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WordPress Block Editor Tips You Need to Know

WordPress Block Editor
Photo: kinsta.com

The sudden launch of the WordPress block editor caught many by surprise. Those in the know realized that the swap was inevitable. As we’ve talked about before, WordPress blocks are the future of the platform. However, many were left scrambling to discover how this new system works in time to keep their websites going.

Even months after the swap to the WordPress block editor-style, questions still remain. This new system may be fantastic, but WordPress fell short when it came to explaining it all. So many are left exploring the possibilities even when they should feel comfortable with this new kind of editor.

That’s certainly annoying, but there is good news. It turns out that many of the best features of this new editor have been discovered. Even better, most of them are easy to use. It’s really just a matter of knowing where to look in the new interface.

Here are some WordPress block editor tips that will help you access the new editors’ best features and get the most out of its abilities.

Carefully Consider Line Breaks

This is more of a general WordPress block editor tip, but it’s something that will help you throughout.

In the block editor, line breaks create new blocks. That means new paragraphs are new blocks, but it also means videos, embeds, and tables are blocks as well. As we’ll soon discuss. Considering where you create new blocks matters because of the ways you’re able to interact with each block. Create a new block in the wrong place, and you may accidentally limit your options.

The point is that you’ll need to carefully consider each line break and ensure that content you want to be in the same block is in the same block..

Understand What Document Settings Can Do for You

Over the next two WordPress block editor tips, we’re going to be talking about two different kinds of settings: Document Settings and Block Settings.

When you’re looking at your entire post, the setting bar to the right defaults to “Document.” This section contains options and information related to the entire document. It’s similar to the old sidebar in that respect. It even features some of the same old options (such as Featured Image and Tags). It just compiles that information in a more concise way.

You won’t rely on this section in its basic form too much, but it’s important to scroll through it before you publish a post to ensure that everything is right.

Explore the Settings for Each Block

This is one of the most important WordPress block editor features that is easy to miss your first time around.

While the sidebar to the right of your document defaults to “Document” settings, it also features a tab for “Block” settings. You just have to swap tabs in order to change settings. However, it’s important to realize that each block has its own settings. That means that the setting options in this area will change based on which block you’re currently selecting.

It’s vital to check the settings options for each different kind of block in your article. You’d be amazed by what you can miss by not exploring this area.

Search for Pre-Built Blocks

One of the most annoying things about the WordPress block editor is how it doesn’t show you its hand right off the bat. By that, we mean that many of the editor’s best features aren’t readily available.

That’s certainly true of blocks. Many of the default WordPress block types aren’t actually default. You’ve got to search for them in the search bar included within the editor. Once you know what to look for, you can add a variety of ready-to-go blocks to your toolbar.

Don’t know what blocks you should be looking for? Check out our post regarding some of the best default WordPress blocks that the service currently offers.

Check out WordPress Block Editor Plugins

We love plugins. They’re one of the best ways to expand the functionality of your website. From online stores to enhanced security, WordPress plugins can do just about everything.

It just makes sense, then, that there are plugins designed specifically for the WordPress block editor. While various such plugins exist, the ones that you really need to know about are those that add more block types to your website. It’s possible to get these blocks elsewhere (or even make your own), but this is one of the easiest ways to access them.

So which plugins should you download? Again, there’s no shortage of options, but these are the ones that we highly recommend:

Atomic Blocks – A collection of new blocks and other missing features
Stackable – Another collection of blocks featuring some of our favorite options
Kadence Blocks – Along with an expanded collection of blocks, this plugin lets you access new design elements.
Block Gallery – This is practically a must-have plugin for anyone who wants to access entirely new photo options in the block editor.

Learn to Love Columns

Simply put, it wasn’t easy to create columns in WordPress “Classic.” The formatting was a nightmare and even the best plugins only helped so much. This led many to ignore the option entirely.

Thankfully, WordPress block editor finally makes columns viable. All you have to do is insert a columns block in your article. If it isn’t available by default, just search for the columns block in the search bar. From there, you just need to fill in the requested information in order to create columns.

Why is this a big deal? For one thing, columns are a great way to display concise information. Furthermore, they’re still something of a formatting novelty. That means that your site will instantly stand out just because you feature them.

Embed Through URL, Not the Embed Code

Here is one of those strange changes that WordPress never really explains. Naturally, that creates a lot of confusion for those using the WordPress block editor.

