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A Guide to the WordPress Codex, The Online Manual for WordPress Users

WordPress is so easy, for the most part, you can use it right out of the box. Once you get familiar with the powerful features beyond the most simple post writing, creating Pages and categories, you will probably want to do more.

The WordPress Codex is the online manual for WordPress users. It takes you through everything you want to know about how to use WordPress. From installation to customization, it’s all there. It’s also a living manual, so new articles and information are being added all the time.

Let me take you through a journey of the WordPress Codex to guide you to the information you may be looking for.

WordPress Lessons
The WordPress Codex features basic tutorials that are simple enough for the very basic beginner, while still offering intermediate level tasks and techniques to help just about every WordPress user. They are called WordPress Lessons.

WordPress Lessons are written as if a WordPress technical expert is sitting right next to you. They will walk you step-by-step through each process. Examples include introductions to templates, template tags, category templates, customizing your sidebar and header and so much more.

Blogging for Beginners:
If you are totally new to blogging, let alone WordPress, begin your educational process with Introduction to Blogging. This will help you learn the terms and concepts that make blogging different from websites. Then stop by WordPress Semantics for a really good introduction to the terminology and jargon associated with blogging and WordPress. Once you have a handle on the jargon and a basic understanding of how it works and what a blog is, then you can get into what WordPress has to offer.

WordPress for Beginners:
Those new to WordPress, you have two choices. You can jump in and install WordPress and take it for a spin with little or no help outside of the simple and famous 5 minute installation. It is that simple. Or, you can read about how it works and then install it, learning as you go. Either way, spend some time with First Steps With WordPress and New To WordPress – Where to Start. These two documents will guide you through everything you need to know to get your WordPress blog up and going, helping you understand how all the different parts and pieces work, and how you can get them to work for you.

Using WordPress:
Whether you are a beginner blogger or fairly experienced, some basic tutorials will help you learn how to use WordPress are available. The first thing you need to learn how to do is how to write your first post in WordPress. You write your post and control your blog from your WordPress Administration Panels, though many incorrectly call these the Dashboard. The Dashboard is just one of the many Administration Panels in WordPress. Like most bloggers, you will want to include images and photographs in you posts. You will also want to learn how to manage your Links or Blogroll and comments, and learn how to link to your posts, Pages, and categories from within your posts, helping to improve navigation and linking.

Exploring WordPress Features:
WordPress has some very powerful features that make blogging a dream, and makes WordPress a borderline CMS program. In fact, many use it as such. Pages are not like posts. They are non-chronological web pages that work outside of the WordPress Loop and do not “age”. Use them to create contact, about, events, schedule, and other non-post pages that provide pseudo static information.

WordPress Feeds play a very important role in WordPress, offering fans and search engines another way of accessing your blog. In the full version of WordPress, you can add users to your blog so others can contribute. To learn more about what you can do as a blog administrator, see Administering Your WordPress Blog.

WordPress Discussions and Comments:
A highlight of WordPress blogs is the ability to handle comments for site interactivity. Blog comments are managed from the Moderation Subpanel of the Manage panel in your WordPress Administration Panels. For the most part, comments on your WordPress blog are easy to handle, and if they make you nervous or you don’t want them, you can turn them off. You can quickly check to see if you have any comments, respond if you need to, delete them if inappropriate, and get back to writing post content to invite more comments. WordPress, right out of the box, is usually really good at eliminating many of the nagging comment spam that can come knocking. But there are other methods of dealing with comment spam if it gets out of control, putting the focus back on the content.

Choosing and Tweaking Your WordPress Theme:
The next thing people always want to do is choose a WordPress Theme or tweak one that they like but want to change to make it more personalized. To choose your WordPress Theme, read Using WordPress Themes and visit the official WordPress Themes list and view the various Themes in the official WordPress Theme Viewer. First Steps With WordPress will help you understand what the various WordPress Theme elements are so you know what to look for in a Theme that matches your blog’s content and purpose.

