Welcome to the WordPress Block Editor: we hate it here. In case you just got it (like me) and have more or less understood how it works but insist on using the Classic block because Who Has the Time, I thought gathering a couple tips that helped me actually almost enjoy (gasp!) using it by now would be a good idea. They’re simple things but maybe you find something that helps!
1) Use a fixed toolbar
If you click on a block and every time it drives you crazy when the toolbar hovers over it, you can fix it to the top instead: click on the “…” on the upper right corner of the screen and select “Top Toolbar” (image on the left). See image on the right on how it will look like. The toolbar will stay fixed on the top of the screen even when you scroll down, so no need to scroll back up to use it!
2) Use keyboard shortcuts
If you hate clicking and searching all the time, you can use a few shortcuts to make your life easier:
- Enter / to search blocks, for example, if I type /image it will show the options below. Click on any of them to add as a new block.
You can see all shortcuts by clicking on the “…” on the upper right corner of the screen next to the green symbol, and then “Keyboard Shortcuts”, or by clicking Shift + Alt + H.
On a similar note, if you want to write a text and add blank lines, but don’t want to create a new paragraph block for every empty line, just use shift + Enter.
3) Create reusable blocks
This is one of the best features in my opinion in the block editor: you can save several blocks together (e.g: I used a star rating block, a few paragraphs and an image and saved them together as “Book Reviews”) and just add them the next time you need them.
First, add all the blocks as if you’re about to actually, say, write a review. Then select all the blocks and then click on the “…” on the Toolbar and then on “Add to Reusable Blocks”:
It should now show as a new block. On the example I mentioned above, I saved the “Book Review” block, which will show up as a block option when I search “/book“, like so:
I like to then convert them to regular blocks again, it makes it easier and more flexible to use (see image below). Otherwise, you can still edit the block for your post, but it will be more cumbersome AND it will change later if you decide to edit your reusable block.
(This is quite well-explained on Webnotes.)
Reusable blocks will be quite useful for any sort of post you have a repeatable template for: book reviews, best-of lists, movie reviews, weekly memes and so on.
I created one for my Weekly and Monthly Wrap Ups as well, which I can find on the Reusable section of the blocks.
You can edit these reusable blocks afterwards as well by going to the Reusable Block Manager:
4) Quickly change to similar blocks
I normally start adding texts and then I’m like huh this should be a header or a list instead of a paragraph, or add an image and change my mind and want to add a gallery instead. You can quickly change the type of block to a similar one on the toolbar (see below examples for paragraph and image).
On a similar note about images, you can also just copy and paste images from your folder or another website instead of uploading and it will automatically be added to your post as an image block plus uploaded to your media library.
You can also group several isolated images into a gallery by simply selecting all the images and then changing type to gallery as shown above!
5) Edit your scheduled tweet
A lot of bloggers like to add emojis, hashtags or tag authors/publishers/other bloggers on their scheduled tweet when the post gets published. To do that, go to Jetpack (the green symbol on the right upper corner of the screen) to see your scheduled tweets, and then you’re free to customize.
6) Play around with blocks
Okay, I’m a tiny bit of a geek but I’ve actually been enjoying playing around with the editor, even if it’s frustrating a lot of times. Some I think will be useful for book bloggers are:
- Star rating: particularly practical for reviews, obviously. AND it has half stars! I’ve noticed tat on my phone the half-stars don’t show and it rounds up (2,5 will show as 3 stars).
- Cover: If you want to add a personalized header to each book review and have no patience/talent for editing images for each post, it’s quite simple to use the Cover block, and looks very pretty! You can move the image up and down to change what part of it shows on the header, change the height of the image, add other blocks to it (like buttons, social media links). Below I added some social media icons as an example. It does not show so well on phones, however!
The Pisces by Melissa Broder
- Social Media Icons: since I mentioned them above, you can add links to your social media and include them in your reusable blocks (lots of bloggers use them on reviews, for example).
- Gifs: it’s quite easy to add gifs. You just add the Gifs block, type a search term (I, predictably, searched for “book” to get the Gif below). I don’t think you can change the size, though, perhaps on the Code Editor, but not on the normal toolbar. It also shows awkwardly on the phone.
- Poll: it’s something I recently tried and actually enjoyed, although most of my polls are normally done on Twitter.
It seems to me that the Block Editor aims to facilitate the life of visual users who want to perhaps make money out of their blogs (there are payment methods blocks, or that let you schedule appointments and so on), and for the regular lowkey book blogger there are only few useful things. Still, I am enjoying changing up my reviews template and try to decide for a final one.
The main drawbacks I’ve had so far:
- Not intuitive to use for Classic users (for example, you need to know where to find the manager for reusable blocks, which is a bit hidden)
- Not very forgiving of mistakes, especially with images.
- Does not allow for much flexibility when using blocks (for example putting a star rating inside a paragraph doesn’t work. The star rating is its own block and must be in a new line).
- Seemingly random allocation of some features (Twitter sharing is on the green Jetpack thingy?).
- I’d like to see some statistics blocks! Give us the option to make graphs.
- To use your blocks more flexibly you need to know how to code.
- The search function for links does not work reliably – I spent two weeks unable to link anything independently of the browser I used, and then suddenly it was fixed. Probably just a bug.
- I can also not see on the calendar which days I have posts planned. I pre-schedule most of my posts, so this is a nightmare: I have to have a calendar and a separate page with my planned posts on another tab to see when I can schedule my next posts. Before I could see which days I had posts scheduled AND which they were!
Let me know in the comments if you have other tips that could be useful as we try to get better at using the block editor!