wordpress glossary visualisation

WordPress Glossary


One of the best ways to develop your understanding of WordPress is to become more familiar with the software’s key terms. This glossary contains definitions and explanations of the most important terms you need to know if you are working with WordPress to create and manage your website.

As you grow in confidence using WordPress, you can always return to this resource to help reinforce your awareness of each concept.

Archive Pages

Archive pages contain lists of WordPress posts that are filtered according to type, category, tag and any other terms used on your site. They are a simple and practical way to present your published pages to visitors who might be interested in learning more about a particular subject or topic.

WordPress is brilliant because the software automatically generates an archive page every time you add a new term.


When you are writing or editing your posts and pages, it’s good to know WordPress saves your changes automatically every two minutes so you will not lose your great content. You will see a notification of when the last entry was saved to the database in the lower right corner of the Gutenberg editor.


An avatar is an image that represents a user, such as the profile picture connected to your social media accounts and used to identify your friends and family in your contact list. They are used in the WordPress comments section or author profile.

Back End

The back end is where you build and maintain your website, such as the WordPress software and the server that hosts your files and database. All additions and modifications to your content are made in the back end. By contrast, visitors to your site will see the wonderfully presented front end.


WordPress uses a block editor to build the content and layout of a webpage. There are blocks for headings, paragraphs, images, embedding YouTube videos and social media feeds, buttons, widgets, and other content elements.

You can access the Block Inserter Library by clicking the blue plus icon wordpress button at the top of the editor screen or any of the other plus icon buttons. It’s the primary interface for selecting a block from all the types available in your installation, such as different text blocks and media blocks. Of course, there are plenty of plugins that will add more blocks and complex features to your library.

Blocks can be styled using the various options which appear in the settings panel.


A blog is an online journal or diary published by individuals, groups and companies. An obvious example would be a travel blog where someone details their journey around the world. Or a business might post updates about their product lines to engage potential customers.

It is important to note WordPress began as a blogging platform and that intention still influences its design, such as the difference between posts and pages.


It is really important to have a clear and meaningful structure to your website, so users can easily navigate around your content to find the information they need. Each post in WordPress can be classified under one or more categories. If someone likes a particular post, they can find similar content by clicking the link to that category archive page.

We have a quick guide to managing categories and tags in WordPress to help you become more familiar with the process.

screenshot of the category admin screen
The Category Admin Screen


Comment sections encourage readers to respond to posts, giving them an opportunity to share their own thoughts and feelings on the content. They are great way to generate discussion. Some users simply want to thank the author for their well-written post.

You can manage comments in the Comment Admin Screen. For instance, you might want to queue comments for approval in case you are receiving lots of spam so they can be sent to trash without damaging your site.

A fresh installation will come with one comment to help you get started:

WordPress comment admin screen
Comment Admin Screen

Content Management System

WordPress is a content management system (CMS) which helps you build and maintain a website. The software provides a user-friendly interface for you to publish content without needing detailed coding knowledge or having to directly interact with your web server.

Cascading Style Sheets

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) are used to define the styling and displaying of the different content elements in your posts and pages. These files enable designers to create the formatting and layout for a web site independently of its content.

For example, the following code describes the typeface, size of font and colour we use for paragraphs on this site:

p {
  color: #222222;

With an external stylesheet, we could change the look of the main text across an entire website by modifying just one or two lines of code.


In WordPress, the main administration screen is the dashboard. The widgets provide some important information about the site and WordPress news. You can enable, disable and move them around.

screenshot of the wordpress dashboard
The WordPress Dashboard


WordPress is relatively straightforward to use because it takes care of what happens behind the scenes on your server. However, all your content, such as posts, comments, and menus, is stored in a database:

Example of a Database Storing WordPress Information
Example of a Database Storing WordPress Information

As you can you can in the screenshot above, a database consists of rows and columns full of information regarding your content. You are able to ignore the complex infrastructure of a WordPress site because the software manages the back end for you.

Default Theme

When you install WordPress for the first time, it will come with a default theme. It is good practice not to delete this theme because WordPress will fallback to using the default theme if the active theme is for some reason lost or deleted.

Domain Name

A domain name is the address of your website which people can type into their browser URL bar to visit your website.

Each computer is assigned an IP address, such as However, it would be impossible to remember a string of numbers like this to visit your favourite websites. Domain names were invented to solve this problem. Our domain name is simply media-studies.com.


Working on awesome content takes time and effort. You might start writing a post one day and then finish the next. If you don’t want the world to read your half-formed ideas, you can set the status of a post to draft until you are ready to publish.

Supported by most themes and usually appearing beside your title, a featured image is the primary image connected to a post or page. They are also displayed on archive pages, search results and recent post lists across your site, so users can get a sense of the article’s content before they click the link. If someone shares your post to their social media, the platform will probably display the image in the feed. Therefore, the featured image should match the tone of the post and reflect its message.