If you want to tweak the WordPress Theme you have chosen, there are plenty of articles to help you in the WordPress Blog Design and Layout and WordPress Lessons sections of the Codex. If you are new to HTML, CSS, and website design and layout, then take a few minutes to read through Finding Your CSS Styles to help you look through your WordPress Template files and Theme to change little bits and pieces within the Theme. WordPress, like most modern web pages and websites, relies almost totally on CSS to structure to present your web pages, so you can learn more about how WordPress uses CSS in the article on WordPress CSS Information and Techniques.

Customizing WordPress:
The power of using the full version of WordPress, you can customize and tweak WordPress into just about anything you want and need in a website or blog. There are plenty of WordPress Lessons to help you do this. Want a photoblog or photo gallery?

How about creating a search page or customize Error 404 – Page Not Found Page, giving authors special pages listing their work on your site, designing your own forms for comments or other forms, adding asides, add plugins to expand your blog’s features, use javascript, use conditional tags to customize the generated results in your WordPress web pages, and designing a static front page or welcome page in WordPress? There are so many ways you can customize WordPress, and these just scratch the surface.

Customizing Your WordPress Theme:
WordPress uses a modular template system to create the look of your blog called a WordPress Theme. To customize your WordPress Theme, or even design one from scratch, you need to understand how the WordPress template system works. Stepping Into Templates provides a basic introduction to templates, and you can find specific examples of the various custom templates used in WordPress and how to customize them yourself.

Inside of WordPress template files are WordPress Template Tags and you can get a basic understanding of how they work from reading Stepping Into Template Tags. As people make changes on their template files and style sheet, they often complain about not being able to see the changes, so there is a WordPress Lesson on “I Make Changes and Nothing Happens” to help you understand how Internet browsers store historical copies of websites you visit and how to clear out those copies so you can see the changes.

Customizing your WordPress Theme involves finding your CSS styles, and working with CSS to modify the style sheet to change the look of your WordPress blog. You will also need a good understanding of the WordPress site architecture. There is extensive information on designing WordPress Themes in WordPress Theme Development, WordPress Blog Design and Layout, and Designing WordPress Themes for Public Release.

Customization doesn’t stop with simply changing the HTML/XHTML structure and CSS style sheet. With WordPress, you can dig deeper and change the PHP core functions and queries within your WordPress Templates. This is not for the meek, but even advanced beginners can follow the easy-to-understand WordPress Lessons which cover a variety of topics such as The WordPress Loop in Action, Alphabetizing Posts, Customizing the Read More, Separating Category Lists, Using Custom Fields with Post-Meta, Using Smilies, Customizing Feeds, Designing Headers, Styling Theme Forms, and so much more.

Don’t forget to validate your WordPress blog, Theme and Template Files to ensure they are all working right and up to web standards after all that fiddling.

Website and Blog Development:
Developing your WordPress blog or site isn’t just limited to creating a great looking Theme and writing brilliant essays and articles. If you want to attract attention from users and search engines, you will need to do some work on maintaining your WordPress blog and working on your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) so search engines will enjoy visiting your site. More WordPress Lessons will help guide you through some of these website administration tasks such as WordPress Housekeeping, WordPress Site Maintenance, Meta Tags in WordPress, Search Engine Optimization for WordPress, Accessibility, and find your Website, Host and Server Information. It’s also important to know your sources while developing your WordPress blog.

Finding Help for WordPress:
There are many helpful articles on how to find more help with your WordPress blog such as Finding WordPress Help, Getting More Help With WordPress, Using the WordPress Support Forums, WordPress FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions, and there is always the WordPress Support Forum if you have questions not covered by WordPress Lessons in the WordPress Codex.

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25 Comments

  1. t
    Posted January 11, 2006 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

    sweet! thank you!

