The Block Editor: A Block Management Guide

The Block Editor (AKA Gutenberg) promises a whole new way to create and display content in WordPress. If you are not yet familiar with it, I strongly recommend working your way through this official tutorial or any of my Block-Aid tutorial posts.

Writing in WP Admin Classic Editor https://wp.me/p1MwNN-1D9
WP Admin’s Classic Editor
Behind the Wheel of the Classic Block https://wp.me/p1MwNN-1Je
Posting with the Classic Block
Getting One's Head Around the Full Block Editor https://wp.me/p1MwNN-1QE
Wrangling the Full Block Editor

If you want to get a feel for the Block Editor without the commitment, check out this sample website where you can “edit” the content on that page or, alternately, add a new test site to your existing WordPress.com account. Your new site will be Private and the Block Editor will be enabled by default.

The Block Inserter

When writing or editing your posts or pages and you open the Block Inserter (that plus sign inside a dark square, either in the top left toolbar of your Editor workspace or directly in the Editor workspace), you’ll be presented with dozens of blocks you can add to your post or page. If you feel a bit overwhelmed by the sheer number of available blocks, you can pare that list down to just the blocks you need and use.

Where to Find The Block Manager

With the Block Editor (AKA WordPress Editor) continuously being updated with each new release of the WordPress software, things have moved around since this post was first published in November 2019. As of September 2021, access to the Block Manager is located under the Blocks tab in Preferences.

Click on the ellipsis (AKA Options) in the upper right corner of your Editor workspace and then click on Preferences at the bottom of the sidebar that opens. Next, on the left side of the pop-up window, click on Blocks. (See first image in the Gallery below) Here you’ll see a couple of options for Block Interactions. Below those interactions you’ll find all the blocks currently available as of September 2021, grouped by section:

  • Text
  • Media
  • Design
  • Widgets
  • Theme
  • Embeds
  • Crowdsignal
  • Earn
  • Grow

That is an unwieldy number of blocks! (I don’t know about you but I got “scroll finger” just looking at this.)

Depending on your current WordPress.com plan and your site’s theme, you may have more blocks or fewer blocks available to you than what is shown here. Some of these blocks have a colored dot next to them, which means they are available on sites with a Premium plan or higher. To learn more about each block visit the Blocks Support guides.

Choose Your Blocks

You can deselect blocks that you are not likely to use by unchecking individual blocks or entire sections by unchecking the box next to the section heading. This will keep them from appearing in the Block Inserter when you click it and reduce the amount time you spend scrolling or searching for a block.

Pro Tip: Unchecking a box doesn’t delete the block; it only hides it from view in the Block Inserter. You can always open Preferences and re-enable the block later by checking the box again.

Enabling “Show Most Used Blocks”

In the Block Interactions section of the Block Manager, you can enable “Show Most-Used Blocks” which will float your most frequently used blocks to the very top of the Block Inserter in a new section, “Most Used.” Below that you’ll see the long list of available blocks.

Themes Old and New

Another factor to consider in working with the Block Editor (AKA Gutenberg, AKA WordPress Editor) is the theme you are using on your WordPress.com site.

My site was previously using an older theme that was updated to use the Block Editor, but was not made for the Block Editor like the “Recommended” themes in your site’s Appearance>Themes dashboard. Theme choice may affect whether a block can take full advantage of Block Editor settings, especially block width. You can see this in the Image Block, Cover Block, the Text & Media Block or any other block where “Wide Width” is a block option. If your site is using a Premium theme or a custom theme or an older free theme, these blocks may behave differently.

Thoughts

The Block Editor has been with us since November 2018 and even now I wonder how many users are creating amazing content and layouts with the Block Editor as opposed to struggling with it to get their content online.

What do you say?

Are there other Block Editor-specific topics you’re having trouble with that you’d like to see me cover? Let me know in the comments.

As always, the information in this post is correct as of publication date. Changes are inevitable.

This post was originally published in November 2019 and updated in September 2021

Featured Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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Published by JenT

After 4 years hand coding HTML and CSS websites, 2 years setting up and running WordPress sites, I launched my first website on WordPress.com back in 2006 and never looked back. Since then, I’ve helped other WordPress.com site owners navigate through the ever-changing WordPress.com ecosystem. Find me at wpcommaven.com

4 thoughts on “The Block Editor: A Block Management Guide

  1. Oh goodness – now I know I am doomed with a “new more better greatest” way to do something – the classic editor still works for me – yes a couple of pieces of html to add once in a while

    thanks for the update

    1. 🙂 Always glad to see you, Mike, and I don’t think you’re doomed. It’s just that the clock is ticking. I figure better to get a handle on it now before I have to.

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