Under “Posts” in Gutenberg’s settings sidebar, click the box to add a featured image and follow the on-screen prompts.

A footer is one of the main conventions of website design. It is the horizontal area at the bottom of a page used for displaying information other than the main content. In WordPress, the design will be determined by the theme and generated by a template file, typically named sidebar-footer.php.

Front End

The front end is the combination of graphic design and the interface your audience sees when they visit your website. It is the look and feel of your content. In fact, you are interacting with the front end right now when you are scrolling through this glossary of key terms.

By contrast, to access the back end of the site, you need to login to WordPress.

Full Site Editing

WordPress Full site editing (FSE) refers to a collection of features which gives you the ability to build and edit an entire website using blocks, such as designing cool headers, deciding on the layout of your footer, and finishing the structural appearance of your pages and posts. If you are new to WordPress, you should continue to rely on themes for these aspects of your website.


The Gutenberg Block Editor allows you to build your own posts and pages without any coding knowledge. Each content element is called a block. If you want to add a paragraph, you simply add a paragraph block and start typing. Need to include a picture? Just select the image block and upload your attention-grabbing image.

The editor will endeavor to create a new page and post building experience that makes writing rich posts effortless, and has “blocks” to make it easy…

Matt Mullenweg (WordPress Founder)

If you want to experience the block editor but don’t have a WordPress site, you can visit https://wordpress.org/gutenberg/ and mess around with the different block types. You can also find out more in our introduction to the editor’s interface.

Header Image

A header image is the wide picture that appears at the top of a WordPress website. First impressions could so make sure your image sets the right tone for your website.


Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) is a markup language used to describe the structure of web pages. When you visit a website, your browser reads the HTML document to workout the relationships between the text, images and other forms of media on the page. In other words, the layout of the page.

Like most website developers, WordPress uses labels to introduce each element. For example, the tag <!– wp:paragraph –> is used to describe the paragraph block. Your browser doesn’t actually display this information, but it is useful to when you are trying to read and understand a HTML file.

You can switch to the code editor in Gutenberg by clicking wordpress settings button and opening up the settings panel:

Switch to Code Editor

It is also worth noting HTML files are usually linked to Cascading Style Sheets and JavaScript to properly display the style and run the functions of each element.

IP address

An IP address is a unique number assigned to a computer or device to enable them to communicate with each other. For example, your computer uses the Internet Protocol to send a document to your printer and, importantly, connect with websites around the world.

However, domain names were invented to make addresses easier to remember. The domain name system (DNS) maps domain names to IP addresses.


JavaScript is the programming language which makes web pages interactive. For example, JavaScript handles the performance of a drop-down hamburger menu and the change of a button’s colour when your mouse hovers over it. When you reply to a comment on a WordPress site, the software uses JavaScript to integrate your comment into the section.

WordPress generates the JavaScript file along with the HTML and CCS files needed to display your content.

Menus are lists of links to pages and posts. They are an important aspect of your website’s design and navigation strategy.

Taking account of user experience, our main menu is straightforward and accessible:

Our guide to changing your menu in WordPress will help you create and arrange the menus on your site.

Navigation refers to the clickable text on a page which redirects you to a corresponding page elsewhere on the website. The main menu and hyperlinks are obvious examples.


Pages in WordPress are often used to present “static” information about your website, such as an about page or a privacy policy. This sort of content rarely changes but remains relevant to each visitor who might want to learn more about you or your company.

People have been using the word “page” to describe any HTML document on the internet. However, in WordPress, it refers to a specific feature which confuses some beginners. Check out our overview of the difference between posts and pages for more information.


According to WordPress.org, patterns “add a beautifully designed, ready to go layout to any WordPress site with a simple copy/paste”. In other words, they are a predefined defined layout of blocks which can be used as starter content to help speedup your workflow. For example, rather than creating a header banner every time you add a new post, you can simple copy and paste one that is already built.

You can search for pre-loved patterns on the WordPress Patterns directory and discover some great time-saving designs.

The permalink is the URL for posts, pages, images and other resource on your site. It includes the domain name and the slug. For example, here is the permalink for this page:


It is important to remember WordPress started as blogging software so the default setting for permalinks is set to display the date and name in the slug. To change the structure of your permalinks into something more appropriate, go to “Settings” and click “Permalinks”.

WordPress Permalinks settings work area
Permalink Settings Screen

If you are using categories and tags to structure your posts, you could change to a custom structure which adds the terms to the slug.


WordPress uses PHP scripting language to connect to your database and generate dynamic page content based on the information requested. This sort of operation is essential to blogs with archive pages which rely on pulling posts from the server and sorting them according into categories, tags or other terms. If someone clicks a link to visit one of your categories, the PHP code is executed on the server and the result is returned to the browser as plain HTML.


A plugin is piece of software which extends the functionality present in a standard WordPress site. Some plugins make changes to the back end, such as making maintenance easier or improving the security of your site. Other plugins will enable to add features to the front end to improve the user experience. For example, there are plugins you can install to create visually appealing galleries and sliders. Or you might want to connect your Instagram account so visitors can see your latest images.

