Mastering the WordPress Gutenberg Block Editor: A Comprehensive Guide

The Gutenberg block editor, introduced in WordPress 5.0, has revolutionized the way users create content in WordPress. With its intuitive drag-and-drop interface and wide range of content blocks, the block editor makes it easier than ever to design beautiful, engaging pages and posts – no coding required.

In this in-depth guide, we‘ll walk you through everything you need to know to start using the Gutenberg editor like a pro. Whether you‘re a WordPress beginner or a seasoned user making the switch from the classic editor, you‘ll learn all the tips and tricks for building great-looking content with Gutenberg. Let‘s dive in!

What is Gutenberg?

Gutenberg is WordPress‘ new default content editor, replacing the classic editor that came before it. The classic editor relied on a single rich text field for adding content, similar to Word processors like Microsoft Word.

In contrast, Gutenberg uses a system of individual "blocks" that you add and arrange to build your page or post content. Each block represents a specific type of content – a paragraph, image, heading, list, button, etc. You can customize each block‘s settings, move blocks around, and add new blocks anywhere on the page.

This block-based system provides much more flexibility and control over the design and layout of your content. With Gutenberg, you can easily create more advanced, visually interesting layouts that previously required HTML/CSS coding or page builder plugins.

Some key advantages of the Gutenberg block editor include:

  • Intuitive visual interface for building content
  • Drag-and-drop functionality to easily rearrange blocks
  • Live preview shows how your content will look on the front end
  • Dozens of content blocks for all common types of content
  • Easy options for customizing colors, typography, and block settings
  • Ability to save blocks and sections as reusable templates
  • Responsive output that looks great on any device
  • Extensible with plugins that add new blocks

While there is a bit of a learning curve with Gutenberg compared to the classic editor, most users find it to be a much more enjoyable and productive editing experience once they get oriented. With a little practice, you‘ll be building beautiful WordPress content in no time.

How to Use the Gutenberg Block Editor

Using the Gutenberg editor is quite straightforward once you understand the basics. Here‘s how to get started with creating a new post or page:

1. Creating a New Post or Page

In your WordPress dashboard, go to Posts > Add New or Pages > Add New. This will open up a fresh page with the Gutenberg block editor enabled.

First, add a title for your post or page in the "Add title" field at the top. Then, you can start writing your content in the main editor window.

2. Adding Blocks

The editor starts with a single empty block. To add your first content, simply start typing to convert the block to a paragraph.

To add new blocks, click the + icon in the top left corner or hover over the space between existing blocks and click the + that appears. This will open the block inserter panel, where you can browse or search available blocks. Click a block to insert it into your content.

Some of the commonly used blocks include:

  • Paragraph – for regular text content
  • Heading – for section titles in H2-H6 tags
  • Image – for inserting photos and graphics
  • Gallery – for displaying multiple images in a grid or slideshow
  • List – for bulleted or numbered lists
  • Quote – for highlighting a pullquote or blockquote
  • Video – for embedding videos from YouTube, Vimeo, or your media library
  • Button – for adding a customizable call-to-action button
  • Columns – for organizing content into columns

We‘ll go into more detail on the different block types later on.

3. Customizing and Arranging Blocks

Once you‘ve added a block, you can customize it using the toolbar and settings in the right sidebar. Toolbar options vary by block type but typically include things like text alignment, bold/italics/link, and inline text color.

The sidebar settings allow you to customize things like:

  • Text size and line height
  • Colors and background color
  • Block alignment and width
  • Adding CSS classes

Most blocks also have block-specific settings for things like button text and link, number of columns, image alt text and size, etc.

To rearrange blocks, simply hover over a block and click the up or down arrows to move it. You can also click the drag handle (six dots) and drag the block to a new position.

4. Using Reusable Blocks

If you find yourself using the same block configuration often, you can save it as a reusable block to quickly add it again later.

To create a reusable block, select the block(s) you want to reuse, click the three-dot icon in the block toolbar, and choose "Add to Reusable Blocks". Give your reusable block a name and click Save.

Now, when you want to reuse that block, simply find it under the "Reusable" section of the block inserter panel. Reusable blocks maintain their content and settings, and any changes you make will apply everywhere that block is used.

5. Publishing or Saving as Draft

When you‘re done editing your post or page, it‘s time to publish it or save it as a draft if you‘re not ready to make it live.

In the top right corner of the editor, you‘ll see the Publish panel with options to preview, save draft, or publish your content. Clicking "Publish" makes the page or post live on your site, while "Save Draft" saves your changes without publishing.

You can come back and edit your draft or scheduled post at any time by finding it under All Posts or All Pages.

Default WordPress Block Types

Let‘s take a closer look at the default blocks included with WordPress and what you can do with each one:

  • Paragraph: The basic block for adding text content. Includes options for text alignment, dropcaps, font size, and background color.

  • Heading: For adding section titles with heading tags from H2-H6. Customize font size, color, and alignment.

  • Image: Easily upload and insert images with options for alt text, resizing, linking, and adding a caption.

