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Beginner’s Guide to WordPress User Roles and Permissions

Do you want to better understand WordPress user roles and permissions?

WordPress comes with a user role management system that defines what a user can and can’t do on your website. Knowing these user roles and permissions are essential as your WordPress site grows.

In this guide, we’ll go in depth into WordPress user roles and permissions, so you can better manage your site.

Beginner's guide to WordPress user roles and permissions

What Are WordPress User Roles and Permissions?

Using WordPress user roles and permissions the right way gives you complete control over your WordPress website and can help improve your website security.

Users are people who have already registered on your site, and every user is assigned a specific role when their account is created.

A user role is made up of certain capabilities, or permissions, that spell out the actions they can take on your website.

Out of the box after you install WordPress, there are five default user roles available:

  1. Administrator
  2. Editor
  3. Author
  4. Contributor
  5. Subscriber

You can see a full visual comparison between each user role by viewing the infographic below:

View the WordPress user roles infographic

Alternatively, you can read the summary of each user role and their capabilities and permissions below.

1. Administrator Role

On a regular WordPress website, the administrator role is the most powerful user role. Users with the administrator role can add new posts, edit posts by any users, and delete those posts.

Plus, they can install, edit, and delete plugins and themes.

Most importantly, admin users can add and delete users, and change information about existing users, including their passwords.

This role is basically reserved for site owners and gives you the full control of your WordPress blog. If you are running a multi-user WordPress site, then you need to be very careful who you assign an administrator user role.

2. Editor Role

Users with the editor role in WordPress have full control on the content sections your website.

They can add, edit, publish, and delete any posts on the site, including the ones written by others. An editor can moderate, edit, and delete comments as well.

Editors do not have access to change your site settings, install plugins and themes, or add new users.

3. Author Role

Users with the author role can write, edit, and publish their own posts. They can also delete their own posts, even if they are already published.

When writing posts, authors cannot create new categories, but they can choose from existing ones. They can also add tags to their posts.

Authors can view comments even those that are pending review, but they cannot moderate, approve, or delete any comments.

They do not have access to site settings, plugins, or themes, so it is a fairly low-risk user role. The only exception is the ability to delete their own published posts.

4. Contributor Role

Users with the contributor role can add new posts and edit their own posts, but they cannot publish any posts.

When writing posts they can choose from existing categories and create their own tags.

The biggest disadvantage of the contributor role is they cannot upload files, so they can’t add images to their posts.

Contributors can also view all website comments, but they cannot approve or delete comments.

Finally, they don’t have access to website settings, plugins, or themes, so they cannot change any settings on your site.

5. Subscriber Role

Users with the subscriber role can login to your WordPress site, update their user profiles, and change their passwords.

They can’t write posts, view comments, or do anything else inside your WordPress admin area.

This user role is particularly useful if you have a membership sites, online store, or another site where users can register and log in.

If you want to create a custom login experience for your visitors, then see our guide on how to add a front-end login page and widgets in WordPress.

Bonus: Super Admin Role

This user role is only available on a WordPress multisite network.

Users with the super admin user role can add and delete sites on a multisite network. They can also install plugins and themes, add users, and perform network wide actions on a WordPress multi-site setup.

Think of it like having admin access to every single site in the network.

How to Customize Existing User Roles and Permissions in WordPress

The default WordPress user roles have capabilities that will work for most WordPress websites and blogs.

For example, if you run a magazine website, then the ‘Editor’ role can be assigned to senior staff, the ‘Author’ user role can be for junior staff, and the ‘Contributor’ role can be for guest writers.

But sometimes you might want to customize the permissions and capabilities assigned to the role for the specific needs of your website.

Like the default author role that lets users publish their own posts and also gives them the ability to delete their published posts. In this case, you may want to remove the capability that lets authors delete their posts.

There are some plugins that add specific roles to your website, such as a comment moderator user role plugin.

But if you want to customize your WordPress user roles, the easiest way is by using the Members plugin. It lets you simply create, manage, and change user roles across your website.

First thing you need to do is activate and install the plugin. For more details, see our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Upon activation, you’ll have a new menu item called ‘Members’ in your WordPress admin panel.

You need to go to Members » Roles and then click on the user role you want to edit.

