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Beginner’s Guide to WordPress Settings

So you have purchased a domain name, web hosting, and successfully installed WordPress. Now you may be wondering what you should do next.

Once you have logged into your WordPress website, you will see the WordPress admin area with the main navigation on the left and a toolbar at the top of the screen.

For newcomers, this can seem overwhelming trying to figure out where to start. But let us reassure you that once you become more familiar with WordPress, the easier it is to use to create amazing modern websites.

Before you start adding content and making blog posts, you’ll need to configure your WordPress settings.

In this guide, we will explain each of the various WordPress settings that you should configure after you have successfully installed WordPress.

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If you’d like to jump to the section you’re looking for, a hyperlinked table of contents is available.

To make this guide easy to follow, we have laid out this post to match the WordPress Settings option within the WordPress admin area. We will go through and explain each section one by one.

First, you’ll need to log into your WordPress admin area. Once you are logged in, the Dashboard from the main navigation on the left side should be selected and highlighted.

We know you are eager to start building your website so let’s get started.

1. General Settings

WordPress General Settings link

For this section, you need to have ‘General Settings‘ open. You can do this by clicking on ‘Settings‘ at the bottom left side of your WordPress admin area. General will automatically be selected.

Alternatively, you can hover over Settings with your cursor, then click on the settings page you wish to visit.

Site Title

This is where your Website title goes. If you entered a random website name when you installed WordPress, you can change it here.

Tagline

Here you can enter your website’s tagline. A tagline isn’t a catchphrase or motto. It is a short sentence that helps your website’s visitors understand what you do, what you are, and with what benefit.

If you are having trouble coming up with a good tagline, we recommend reading this article. There are some great formulas for creating a tagline, with examples.

WordPress Address (URL) & Site Address (URL)

Maybe you’ve never noticed but your website address can be set up in two different ways.

For example:

  • https://tarttweb.com
  • https://www.tarttweb.com

As you can see, one has the www prefix and the other doesn’t. But before you set this, you may want to check with your domain provider to see if there is an option to change this. If there is an option, you’ll want them to match.

There is no reason to choose one over the other. It’s all about preference. But once you choose one, you’ll need to stick with it for the life of your website.

Administration Email Address

You should already have an administrative email address entered into this field. This is the email address that WordPress will use to send you notifications, like when you have a new comment.

It is possible to change this if you need to. WordPress will send an email to your new address to confirm it.

Membership & New User Default Role

Here you can configure how WordPress handles new users. By default, new users are not able to register and will need to be registered manually. Most of the time, you will want to have this turned off until you have some type of registration and login process set up for new users.

WordPress General Settings Membership Roles

However, if you decide to turn this on, you’ll need to assign a new user default role. Below we explain each role:

Subscriber

This is the default role for a new user. The subscriber role enables new users to edit their profiles, change their passwords, and comment only. They are not allowed to do anything else in the WordPress admin area.

This role is useful for those who have a membership site, eCommerce store, or site where users can create an account and log in.

Contributor

The contributor role allows users to create, edit, and save their own posts but are not allowed to publish them.

They can choose from existing categories and add tags but are not allowed to upload images to their posts.

Users assigned this role can also view comments in the admin area but are not allowed to approve or delete them.

Contributors do not have any other access to the admin area, so they cannot change any website settings.

Author

Users assigned the author role can write, edit, publish, and delete their own posts.

Authors are not allowed to create new categories but can choose from existing ones and add tags of their choosing.

They are allowed to view comments but are not allowed to moderate, approve, or delete them.

Authors cannot access any website settings in the admin area.

Editor

Users assigned the editor role will have full access to the content sections of your website.

Editors can add, edit, publish, and delete any post or page on your site, including posts and pages written by others.

An editor can also moderate, approve, and delete comments but does not have any access to your site settings, themes, or plugins.

Administrator

The administrator role is the highest level a user can have. Users assigned this role can add new posts and pages, including editing and deleting them.

They can install, edit, and delete themes and plugins. Admin users can even add, edit, and delete users.

The administrator role should be reserved for site owners and only those who you want to give full access to your website.

Site Language

WordPress is a global CMS and supports many languages from around the world. If you speak a language other than English, you’re in luck.

From here, you can select your preferred language. Doing so will change the language for the WordPress admin area.

Timezone, Date Format, Time Format, & Week Starts On

The last four sections are all about time. For the timezone setting, you want to set your timezone to the nearest city in the same timezone as you.

If you can’t find a city near you that shares the same timezone, you can set it to a Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). If you are unsure about what your UTC timezone is, you can click here to find out.

Once you have finished setting your timezone, select the date and time format you would like your website to use. And for the ‘Week Starts On‘, select the first day of the week.

