Part One of the Writing New Content guide. This feature allows you to display Thumbnails, or teaser images when the content is listed.

Editing WordPress Content Sidebar Featured Image

Again, we suggest you try this out on a Post you’ve set to private, as the effects will depend on your WordPress theme. As with Tags & Format, this feature is optional, and entirely up to you how you’d like to leverage it. If left empty, your WordPress Theme will either display a default image, or nothing, depending on its configuration and how it was written to support Featured Images.

That’s It! We’re Done!

Wow, that was a ton of information! We hope you have a much better idea of how WordPress allows you to edit content, and you learned a few things. Are there any other features we missed? What did you think of the guide? If anything is unclear, or doesn’t seem to behave the same way we describe, by all means, contact us with your questions, or comment below.

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