In this example, we will be editing the ‘Author’ role, but you can choose the best role for your needs.

Select user role to edit

This brings you to a screen where you can fully customize the capabilities for that role.

To remove a capability for the role, simply check the ‘Deny’ box. If you want to add a new capability, then check the ‘Grant’ box.

Here, we will check the ‘Deny’ box for the Delete Posts user capability.

Edit user role capabilities

If you don’t check a box for an available role, then that user won’t have that capability.

Once you’re finished customizing your role, make sure to click the ‘Update’ button.

The changes you make will automatically apply to all existing users who have that role and all new users the role is assigned to.

How to Create Custom User Roles in WordPress

Another thing you can do is create completely custom user roles in WordPress with unique sets of capabilities.

To do this, we will be using the same plugin as above.

Simply navigate to Members » Add New Role and then give your new role a name.

In this case, we’ll create a developer role that we can give to a WordPress developer with certain permissions granted.

The left-hand column has different sections that have lists of available capabilities. We’ll select the ‘Appearance’ tab and then add capabilities to edit, install, and update themes.

Create new user role

After that, make sure to click the ‘Add Role’ button to save the user role.

Next, you can create a new user and assign that user the new role.

To do this go to Users » Add New and then fill in your new user information.

Add new user role

At the bottom of the screen, you’ll see a ‘User Roles’ section.

Simply check the boxes for the user roles you want to assign to the new user and then click the ‘Add New User’ button.

Assign new user role

Now, you’ve created a new custom WordPress user role and assigned it to a new user.

For more details, see our guide on how to add new users and authors to WordPress.

If you want to create a WordPress user role that’s only for moderating comments, then see our guide on how to allow blog users to moderate comments in WordPress.

We hope this article helped you understand user roles and permissions. You may also want to see our guide on how to register a domain name and our expert picks of the best free website hosting.

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Reader Interactions

89 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. What role is suggested if you want someone to be able to view/download the analytics of a woocommerce site but not be able to change and/or update the content of the site otherwise? Do the basic roles cover that or is that a custom role?

  2. Why do all articles on user permissions for WordPress never talk about what can be done with ‘pages’?. Seems like such a glaring omission from these articles. Am I missing something? Why do no articles not give info about permission related to building and editing pages?

  3. I am building a website in wordpress for a company. They want a dedicated page for sales or specials but they want to be the one’s handling updating that page each week. Can I give them permission only to post pictures and write add information for the sale items?

    • It sounds like you would want to set them as the author role and set them as the author of that page.

      Admin

    • No, but you would want to ensure you are not adding roles for every user normally as multiple users can use the same role.

      Admin

  4. Hi,
    Is it possible to customize the role of a shop manager? I would like to make some features accessible to them

    • Yes, we cover the default roles in this guide but more roles can be added or modified

      Admin

  5. Great writeup. Very close to what I was searching for.
    Mine is a bit different,
    I have a custom made plugin which I want to assign someone to manage the role. He needs to be entering data on a daily basis in dashboard of this custom plugin. But under the Type-Specific Capabilities, I dont see the name of this plugin. How can I achieve this then, when I cant see the custom plugin name?

    • You would want to reach out to the plugin’s creator for what permissions are required to be able to use your plugin.

      Admin

  6. Hi! I work for a site and I’m was assigned Editor. But for some reason, I can’t delete drafts, published articles, or media from Gallery that aren’t mine. The Trash/Delete option just isn’t anywhere on-screen. Is there anything I can do?

    • You would want to reach out to the admin of the site to ensure there haven’t been any changes to the permissions for your role.

      Admin

  7. Hi,

    We have a website where is possible to buy food
    We have customers and also we have accountant

    which premmision will be best for accountant to do his/her work

    we are using woocomerce platforme of ecomerce

    • You would want to take a look at the default WooCommerce roles added and you can add or modify the role depending on the access you want to give.

      Admin

  8. Hi,
    Thanks for the great article! it is neatly structured and presented.

    I would like to know is it possible to restrict access up to 3 blogs for users who dont subscribe to the website. Only after subscribing they get full access. If yes, how can I do it? Is there a plug in or I have to code?