  2. Posted March 2, 2006 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    I am a beginner aged 56, which may explain the fact that I am slow at this!
    could you tell me how to create an html link from one of my pages to an external website. The way I would normally do it doesn’t seem to work.
    plus –
    do I have to have a plug in to delete an image I have decided not to use and want to replace with another?
    thanks,
    Frances Stadlen

  3. Posted March 2, 2006 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    First of all, never post your email publicly. I’ve removed them. Second, there is plenty of information on links in the following location that will help you understand everything you want to know:

    Writing Posts in WordPress
    Linking Posts, Pages, and Categories
    The Power of the Link

    The basic instruction is to click the LINK button above your post edit “box” and paste in the link from the web page (copied from the address bar in your browser) in the pop up window. It will appear in your post where you’ve left the cursor.

    To delete an image in WordPress.com, simply click on the image in the Image Preview section of your WRITE POST panel and choose DELETE. To replace it with another with the same name, simply upload the new image after you have deleted it.

    For more basics of using WordPress, even WordPress.com, see WordPress Lessons.

    Good luck! And welcome to WordPress.

  4. Posted April 29, 2006 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Hi,
    I have found my full version Word Press anything but simple. My host (recommended by WordPress) installed it for me (I tried by couldn’t do it by myself), since then, aside from simple posts, I haven’t been able to do much. For example, I cannot post photos (though I can do so easily on my simple WP blog). When I post help notices on the WP forum, people write back with instructions that always lead me to dead-ends. For example, I have been told to go to my WP-content folder (by the way, can I only reach that folder through my FTP, or can I also reach it through my wp-admin page?). I am told there is an “upload” file there. But I have been unable to find it. When I call my hosting service, they tell me to reload WP (thus wiping out my files). Do you have a suggestion for basic uploading? People have told me I can do everything through my WP-admin page, but I haven’t been able to. In most other areas of my life, I am not retarded.

  5. Posted April 30, 2006 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

    Okay, slow down and breath. ;-)

    To post photographs (or any graphic images) in your posts in WordPress 2.x, in the Write Post Panel (where you write your posts), in the section that features image uploads, click the UPLOAD tab. Then click BROWSE and a familiar window will open that looks like FILE > OPEN. Find the image file on your hard drive and select it. Make sure it is small, preferably under 50K. It will then appear in your Image Browser section. It is now uploaded to your site. The rest doesn’t matter.

    To use the image, if you are using the Rich Text Editor, simply click and drag the image into the post editing window where you want it. This will put a thumbnail of the image into your post. When the user clicks on it, it will show the large version of the image. If you want the large, normal size to show in your post, then click the image in the Image section and select “Using Thumbnail” and it will change to “Using Original”. Then click and drag the image into your post content area.

    If you are not using the Rich Text Editor, then you can do the same technique for thumbnail or original, then right click on the image in the viewer and choose COPY IMAGE LOCATION and then click the IMG button in the edit window section (quicktag buttons) and paste in the image location when it asks for the image location. Done. Easy.

    You can then either manually type in align=”right” or align=”left” or class=”left” or class=”right” or whatever you use to float an image to the right or left for the text to wrap around the image. You are done.

    No FTP, no screwing around.

    Now, there are complications and problems with this.

    If you have a bunch of images to upload, then you should use an FTP program as you were told.

    Check out the following helpful articles:

    Writing Posts in WordPress
    First Steps With WordPress
    WordPress Lessons
    Using Images in WordPress

    I hope this helps.

    And everyone feels retarded when confronted with all of this new stuff. It can be overwhelming and complex, so take it easy and relax. It will be fun when you get the hang of it.

  6. Posted May 22, 2007 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the tips, I am not very good at technical stuff, like setting up a blog. Cheers again!

  7. Posted July 17, 2007 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    Hi.. cool blog.. I was wondering if you would consider allowing me to add your blog feed to my news section on my site. I realise that not all of your posts are strictly webmaster related but ive written a script to only show posts containing certain keywords so theres no need to worry. Anyway, like i said.. cool blog.. some interesting stuff.. thanks

  8. Posted July 18, 2007 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    Ozonew4mWebmaster: No thank you. I do not wish such inclusion and ask to have all such feed scraping stopped IMMEDIATELY.

    If you would like to include my blog in a post about what I offer, or in the blogroll, you may do so without permission. Thank you.