In the old days, you had to use an embed code to insert everything from tweets to YouTube videos. Now, though, we have blocks for nearly every form of popular online media. When using one of these blocks, you just need to insert the URL of the media and not the embed code.

Does that make old embed codes useless? Not exactly. You can still use them in the Classic editor and other code-based formats. However, you don’t lose any functionality by using media blocks, so you’re really better off taking advantage of this feature.

Check Out HTML Blocks

Speaking of HTML, you may be wondering where it’s at in the WordPress block editor. Well, it does exist. However, most users will find that the blocks replace most of the old HTML functionality.

There is one exception to that general rule, though. One of the pre-set blocks in the block editor lets you create HTML blocks. This is basically where you enter the old HTML code you would have used in previous versions of WordPress.

Even if you don’t know HTML, you can use this block to help use other people’s custom code creations. Definitely keep this option in mind if you feel like you’re looking for a kind of block that you just can’t find.

Try Out The Fixed Toolbar

One of the most immediately noticeable differences between the WordPress block editor and the classic mode is the lack of a toolbar. It used to be that the toolbar contains everything you needed. Now, those features are spread throughout the blocks.

However, there is a way to get the toolbar back. At the top of the block editor, you should see three dots. This settings menu will present you with an option for a unified toolbar. Choosing this option will install a modified version of the classic toolbar within the new editor.

Is it worth it? The answer there will vary from person to person. However, our general feeling is that you’ll soon learn you don’t really need this feature. That said, it’s nice to have.

View the New Keyboard Shortcuts

Listing and describing all of the WordPress block editor shortcuts would be an effort. There are a ton of them and they make using the editor much easier and far more enjoyable.

The good news is that you don’t need a third-party reference for these shortcuts. By clicking the three dots on the top right of the block editor, you can access a list of keyboard shortcuts. This list will show you some of the most common shortcuts available in this editor.

From what we can tell, this doesn’t seem to be a complete list of shortcut options. However, it does offer a selection of most of the shortcuts that most users will ever need.

Save (and Use) Reusable Blocks

Welcome to one of our absolute favorite WordPress block editor tips. This is the one that users of all levels will want to utilize.

If you’ve created a new block (or block template) you want to be able to quickly access again, there’s a way to do that. You just need to choose the block you want to create and click on that same three dots settings button found on the top right. From there, you should see an option to create a reusable block. Choose that option, name the block, and you should be able to quickly access it from the block menu.

This is the one feature that lets you truly grow the block editor over time. Be sure to not ignore it.

Be Sure to Use the Advanced Preview Button

The WordPress classic editor did feature a preview button. However, it was quite bad. That might actually be selling it short. It was just north of being unusable for the purposes of actually previewing your finished article.

If you’ve gotten in the habit of ignoring the preview button, it’s time to break it. The WordPress block editor preview button shows you an accurate preview of your custom post. This is a fantastic way to see how blocks actually look in a published format.

Again, we highly recommend getting into the habit of using this preview button if you haven’t been up until this point.

Drag and Drop Images From PC

Let’s face it. Adding images to the classic WordPress editor was an unfortunate process that required superfluous steps. Users have long asked for a simple drag-and-drop image upload option.

Thankfully, that’s what the WordPress block editor offers. First, you need to create an image block. Next, find the image you want to upload on your computer. Finally, just drag the image file to that block and you’ll automatically upload it.

Just know that you’ll still need to play with the settings of the images you upload via this method. Even still, it’s the easiest way to upload images.

Use Shift+Enter to continue a text block

We talked about accessing keyboard shortcuts in the WordPress block editor in a section above. However, there’s one shortcut that we need to highlight.

By hitting Shift+Enter, you can create a paragraph break in your text without creating a new block. You may be surprised by how useful this seemingly simple feature is. After all, there are many times when you may want two text paragraphs to share the same block formatting. This seems to be the easiest way to access that functionality.

You’re probably going to be using this shortcut quite a lot, so be sure to get used to it as soon as possible.

Explore the Sub-settings

We talked about how each block in the WordPress block editor has its own settings. However, settings in the WordPress block editor go well beyond that.

For instance, creating a heading doesn’t automatically allow you to set what style of header you want. That typically has to be done via the header subsetting that appears on the right after you’ve chosen the header option.

That’s really just one example of this feature. The truth is that the WordPress block editor hides a lot of features via these subsections that require you to select certain elements first. It’s worth playing with the most common formatting elements in order to see just what is available within the editor.

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