  9. I have recently started a new job with a local law firm and we have purchased a form building tool for our WordPress site. My role permissions have been set to Editor, am I able to access it as an editor to build the new form(s) we need?

    • It would depend on the specific plugin. If you reach out to the plugin’s support they should let you know what permissions are needed for using the plugin

      Admin

  10. I have been a WordPress user for many years and decided several months ago to combine two blogs. At that time I added the user name of the other blog as a user on my primary blog. Now that second user appears as the author of posts. It appears as the writer of replies to comments. How do I change this?

    • If you do not want your additional user to be on the site you can delete that user and attribute all of their content to your a different user

      Admin

  11. Hi, do you know if there is a way to create a user who will have access to everything, but can edit nothing. I want to show someone how my website is built so we can talk about it, but I want to be sure he can’t mess anything up.

    • That would heavily depend on your site and the plugins you are using, you may want to send screenshots or share screens for what you are wanting.

      Admin

  12. Hi, I have just started my blog. And installed a new theme. My site is not even live yet … it still had the ‘coming soon” page, however today I discovered I have 308 subscribers under the ‘user’s title on my dashboard… how is that possible?

  13. And what if a disgruntled author goes to “edit” her post and then removes all the content and then click on “update” button.

    This would be a rare case but possible even if you disallow her to “delete published” posts.

    • If you are concerned about that, you could disable the ability to edit published posts

      Admin

  14. Hello, thank you for this great article.
    I have a question please.

    After modifying my author role to stop author from deleting their own post with this plugin, will the modification still be active when I disable or delete the plugin?

  15. i was searching for one of your articles in which you showed how to create user like Editorial Staff can you please give me link to that article. thanks

  16. I can see that there are more user categories now, in addition to the 5 mentioned here. Participant, Moderator, Spectator… Cant see the permissions for these! Any ideas where to find them?

    • If you have other plugins that add user roles those would likely be why you have the extra roles

      Admin

  17. Great post.. And great site. It’s my ‘Go To’ site, for everything I need, and have learnt so much.

    What I want to do, is create a Movie Mod User. So that they can Add Movies/Shows. But I don’t want to give all Admin permissions. They would only require to use the Plugin used to add these Movies/Shows. All it.would require them to do, is use the Import Movie/Show. Then once added, have the ability to edit the Movie/Show. So that they can add the Movie/Show Collection/Genre.

    Is there a plugin available that you know of, that gives permissions to use selected Plugin Admin abilities? I have tried Editor User. But it doesnt show the ‘Import’ option.

    Any advise is greatly appreciated.

    • It would depend on what you are using to import the movies, if it is a plugin you should be able to reach out to the plugin’s support for what permission is required to import the movie/show.

      Admin

    • You may want to ensure that the plugin was activated successfully on your site.

      Admin

  18. I have school chains in multiple cities and i want to each school have

    their login and password and add students in own schools records and

    admin have access all schools records.
    Its possible with wordpress or not.

    • It is possible but you would likely need to have a custom plugin created to do something that specific.

      Admin

  19. Good day!
    Thanks for the explanation. I was wondering is there also a date stamp when the user has registered?

    regards,

  20. i am using wholesale plugin. we want open manuel order from order woocommerce dashboard

    But when i add product wholesale prices are not shown. is it possible to make this wtih user roles plugins. if so which one should we use

    thank you

  21. Hi i want make a two type of login page first is customer and second is Service provider (like a amazon seller).

    service provider uplode it’s services , and it can edit it’s services.
    how i do that?

  22. Hi. I created some new users but they have yet to receive their email notification. How long does it take for that to be generated?

  23. Is it possible to setup a user with permission to edit only a particular page? I’m running a website for a Boy Scout troop, and I want the boys to be able to upload and rearrange photos on the gallery page, but not make any other changes to the site.

    • I’ve also problem related to your question, want to allow user only on specific plugin and page to post things.

  24. How can we remove underscore from users name in wordpress users tab?
    Like if name entered is First Second, it will appears as First_Second.
    Any fix.?

  25. Whenever my writers try to past an iframe into their stories it vanishes when saving. From a little bit of testing this occurs up to Editor level which also gives publishing ability — which I don’t want them to have.

    I’ve got both adminimize and user role editor installed. Staff writers have a custom user role editor setting of Staff Writers.