  • Gallery: Display a grid or slideshow of multiple images. Customize the number of columns, image size, and whether to link images to attachment pages.

  • List: Create a bulleted or numbered list with customizable indent levels and bullet/number styles.

  • Quote: Highlight a pullquote or blockquote in your content with stylized text. Add a citation and customize text and background colors.

  • Audio: Embed an audio player for audio files from your media library or an external URL.

  • Cover: Add a full-width image or video background with overlaid text. Great for header sections.

  • File: Allow readers to download files from your site, with options to show a download button or the full file name.

  • Video: Embed videos from YouTube, Vimeo, or your media library with custom start/end times and playback controls.

  • Code: Insert a preformatted code block with syntax highlighting for a variety of programming languages.

  • Classic: The Classic block essentially embeds the old TinyMCE editor inside a Gutenberg block, providing backwards compatibility for old content.

  • Custom HTML: For adding custom HTML code inside your content. Useful for embedding third-party content or custom code snippets.

  • Preformatted: Preserve your content‘s formatting and spacing, such as for text that requires specific line breaks like poems or addresses.

  • Pullquote: Similar to the Quote block but typically used for brief, punchy pullquotes floated left or right within your content.

  • Table: Create a simple table with header and body cells. Customize background and text colors.

  • Verse: Similar to the Preformatted block with additional styling and spacing for poetic works.

Along with these default blocks, you may also see additional blocks added by your theme or plugins. If there‘s functionality you need that the default blocks don‘t provide, see the next section on extending Gutenberg.

Extending Gutenberg with Plugins

One of the great things about Gutenberg is its extensibility. WordPress developers can create their own custom blocks that add all sorts of new functionality to the editor.

There are already a wide variety of Gutenberg block plugins available, both free and paid. Some popular options include:

  • Ultimate Addons for Gutenberg – 20+ new blocks including Advanced Columns, BlockQuotes, Review Schema, Content Timeline, and more.

  • Kadence Blocks – 12 custom blocks focused on design and layout, including Row Layout, Advanced Gallery, Icon, Testimonials, and more. A great complement to the Kadence theme.

  • Atomic Blocks – A collection of 15 blocks for designers, including Advanced Columns, Newsletter, Pricing Table, Post Grid, and more.

  • Stackable Gutenberg Blocks – Over 20 professionally-designed blocks, including Container, Posts, Feature Grid, Video Popup, and more.

  • CoBlocks – 10+ blocks for marketers, including Buttons, Accordion, Author Profile, Click-to-Tweet, and more. Built by the team behind GoDaddy.

Most block plugins include a variety of pre-designed block templates and settings to customize the look and feel of the blocks. If you find the default WordPress blocks too limiting, definitely explore some of these block plugins to see how they might enhance your editing experience.

You can find even more Gutenberg block plugins by searching the plugin repository.

Tips for Working Efficiently in Gutenberg

Here are a few tips and tricks to speed up your workflow in the block editor:

  • Use keyboard shortcuts for common actions like adding new blocks, duplicating blocks, removing blocks, etc. Check out the official list of Gutenberg keyboard shortcuts.

  • Take advantage of reusable blocks for any block configurations you use often. This is a huge time saver!

  • Use the slash command (/) to quickly search for and insert a specific block without opening the block inserter.

  • Install a Gutenberg block plugin like EditorsKit that adds even more productivity enhancements and tools to the editor.

  • Explore the settings and options for each block to learn what‘s possible. You can customize a block much more than you might realize.

  • Utilize block patterns for pre-designed layouts and sections you can insert with a click. Many themes, including the default Twenty Twenty-One theme, now include their own pattern library.

Gutenberg vs. Page Builders

You may be wondering how the Gutenberg block editor compares to popular page builder plugins like Elementor, Divi, Beaver Builder, etc.

While both provide visual, drag-and-drop editing and pre-designed layouts, there are some key differences:

  • Gutenberg is built into WordPress core, while page builders are third-party plugins
  • Gutenberg outputs clean, semantic HTML compared to the shortcode soup of some page builders
  • Page builders typically have a steeper learning curve and may slow down your site more than Gutenberg
  • Some page builders offer more advanced design and layout options, as well as full theme building

In general, Gutenberg is great for content-focused pages and posts where you want simplicity and clean code. Page builders may be better for very design-heavy pages or full site builds.

Many users find that Gutenberg, especially when extended with block plugins, can handle most of their needs for designing pages and posts. The block editor keeps getting more powerful and flexible with each new WordPress update.


The Gutenberg block editor represents the future of content creation in WordPress. While there‘s a learning curve for those used to the old classic editor, Gutenberg‘s block system provides a more intuitive, visual way to design beautiful pages and posts.

With the tips and techniques covered in this guide, you‘re well on your way to mastering the block editor. Experiment with the different block types, customize your layouts, and explore some block plugins to take your designs to the next level.

The block editor will only keep getting better from here, with more blocks, more customization options, and an ever-growing library of pre-designed patterns and templates. Now is the time to embrace the Gutenberg revolution and level up your WordPress skills!

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