The Grammar of WordPress


Updated January 2019

What does the WordPress dashboard have to do with baby pelicans?

Absolutely nothing. I just happen to be a sucker for baby pelicans, so I could not resist using this photo. 🙂

WordPress has its own terms for various things. This is a cheatsheet to help you get familiar with these terms:


“Gutenberg” is the name of the new block-based editor within WordPress – new as of the end of 2018. Long-time WordPress users will no doubt find Gutenberg annoying (*cough*ME*cough*), but if you’re new to WordPress, it is what it is. I’ll post more about Gutenberg in the coming weeks, but for now, when you see references to “Gutenberg,” just know that it refers to the interface you use when you write posts and pages in WordPress.


This is the screen you see when you first log in to the WordPress (WP) admin area. You can return to it by clicking the topmost menu item of the left-side admin menu. The Dashboard shows an overview of your site, such as how many posts you’ve made so far, how many comments you have, how many comments in moderation, and other bits of information. Various plugins you use might add their own information blocks here.

You can click and drag each Dashboard item around so that they’re in an order that makes more sense for your site.

You can turn different elements on & off on the dashboard by clicking the “Screen Options” tab in the top right corner of the screen; this will make an options panel slide down, and from there you can tick various boxes to show or not show different sections.


A “post” is a time-stamped entry/page/content that will show on the blog part of your site.

You might sometimes come across people calling them “blogs,” but this is not correct: A “blog” is a collection of “posts,” and the term “blog” comes from “weblog” or “web-log,” the original name for all of this. Sites were originally plain HTML pages, and then around 2000-2001-ish WordPress, Moveable Type, and other programs came onto the scene to enable people to create and maintain a diary/journal online…and they were called weblogs, which became “blogs” for short. And their entries were called “posts” (or just “entries”).

A post is dynamic content, in that it will eventually be pushed off of the main blog page and into your archives by newer posts being published after it.


Contrasted with posts, a “page” is a non-time stamped set of content, usually longer pieces of information that do not change very often.

A page is static (it stays in one place on the site and does not change).


Sidebars are “widget areas” in WordPress, i.e. they display widgets.

Because sidebars were originally thinner bars of content along the side of the main content – and often still are – they were called “sidebars.” However with WordPress’s evolution, “widget areas” are often in many other places such as along the top, across the bottom, etc. It is common for these to still be called “sidebars” even when they’re not on the side.


Widgets are individual blocks of information that are displayed using a widget area aka sidebar (see previous item).

Widgets used to be their own specialized thing that needed a sidebar/widget area to display them, but with the new Gutenberg editor in WordPress, it is now possible to show widgets in posts and pages.


A category is a way of organizing blog posts. They are usually general and broad, such as “Family,” “Food,” and the like.

You can create as many categories as you like.


Tags are another way to organize blog posts. They are usually more specific topics compared to categories; if a post is under a category of “Food,” then its tags could be “cookie recipe,” “chicken soup,” and the like.


“Archives” is the general term used for past blog posts (generally, those that have moved off the main page). There are “Category Archives” and “Tag Archives” and “Month Archives” and “Year Archives”…which are exactly what you’d expect, collections of blog posts arranged by category or tag or month or year.


A WordPress “theme” is the look of your site: the collection of colors, fonts, the layout, widget areas, etc. It’s the “outfit” your site wears, in a sense.

“Media Library”

The name WP gives to all media (images, video) uploaded to the “Media” area, either while writing a blog post (uploading images) or by going directly to the Media area and uploading there.


Plugins are added functionality for WordPress; think of plugins as little helper programs. They are like apps on your phone.


A “permalink” is the actual URL of a particular post or page – it’s “permanent link.” It is the URL that displays in a browser’s address bar when you are viewing that post/page. For example: This site’s URL is https://moonsteamdesign.com/, but this post’s “permalink” is https://moonsteamdesign.com/the-grammar-of-wordpress/.

I hope this helps a bit as you start to navigate the WordPress world.


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