User Roles and Capabilities on WordPress

Before you start adding new users to your WordPress website or blog, you need to understand the differences among the user roles because each user role is assigned a different level of access and grouping of capabilities to your blog, as follows:

  • Subscriber: This is the default role. Maintain this role as the one assigned to new users, particularly if you don’t know who’s registering. Subscribers get access to the Dashboard page, and they can view and change the options in their profiles on the Your Profile and Personal Options page. (They don’t have access to your account settings, however — only to their own.) Each user can change her username, e-mail address, password, bio, and other descriptors in her user profile. The WordPress database stores subscribers’ profile information, and your blog remembers them each time they visit, so they don’t have to complete the profile information each time they leave comments on your blog.

  • Contributor: In addition to the access Subscribers have, Contributors can upload files and write, edit, and manage their own posts. Contributors can write posts, but they can’t publish the posts; the administrator reviews all Contributor posts and decides whether to publish them. This setting is a nice way to moderate content written by new authors.

  • Author: In addition to the access Contributors have, Authors can publish and edit their own posts.

  • Editor: In addition to the access Authors have, Editors can moderate comments, manage categories, manage links, edit pages, and edit other Authors’ posts.

  • Administrator: Administrators can edit all the options and settings in the WordPress blog.

  • Super Admin: This role exists only when you have the Multisite feature activated in.

Use this table as a reference for the basic differences in roles and capabilities for WordPress users.

WordPress User Roles and Capabilities
Super Admin Administrator Editor Author Contributor Subscriber
Manage Multisite features Yes No No No No No
Add/edit users Yes Yes No No No No
Add/edit/install plugins Yes Yes No No No No
Add/edit/install themes Yes Yes No No No No
Manage comments Yes Yes Yes No No No
Manage categories, tags, and links Yes Yes Yes No No No
Publish posts Yes Yes Yes Yes No (moderated) No
Edit published posts Yes Yes Yes No No No
Edit others’ posts Yes Yes Yes No No No
Edit own posts Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Publish pages Yes Yes Yes No No No
Read Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

This table doesn’t offer exhaustive information, by any means. However, it covers the basic user roles and capabilities for WordPress, or the most common capabilities for each user role. For a full listing of user roles and capabilities, check out the WordPress Codex.