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Gutenberg Editor Formatting

Gutenberg Editor Formatting elements missing

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I’m still not a fan of the Gutenberg editor that is coming to WordPress 5, but as a theme developer, I have to adapt. What I am discovering are critical Gutenberg editor formatting elements are missing. This is a content editor to create content for posts and pages. Apparently a drop cap and strikethrough function is more important than the ignored items missing from this editor.

My Own User Experience with Gutenberg Editor Formatting

As mentioned, I am a theme developer, so I have to adapt to the changing environment—WordPress for example. So in the near future, people will be using WordPress with the choice of the Classic or Gutenberg editor. Some people will like it while others will loathe it. The truth is, this editor is not for everyone and every website. Based on what I see, this is an editor for simple blogging where the content you create is not complex.

However, let me go through a few of my own experiences when using it for Gutenberg editor formatting of my content. For the record, I’ve been using it steadily for about 4 weeks now with a theme shop website as well demo sites. Having this much usage has given me more insight into the good and bad of this new direction WordPress has taken. Let me begin with what I actually like and then I will follow up with what I don’t like.

Things I Like

  • The blocks are better than how shortcodes are used with the classic editor
  • The default blocks in Gutenberg means we can stop coding extra elements into a theme or plugin
  • I work with HTML code a lot so the addition of a custom HTML block is a dream with syntax highlighting (more on this in a moment)
  • The columns block (although it still needs more work)

Things I Don’t Like

  • I have to search around for settings and functions while creating content. Elements are hidden away.
  • Too many mouse clicks, even for simple content
  • Some blocks are still finicky to customize
  • The editor is missing crucial content elements like underline, the ability to colourize a word or highlight, no super/subscript….

There are of course many other issues I am not a fan of, but strictly to the editor itself, my list of likes and dislikes will expand as I continue to use it.  There are times I think about converting my blog to use Joomla, but we will see how things go. Right now for this blog, I decided to switch back to the Classic editor.

Regarding the Custom HTML Block

Out of everything, the custom HTML block was my single most favourite element because it allowed me to directly create code. The real bonus was that it had syntax highlighting—this colourizes the source code:

Gutenberg html block

However, since version 4.0, the Gutenberg editor team decided to strip the block of syntax highlighting out. To quote one of the team coders:

…it had to be removed due for technical reasons but the hope is to bring it back at some point.

Disappointing to say the least, and saying there is hope to bring it back at some point tells me, good luck with that. The keyword/phrase is “at some point“.

Now for the Really Important Stuff

I find it crazy to add a strikethrough element on the paragraph block, but they neglected (or refuse) to add more important content for Gutenberg editor formatting:

  • Underline – There are times when people write, they want to underline an important phrase or group of words within a sentence.
  • Colour a Word – I didn’t discover this until the other day when I was writing tutorials and suddenly realized there’s no way to colour a word, only the whole paragraph!
  • Highlight – I know there are many times people will highlight a word or a group of words within a sentence or paragraph; not here.
  • Subscript and Superscript – This one really puzzles me that there is no superscript or subscript available. To be fair, this doesn’t exist in the Classic editor either; you need a third party editor.
  • Symbols (Character Maps) – I can guarantee you that a lot of people use symbols; I’m one of them. Exists in the Classic editor, but not Gutenberg.

This is what we have right now:


Even before the Gutenberg editor came to fruition, we still had to contend with a really bad editor, what we can now refer to as the Classic editor. Horrible to say the least and even it was missing important content and format elements.

A Joomla Editor

I am one person that uses the Joomla CMS, and have for over 10 years. The default editor is not perfect either but people had the option to use a third party editor called the JCE Editor. Super powerful and ready for practically any kind of content. Here is a screenshot (shrunk down to fit) of the JCE editor in Joomla:

JCE Editor

As you can see, it’s fully loaded, perhaps with some elements that most don’t need visible, but the editor can be customized; choose what you want. The key factor here is that everything you need is right in view and easily accessible. If you want to see a breakdown of the JCE editor, you can check out the editor buttons page for it.

Sorry everyone, the JCE editor is only available if you use Joomla.

What a Content Editor is Really For

A Content Editor is a tool added to content management systems and give you the ability to create all aspects of content. This includes writing, media management from within the post or page, and presentational aspects of such content.

When it comes to creating content for your website or blog, one of the most important tools is having the best content editor possible. Doesn’t matter if you are on Joomla, Drupal, or WordPress, content is always quoted as “Content is King“. In order to write and create amazing stories, you need all the available elements that help format your content. To omit several key elements restricts that capability.

Basically, we need to have the ability to create all kinds of content and to format it as it needs it. Gutenberg editor formatting is extremely limited, but perhaps these elements will be added. Just have to keep reminding myself that it’s still in development.

There is a Solution for Your Gutenberg Formatting

I have talked about the fact we are missing Gutenberg editor formatting elements, but there is one solution currently available. If you look in the block list, you will find that a Classic editor block exists. Clicking on it will load a classic editor block into your page where you can then use the editor’s given elements for additional formatting.


Great for the short-term, but if you plan to use this a lot, it almost defeats the purpose of using Gutenberg, right? However, it is a solution, although temporary, to give you a few more format options with content.


One thing to note is that even the classic editor does not have a comprehensive list of formatting available.

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