That’s it for the General Settings. Once you’ve completed your changes, be sure to click on the ‘Save Changes‘ button at the bottom.

2. Writing Settings

WordPress Writing Settings link

To configure the ‘Writing Settings‘, click on ‘Writing‘ on the left side of the admin area underneath ‘Settings‘.

Default Post Category

WordPress includes two default taxonomies which are categories and tags. You can assign these to each post you publish to give your site structure and organization, which also helps site visitors find the content they are interested in. You can use as many categories and tags as you want.

WordPress Writing Settings Default Post Category

Here you will choose the default category you want your posts to use. The default post category is only used when you forget to select a category before publishing a post.

If you’d like to set up a custom default category instead of using the ‘Uncategorized’ category, check out our guide on how to change the WordPress default category uncategorized.

Default Post Format

Depending on which theme you’ve decided to use, the post formats available to you may be different. Post formats are templates that dictate how each type of content gets displayed on your website’s front end.

WordPress Writing Settings Default Post Format

For example, if you run a photography blog and often share photo galleries, you may want to use the Gallery post format. However, it is not necessary to change this at all. This is purely an aesthetic feature.

Post via email

This section allows you to publish content from an email address. WordPress allows you to configure a specific email address so that when it receives a message, it will automatically publish the contents as a post on your website.

This can be useful if you are temporarily locked out of your WordPress admin area and need to publish a post. This functionality is also useful when you want to publish content from your mobile phone.

The downside here is that you lose out on advanced formatting options. Content published through email will appear as a plain text post.

To configure this setting, you will need a POP3-enabled email address that will only be used for this purpose. The email address you use should be private and only used for posting.

WordPress Writing Settings Post via Email

Once you have entered your information in each of the fields, click on the ‘Save Changes‘ button at the bottom. Then you can try it out to see how it works.

Update Services

This setting allows you to notify third-party services about new content that goes live on your website. This feature tells search engines and newsfeeds about new posts on your site.

To use this feature, you’ll need to add some services and newsfeeds you want to ping whenever you update your site. Using this feature can help increase your site’s visibility and keep your audience up to date.

Keep in mind that notifying search engines too often can have a negative effect on your website if you post daily or weekly.

Remember to smash the ‘Save Changes‘ button at the bottom.

3. Reading Settings

WordPress Reading Settings link

If you are not already on the WordPress ‘Reading Settings‘, go ahead and click on ‘Reading‘ underneath ‘Settings‘ from the left side of the admin area.

Your homepage displays

The first part of the reading settings determines what gets displayed as your site’s homepage. There are two options:

  1. Your latest posts
  2. A static page

Choosing ‘Your latest posts‘ will display your recent blog posts listed in chronological order on your home page. When visitors land on your site’s primary URL (www.yourwebsite.com), they will see your blog posts listed from newest to oldest.

Choosing ‘A static page‘ lets you select a specific page as your homepage.

WordPress Reading Settings Homepage Displays

With the static page option, you can designate a custom page to be used as your homepage and a page used for your blog posts, which you can add to your website’s navigation menu.

Depending on the type of website you are building and its goals, you’ll probably want to create a page for your homepage and a page for your blog posts. Once you have finished adding your pages, you can come back here, select them, and click on the ‘Save Changes‘ button at the bottom.

Blog pages show at most

This section determines the number of blog posts shown before users are required to click over to a new page. The default is ten, which is a good number to stick with. Feel free to adjust this number to your preference.

However, the more posts your website has to load per page, the slower the page speed and loading time will be, which will significantly impact your user experience.

Syndication feeds show the most recent

This setting controls the number of posts included in your site’s RSS feed. Users can subscribe to your RSS feed to gain access to a list of your published posts, listed in chronological order. When new content gets added to your site, the feed updates automatically, keeping readers informed.

RSS feeds can be viewed by an RSS reader. Below are a few of the top readers:

RSS Feed readers allow users to consume feeds from multiple sources and read them in a single location.

For each post in a feed, include

This setting determines how much content your feed will display. There are two options, Full text or Excerpt.

Typically you’ll want to use excerpts. This option will give readers just enough content to grab their attention. However, they must visit your site to read the full post. This way, you will still have some conversion opportunities.

Search engine visibility

The final option for the WordPress reading settings is a checkbox for search engine visibility. This option does two things.

If this box is checked, WordPress will mark every page on your site with a line of code that instructs search engines not to index your website. It also modifies your robots.txt file, which is used by search engines as a reference, not to crawl or index your site.

However, it is up to the search engine to honor the request. This means your website may still get indexed regardless of your request.