  9. Posted November 28, 2007 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    I’m totally new to wordpress and am using it at a website rather than a blog. I have a friend who is helping me but I have come to realize that I need to learn the code myself.

    Is there a how-to book or manual for when someone uses wordpress as a website?

    thanks

  10. Posted November 28, 2007 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    @Terra Koerpel:

    I don’t understand your question. A blog (WordPress) is a website. Do you want a static front page? Do you want different content on different Pages or posts? All that information is in the WordPress Codex, as outlined above.

  11. Don
    Posted January 2, 2008 at 2:46 am | Permalink

    Hi Lorelle,

    I have been searching for some help with my WordPress weblog. I think I messed something up and need to change the directory back…if you have a moment, may I email you to see if you have an answer? Thanks for your great pages here, and I hope you can help me with my unique problem. Thanks.

  12. Posted January 2, 2008 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    @ Don:

    You will be best served by asking on the WordPress Support Forums as they have the time and experience to help you directly. Good luck and be sure and search first and take advantage of the great articles in the WordPress Codex as the answer might lie there.

  13. jajangdragon
    Posted April 15, 2008 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    Hi Lorelle,
    is there any offline manual from codex.wordpress.org?

  14. Posted April 16, 2008 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    @ jajangdragon:

    Yes. Your printer. :D

    No, there isn’t an offline version for many reasons, mostly because it changes daily. There are, however, books on learning WordPress you can buy.

  15. Posted July 8, 2008 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

    Thanks. This is awesome! If only God had given me a technical mind! I’d be lost without you.

  16. Denise Hadfield
    Posted January 30, 2009 at 12:50 am | Permalink

    where can I find some
    ‘How to’ help on WP2.7

  17. Misato
    Posted October 5, 2009 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for posting this. I am a wordpress beginner, but as long as I have spent trying to get the hang of wordpress, I shouldn’t be.

    What I don’t get is why so many people say that designing a blog is easier than designing a standard website. I don’t think this is the case at all.

    I am pretty comfortable with designing website, both coding the html and using wyswig editors also, and the learning curve to learn this was not near as steep to me as trying to learn how to desing a blog.

    Blog desing you need to know how to use archives, categories, pages and stuff. You need to know about plug ins and widgets and learn each one you want to use, in addition to learning WordPress by itself.

    This doesn’t even take into account that you also still need to know HTML if you want your Blog to look or display certain things that WordPress just won’t let you do with it’s own editor.

    So designing a blog is easier than designing a website??? I don’t know who started that myth, but I think not! :D

    Misatop

    • Posted October 7, 2009 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

      Actually, designing a blog is much easier as you really need very little HTML experience if you stick with Themes, editing small features, and working with Widgets. Yes, there is a learning curve for archives, categories, Pages, and so on, but these are not much different from static HTML concerns with folders, What’s New Pages, site maps, and other design elements.

  18. john sure
    Posted April 30, 2010 at 2:16 am | Permalink

    I’ve been looking for something like this, wordpress has been great for me for the past few years.

  19. Posted December 27, 2010 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    Hi, I have my photos in gallery 3 attached to my wordPress text. My problem is that I have an Album inside another Album, like a sub-album. I would like to move it as one of my main Albums. I can not find any instructions on how to do that. I don’t want to ‘start a new album’ I just want to move this album in toto. HELP!

  20. Digi
    Posted April 15, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Well I’m 54 and I love the internet and am having so much fun learning about WordPress. Infact I’m going to turn this into a business ! Hey, it’s never to late !

    Love your site.

  21. raydm
    Posted June 16, 2011 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    at 81 I must be out of my head to try to learn WordPress, but I have a burning desire to create a website around my 14 books and stories, and my son threw down the guantlet when he suggested I ‘use WordPress’.
    Little did I know what I was getting into.
    Thank God I found your website, Lorelle.
    The gods have been kind to me for a change.

    • Posted June 16, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

      Thank you and good luck with your efforts. Remember to focus on the content, not WordPress, for the first few months. Just use the default Theme, change the header art, and put all your energy on content not paint. WordPress is simple and easy to use, so use it to do what it does best, help you have your say.


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