    How can I overcome this limitation on inserting iframes?

    Thank you

    • Hey John,

      The capability to add iframes is part of unfiltered_html capability. However, allowing user roles the ability to add unfiltered html is too risky and not recommended. You should look for other ways to manage this. For example, if this iframe embed is from a third party service provider, they they might already have a WordPress plugin.

      Admin

      • Thank you. Ordinarily I would agree. But these are inhouse writers who need this capability. The most common is Facebook video embeds getting the iframe from Embedded Video & Live Video Player.

        We also embed YouTube and other video in the body of the stories often and this explains why the html table that has been prepared for them to use by simply replacing the URL doesn’t work.

        The rest of what the different level of access – editor, copy editor, photo editor, contributor, and staff writer can see and access is regulated using adminimize and user role editor.

        What is the risk of giving unfiltered html access to inhouse staff?

        Thank you

  26. I am not getting a lot of “email subscribers” via the subscribe widget to my blog but I do receive a lot of “New user registration” notifications from WP of people that are set up as their user role as “subscribers” and so my WP admin has a list of these people and their email addresses.

    As far as I can tell, when I create a new post, no one with the user role “Subscriber” is being notified. Why else does WP give me their email address if not to notify them? Perhaps I am doing something wrong? How do I notify the hundreds and hundreds of people in this list?

  27. hi, I have many Editors on my website, how I can strict, I mean editors are not able to edit Admin post. I want this on my website

    Regards:
    Imtiaz Ahmed

  28. I have a question if I have 300 subscribers what does that mean? Does it mean people subscribed to make a comment? I have no idea where these came from as I only have a few actual comments posted. Does this mean they were all spammers that Akismet software rejected? So the comments did not show but they are all in my users list as subscribers to make comments?
    Or is this rss feed or what is it?

  29. The role attribute selection on my theme has both an Allow and a Deny column. If a particular attribute is only enabled when checked what is the purpose of the Deny column (twenty-sixteen)?

  30. Hi there,
    Great post!

    I created a custom role cloning the “administrator”, is it possible for administrators to change between the two? I can see the administrator can change all others’ role, but can it change its own through the back-end dashboard/menu?

    Thanks!

  31. Hi. Thank you for the post! Very helpful, but one more question….

    Can Contributor writers DELETE their articles when they’re published?
    What about when they’re pending?

    Let’s say they had a change of heart? I just noticed a contributor alter an article that I was already editing/pending. I didn’t think that was possible.

  32. Hi,
    I am facing issues with the user creation. I am looking to create an editor for my website but despite deactivating all plugins, changing passwords etc,for the new user – when I try to login in through the ‘New User’ credentials it says – “Sorry, you are not allowed to access this page.”

    Can you please help.

  33. Can I give permission to use a backup plugin but not other plugins? I see you can add more capabilities but I can’t figure out how to set it up for that. Thanks for any help.

  34. Hi, nice post, very useful. i’m a college student developing a site for publishing hostels information and also book into it using wordpress. i want to create custom agent/landlord roles in WP. please help

  35. Users with the subscriber user role can login to your WordPress site and update their user profiles. They can change their passwords if they want to. They cannot write posts, view comments, or do anything else inside your WordPress admin area.
    This user role is particularly useful if you require users to login before they can read a post or leave a comment.

    I don’t understand this. So if a subscriber is logged in can they or can’t they comment on a post?

  36. Great descriptions – thanks! Is there any way to set an Administrator role for individual sites on a multisite install? TIA, Jez

  37. hi
    i am collage student and i make the website on school on wordpress so i want to create the dynamic menus that was static.
    how can we do?

  38. Can you customize the Admin role (I’d live to remove some of the capabilities like adding/removing Users) within the standard WP install or do you need a plugin like this?

  39. Hi,

    I wants to upload video in my Website but the video size is 102 MB,
    And i don’t want to show that suggestion video which shows after end the video, like You tube.
    Is you have any idea about the Plugin or Site so i can link my video in website ?

    Thank You

  40. Could you change the Editors role to add/edit users. The permissions to the Admin role can be overwhelming.

    • Yeah I think that will be helpful! It will also be helpful if we can enumerate page levels of access for other page roles.

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