You can search for plugins in the WordPress directory. If you are looking to integrate a plugin to your own site, you can read our guide to installing plugins for more information.


In WordPress, posts are the articles you write to populate your blog. They contain lots of metadata, such as publication date, author and category, so a fresh list of posts can be automatically generated when a user access a term’s archive page. This dynamic quality is different from the static pages in WordPress. If you would like to explore the two options in more detail, you should read our guide to the differences between posts and pages.

Post Settings

You can find the posts settings in the sidebar region. It includes the metadata fields for the post, including scheduling, visibility, terms, and featured image.

The “Status and visibility” setting allows you to switch the post to public, private and password protected. You can also change the post format and assign the post to a different author.

The post’s slug is in the “Permalink” section.

If you want to add the post to a category and/or tag, you will find the relevant sections in this sidebar.

In this screenshot, we have the “Featured image” section open. There are also sections to adjust the values for the “Excerpt” and “Discussion” – the latter is for enabling or disabling comments.

screenshot of the posts settings in Gutenberg Editor


When a user accesses your website, their browser sends queries to the database to fetch the files it needs to display the page. If you are creating or editing content, WordPress sends a query to the database to update that information.

WordPress Query Infographic
Understanding WordPress Queries

Reusable Blocks

A block that is saved and then can be shared as a reusable, repeatable piece of content. Instead of building the same complex group of blocks every time you need the content, you can save the design by selecting “Add to reusable blocks”. You will be able to select that combination of blocks will be available from the Block Inserter Library – just make sure to convert it to regular blocks before you make any changes!

Settings Sidebar

When you writing a post or page, the settings sidebar is the panel on the right that contains the document and block settings. The sidebar is toggled using the cog icon: wordpress settings button. If you select a block to edit, the settings will switch from Post to Block so you see what modifications and styling are available.

These are the default values for the paragraph block. In this section, you can modify the colour of the font, add a background colour to the block, and make some complex changes to the typography, including size and letter spacing, and insert drop capitals.

paragraph block settings screenshot

A sidebar is a vertical column for displaying information other than the main content of the web page. Sidebars usually contain widgets and are determined by the theme you have installed.


A slug is the last part of the permalink and leads to a specific page or resource. If you add a new post, WordPress automatically generates the slug based on your permalinks settings, but you should be able to set your own post’s slug in the Gutenberg editor. Click wordpress settings button to open the settings panel and, under the “Post” tab, select the permalink section:

Simply type your new value into the field and your slug will be updated.

Finally, slugs should be a URL friendly version of your post title so users can identify the post they are visiting. For example:

The permalink for this page is media-studies.com/wordpress-glossary.
The slug is “wordpress-glossary”.


Although posts are assigned to broad categories, tags are a useful way to classify their specific content. You can add and edit tags in the tag admin screen.

Tag Admin Screen Example

You can also add tags in the Gutenberg settings while you are writing the new post. When a user clicks a tag link, they will be taken to an archive page which will list all the posts featuring that particular term.

Our tutorial on adding categories and tags to posts goes into a little more detail than this glossary’s explanation so it is worth reading if you want to use this aspect of WordPress.


The word taxonomy relates to the classification of things. In WordPress, you can assign posts to categories and tags.


Terms are simply the names you give to categories and tags.

WordPress has two methods of grouping posts together. These taxonomies are called categories and tags. You already know both taxonomies are an effective and efficient way of ensuring visitors can find more information on your website. The names of each grouping in a taxonomy is called a term.

For example, a website selling clothes might use the terms “jeans”, “dresses” and “footwear” to classify their products. By default, terms have a title, a slug and a description, but you can extent these options with the use of plugins.


A WordPress theme is collection of files which combine to produce the look and feel of a website without changing your actual content. For example, themes will determine the style of your text, the colour palette, and the structure of your footer area. Themes will also come packaged with plugins to add special features to your site.

You can search for themes in the WordPress Theme Directory to find one that suits your niche and will appeal to your target audience. You should read our guide to installing a WordPress theme for more information.


Positioned at the top of the admin screens, the toolbar contains useful links to various WordPress functions, such as shortcuts to view your comments or to add a new post, edit your profile or visit your site. The toolbar can be turned on/off from the User Profile Screen.

There two important toolbars in the block editor, both containing options to modify your post’s content.


The URL is the specific address of a site or file on the Internet. For example, the URL for this page consists of a protocol, domain name and slug:

Protocol: https://
Domain Name: media-studies.com
Slug: wordpress-glossary


Widgets are an integral part of WordPress because they add features and functions to your site without the need for coding experience or expertise. They are really useful for content you want to show on every page, such as a contact form or a list of your latest posts. Lots of plugins and themes come with their own widgets.

Further Reading

Thanks for reading!