We recommend leaving this option unchecked, which tells search engines to index your site. Below are some exceptions.

Discourage search engines:

  • If your website is currently being built.
  • If your site is being used at a company internally.
  • If your site is private for friends and family.

Once you have made your changes, don’t forget to click the ‘Save Changes‘ button at the bottom of the page.

4. Discussion Settings

WordPress Discussion Settings link

To get started, open the ‘Discussion Settings‘ in your WordPress admin area. To do this, click on ‘Discussion‘ underneath ‘Settings‘ from the left side of the admin area.

The Discussion Settings are mostly about comments. WordPress includes a comment section by default on every post. Comments can be enabled or disabled for all posts. They can also be turned on or off on individual posts and pages.

Default post settings

The first section on this page is the default post settings. The first two options are about pingbacks and trackbacks. If you link to another website within a post or comment, WordPress will send a ping or notification in an attempt to notify the website of the link.

If the other website is also a WordPress site, they will see a notification in their comment moderation queue.

To turn off ping notifications from your site, you’ll want to uncheck ‘Attempt to notify any blogs linked to from the post.

Unchecking ‘Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks) on new posts‘ will block pings from other sites to yours.

WordPress Discussion Settings Default Post Settings

The last option in this section allows you to turn off WordPress comments on all new posts. If you choose to disable comments, you can still enable comments for individual posts.

Other comment settings

This section provides more advanced control over comments.

WordPress Discussion Settings Other Comment Settings

Comment author must fill out name and email

The first option enables you to force users to enter a name and an email to leave a comment. This can help reduce spam and trolling. It also can help with building an email list and reaching out to users seeking support.

Users must be registered and logged in to comment

With this option, you can force users to register and log into your site before being allowed to leave comments. This is an excellent choice for online communities and websites that use memberships.

Automatically close comments on posts older than X days

Here you can choose when you want to shut down comments after a post has been live for a specific number of days.

This is a way to minimize your moderation workload and keep your pages running faster by preventing comment overload. This way, you only have to worry about moderating comments on your most recent posts.

Cookie Opt-ins for Comments

Choose whether to allow comment author cookies, which saves the comment author’s information in their browser. This allows them to leave comments easier in the future.

Enable Nested comments

Here you can allow users to reply to each others’ comments and create threads within the discussion section.

Comment Pagination Options

Choose how you would like to organize and display comments once they reach a certain volume.

WordPress Discussion Settings Comment Pagination Options

The last option in this section allows you to define the chronological order of how comments will appear. By default, WordPress shows older ones first, which most users are familiar with.

Email me whenever

In this section, the first checkbox lets you select how you would like WordPress to notify you when site visitors leave new comments. By default, you will receive an email whenever a reader posts a comment.

The second checkbox lets you select whether an email gets sent when a comment is held for moderation. By default, new comments are automatically held for moderation.

When you are running a new site with minimal traffic, keeping email notifications on is fine. However, if your site gets a lot of traffic, notifications will quickly start taking over your inbox.

Before a comment appears

The two options here are to manually approve every comment that comes in or to only manually approve comments from new users. When your site is new, you may want to have both options selected. Otherwise, you risk your comment section becoming overloaded with spam.

Comment Moderation

In this section, you can fine-tune what’s allowed in your comment section. You can hold comments for moderation if they include a set number of links which can help decrease spam.

WordPress Discussion Settings Comment Moderation

In the text area, you can list specific words, email addresses, and IP addresses that will trigger them to be moved to the moderation queue. This can help you filter out submissions that may be offensive or malicious.

Disallowed Comment Keys

This section is similar to the one above, except that comments automatically get moved to the trash instead of the comment moderation queue. So, just like before, make a list of specific words, email addresses, and IP addresses that you want automatically moved to the trash.

Avatars

The last section of the Discussion Settings is about avatars. By default, WordPress enables avatars for users that share their thoughts on your website. If a user has a Gravatar account, WordPress will use that to display a profile photo for a user.

Avatar Display

Here you can enable or disable comment author avatars, which get displayed with the comment.

Maximum Rating

This option allows you to set the highest rating of gravatar you allow to be displayed.

Default Avatar

For users without their own custom avatar, you can choose to display a generic logo or a generated one based on their email address.

If your site allows users to register for an account, you may even want to offer them a way to upload an avatar.

That’s it for the Discussion Settings. Once you’ve finished making your changes, click on the ‘Save Changes‘ button at the bottom of the page.

5. Media Settings

WordPress Media Settings link

To get started, open the ‘Media Settings‘ in your WordPress admin area. To do this, click on ‘Media‘ underneath ‘Settings‘ from the left side of the admin area.

