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Jake Paris

in Maine, in 2024

WordPress Beginner’s Guide

I made this for a client, but others who are just starting might find it useful.

What is WordPress?

WordPress is a popular content management system. It began as blog publishing software and is perhaps still best known as such.  It is used by over a million websites, including notables such as Yahoo, CNN, Flickr, and the Wall Street Journal. You can learn more at

Log In

You can log in to make changes to the website by appending /wp-admin to your website domain name. For example,

Editing Pages

Clicking “Pages” in the left menu will bring you to a list of pages you have permission to edit. Click on a page title (or underneath the title on “Edit”) to edit it.  If you are logged in, the public pages will also display a “edit this page” link.

The Editor

Much of the text editor will be familiar. It is worth noting a couple of things: To add (or take away) a hyperlink, use the  buttons. To show more formatting buttons, click .

Insert Images

To insert an image into your page, click the first button in the “upload/insert button row”. Click “Select Files”, choose your image(s) to upload, and it will be uploaded.  After the progress bar reaches 100%, you will be given options to set for the image.  In many cases, the only options you will need to change are alignment and size.

  1. Title Setting a descriptive title is useful for keeping your images organized. This is the only field that is required.
  2. Alternate Text This is the text that will be displayed if the image cannot be, for some reason. For accessibility reasons, alternate text should always be specified. A simple description of the image or it’s purpose is best
  3. Caption unused in this installation.
  4. Description Again, this is useful mostly for keeping organizing, but it can also be helpful when searching for a specific image.
  5. Link URL This specifies if you want your picture to link to something. “File url” will link the picture to the full-size version of itself. “Post url” will link the picture to a website page displaying only the picture. You can also leave it blank or manually enter a web address.
  6. Alignment Setting this to “none” will cause the image to float by itself in the middle of the page. Using “left” or “right” will make the text bump up around the image like you may find in a newspaper or magazine.
  7. Size Using a smaller size than “Full Size” will make the page load faster. You can make the image smaller later in the editor box, but pick a size here which is as close to what you need as possible.
  8. Use as Featured Image This causes the image to be used as the thumbnail when the page/post is displayed on the home page highlights, in the search results, and other lists of page.
  9. Insert Into Post/Save All Changes “Insert into Post” will insert the image into the page, at the location of the cursor, while “Save All Changes” will simply save the image information to the database for later use.

Reuse an Image that was Previously Uploaded

Reusing an image is a good idea to save disk space. You can also use this method to access an image that was uploaded at some other point but never used.
Click the first “Upload” button as if you are going to upload a new image, but when the popup box displays, click “Media Library” at the very top of the box.  To use an image, click “show” on the left, and then follow the same directions as above, being sure to end with “Insert Into Post”.

Insert Media Links (e.g. PDF file)

To insert a link to a pdf file (or any other media file), use the star button in the “Upload/Insert” button row.  Upload your file following the instructions for Uploading an Image above. The difference is that whatever text is in the Title field will be your link text. You also will want to be sure to click the File url button so the link will point to the file.

Save a Revision

Page revisions can be saved for later without being published. In order to do this, click the “edit” button next to the published date.

You can either schedule your revision to automatically happen on a certain date, or to just continue working later, simply set the date for sometime in the future. When you are ready to publish your changes, change the date back.
To access a saved revision at a later time, navigate the page edit screen. At the bottom of the edit screen, find the Revisions box. Click on the revision to continue editing it, publish it immediately, or compare it with the original.

Page Parents

Setting the “Parent” of a page determines where it will live in the site hierarchy. For example, setting the “Banana” page’s parent to “Fruit” will cause “Banana” to be a subpage on the “Fruit” page.

Page Status/Visibility

The default page status is Public, but there are a couple of other options available. Setting the page to “Password Protected” will require a password in order to view the content.  When this option is set, the editor will allow you to set a page-specific password.  A “Private” page will only be accessible to site administrators and will not show up in a site search. Setting a page’s status to “private” can be a useful way to save a page for later use. For example, you may wish to mark a seasonal Snowplow page “private” until next winter.

Delete Page

To delete a page, click on Trash from the page index listing or Move to Trash from the page’s edit screen. Pages moved to the trash will stay there indefinitely and can be recovered, or permanently deleted. To access pages in the trash, look underneath the “Pages” title on the page index. There is a link to the trash next to “published”.

Create New Page

To create a new page, click the “Add New” button (see image above) or choose “Add New” from the left menu under Pages. Use the “SaveDraft” button to save your page for later publishing to the site, or click “Publish” to make the page appear immediately on the website. Clicking the edit link next to “Publish Immediately” will give you the option to schedule your page for a future date.

Pages vs. Posts

What is the difference? Posts are used for pieces of information of a transitory nature. Examples would be news items, weather alerts, snow closings, updates to construction projects. Posts do not live in the sitemap or the page menu(not usually, but technically possible). They will get pushed “further down the list” as new posts take their place. Older posts still exist on the site (unless they are explicitely deleted), but are not prominent.  Pages are for information that will be as important next year as it is today.  Staff Directories, Town Ordinances, and Street Maps are good examples of pages.

Many of the editing instructions above are applicable to both pages and posts.  There are some differences when creating/editing a post however.

Post Categories
Post categories are a way of placing posts in specific locations around the site, as well as grouping them by topic. Posts in the Highlights category will show up in the center column of the homepage. News posts will show up in the right sidebar. Posts can have multiple categories (or none) as well. A post without a category will only show up in site searches and if linked to from another location (for example if the Town Clerk put a link on their page to a post describing this year’s election results).

Featured Images

You can set the “featured image” for a post at the bottom right of the editor screen. Setting this is very similar to inserting an image (see above). The featured image is the thumbnail which shows next to an excerpt in the highlights section, in search results, on the news index page, etc. Adding a featured image to a post adds visual appeal to your website and helps lengthen a reader’s attention span.

Your User Information

You can change your password by clicking on Profile in the left menu. The New Password form is at the very bottom of the screen. Try to create a password of at least “Medium” strength (by the password meter in that form).