an image of actor Steve Guttenberg in character on sitcom The Goldbergs

The New Gutenberg Editor in WordPress: Will it Affect Your Site?


Big changes were recently rolled out by WordPress, the open source content management system that powers approximately one-third of all websites on the internet. Given WordPress’ popularity, it’s no surprise that there was some apprehension when major changes to the user interface were implemented, specifically the new editor, Gutenberg. Gutenberg, named for Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the original printing press (not to be confused with Steve Guttenberg, inventor of the Strategic Artificially Intelligent Nuclear Transport known as ‘Johnny 5’), aims to make the creation of posts easier by breaking each post up into blocks. Posts are created piece by piece, and like the Lego sets we played with as kids, the blocks all fit together to form a complete structure. 

In the former editor, all of the content went into one editing block. Each section had to be formatted and altered in such a way that it would work with the surrounding text without affecting the layout or the look of everything around it. Authors would have to add different text formats, images and multimedia all in one place, and ensure that each component worked in harmony. Customizing the look of each post could be difficult without a working knowledge of HTML, which was often used to tag sections of text with various display commands. Now, each section of text (or media) is in its own block, allowing the writer to format each block separately, using buttons rather than HTML tagging. In the image below, you can see just a few of the options for format styles a writer can assign to a specific block of text: 

 Once a style format is selected, you can further customize each block with colour, text size, and other standard formatting options (e.g. bold, underline, etc.). Because each block is separate, the choices made for one block have no impact on the blocks before and after, which makes editing much easier.  See example below of a block, in this case set to ‘Paragraph’ mode:

How Will the Gutenberg Editor Affect My Blog?

 Older posts, created prior to the newest update, will not be affected unless they are edited or updated, in which case the editor will default to the new editor, and so may need a few adjustments to the formatting. 

New posts won’t look any different to visitors to your website in most cases, but the creation of the content behind the scenes is quite different. Once you’re used to working with the block format instead of the single text window, the new format is actually quite user-friendly. With the ability to alter the format of each block independently, writers can make changes quickly that don’t impact the rest of the text on the page. For example, adding a quote simply requires the author changing the block format to the ‘Quote’ style, rather than playing around with indentations and margins that may impact the text above and below that section.

Gutenberg isn’t Perfect

While the new editor is quite user-friendly, we have noticed a few minor issues that there don’t appear to be fixes for quite yet. As a result, it’s possible that you may notice one or more of the following issues when reading or creating a post in Gutenberg:

  • Numbered lists 
    • On some sites, numbered lists take on a slightly different look from the rest of the post. While the entire post may be created with a font that’s grey, for example, the list in the middle may appear black. At this point there isn’t an option to change colours in a ‘list’ block, and so for now this may affect posts where a numbered list is required. Oddly, the same has not been the case for bulleted lists. 
    • Another issue with numbered lists is the inability to customize which numbers (or letters) are used. For example, if a list starts at 1, but then has sub-items labelled a), b) and c), Gutenberg does not allow us to customize how the main items and sub-items will be identified. Indenting a sub-item starts the count back at 1, and does not allow a customization to begin at a). 
  • Spacing issues
    • On a small handful of sites, the new editor seems to have some quirks with the site design, resulting in spacing issues in blog posts. This is rare, but it is possible that in some cases a line of text may break in an unexpected place. In some cases these issues can be fixed by removing extra spaces in the back end, but in others we are still working on a fix. 
  • General issues
    • As with any major change, quirks happen. One-off problems pop up unexpectedly and present us with the opportunity to learn more about Gutenberg and how it interacts with our various sites. Umbrella clients can rest assured that if and when this does occur, we will make it a priority to resolve the issue immediately.

 The new Gutenberg editor is a big change and will take some time getting used to but in the short time it’s been in use, the intuitiveness has made the transition relatively smooth. If anything, this new editor will likely mean that more people will be comfortable using WordPress, opening it up to those who may have been intimidated by HTML coding and the like. For those small issues still outstanding, we are actively working on fixes, and we greatly appreciate your patience!  

As always, we will continue to monitor trends in the digital space and will provide commentary on why and how this may impact lawyers and law firms. In the meantime, if you have questions about how you can maximize your presence online, help use social media to your advantage or use content marketing we can help. 

At Umbrella Legal Marketing, we understand the unique needs of the legal market, the ethical and practice standards that govern the profession, and how to effectively combine these specific demands with the realities of marketing in the social media and online age. If you would like to learn more about how we could assist you please contact us online or at 416-356-4672.