This section allows you to control the WordPress media upload settings. Here you can adjust the size and the organization of media files added to your website.

Image sizes

When you upload an image to WordPress, it automatically creates three additional sizes: thumbnail, medium, and large, which helps simplify the process of having to resize images. These default sizes get used throughout your site, depending on your theme.

WordPress Media Settings Image Sizes

For example, you may want to use large images for featured images, hero sections, and sliders. On the other hand, you probably want to use thumbnails for a recent post widget.

So you’ll need to figure out what image sizes you will be using throughout your site and set them here. If you decide you don’t need an additional size, you can set the values to ‘0’, and WordPress will skip it.

There is also another option underneath the thumbnail size: Crop thumbnail to exact dimensions. Typically thumbnails are proportional (equal width and height). Enabling this option allows you to set different thumbnail sizes, like if you wanted rectangular images.

If you have already uploaded some images before setting your image sizes, you’ll need to use a plugin like regenerate thumbnails.

Uploading Files

This section only contains one option: Organize my uploads into month- and year-based folders. When this option is selected, WordPress will organize all your media files into folders based on the year and month they were uploaded.

This will make finding specific files easier to locate. If you leave this option unchecked, WordPress will upload all your media files to the upload folder with absolutely no organization.

6. Permalink Settings

WordPress Permalink Settings link

To get started, open the ‘Permalink Settings‘ in your WordPress admin area. To do this, click on ‘Permalinks‘ underneath ‘Settings‘ from the left side of the admin area.

Permalinks, short for permanent links, is the permanent URL to your site, pages, posts, categories, tags, and any other content that requires a URL, such as custom post types.

Optimizing your permalink or URL structure can play a big part in your site’s long-term success, including SEO rankings and user-friendliness.

Common Settings

Here you can choose how you would like your permalink structure to look. There are five permalink structure presets.

  • Plain – WordPress uses the Post ID in a query string as the slug.
  • Day and Name – This structure permalink will show the year, month, and day, with the post title slug following.
  • Month and Name – Same as above, excluding the day
  • Numeric – Instead of using a query string, this structure uses the Post ID under a generic Archives permalink.
  • Post Name – This structure uses the post title slug after the primary domain.

The last option enables you to set up a custom permalink structure that includes ten different structure tags you can use.

WordPress Permalink Settings Custom Structure
  • %year% – four-digit publication year
  • %monthnum% – two-digit publication month
  • %day% – two-digit publication day
  • %hour% – two-digit, 24-hour format
  • %minute% – two-digit publication minute
  • %second% – two-digit, literal second this post went live
  • %post_id% – Post ID from the WP database
  • %postname% – the post-name slug, A sanitized version of the post title
  • %category% – sanitized version of the category name
  • %author% – post author’s name

Once you have set the permalink structure for your site you’ll typically want to let it that for the lifetime of your site.

Also, we should note that when you’re considering how you want your permalink structure. Posts and Pages both work differently. Posts will use the permalink structure you choose and Pages will always use the post name.

Optional

In this section, you can assign a custom name for your category and tag URLs. For example, if you wanted to change categories, you could enter Topics into the ‘Category base‘ field and the same for the ‘Tag base.’

When you’ve completed your changes, smash the ‘Save Changes‘ button at the bottom of the page.

7. Privacy Settings

WordPress Privacy Settings link

This section is about your privacy policy. To get started, click on ‘Privacy‘ underneath ‘Settings‘ from the main navigation on the left.

The first option is ‘Create a new Privacy Policy Page.’ Clicking on the ‘Create‘ button will create a new page that includes a privacy policy template you can use to create your own privacy policy. However, you will need to read through and make any necessary changes.

The second option, ‘Change your Privacy Policy page,’ is used to select or change the page you wish to use as your privacy policy. Simply use the dropdown menu to ‘select your page,’ then click on the ‘Use This Page‘ button.

Also, at the top of this page, there are two tabs. One is ‘Settings‘, and the other is ‘Policy Guide.’

If you click on the ‘Policy Guide‘ tab, there is a ‘Privacy Policy Guide‘ that explains each section to help you create your own privacy policy.

Wrapping Up!

Alright! You made it to the end of our incredibly long beginner’s guide to WordPress settings. Although there are a lot of tasks to do many of them are quick so it won’t be long until you are up and ready to start publishing content. Understanding the WordPress settings and how they work is an important part of establishing a successful website.

If, you found this article helpful, let us know in the comments section, follow us on social media, or subscribe to our newsletter for more. If you need a guide or article written, contact us and select article request in the dropdown.

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Editorial Team

The Editorial Team at TarttWeb is a group of passionate people that love to help others, led by Jeff Tartt.

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