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WordPress Users Roles and Capabilities

WordPress is designed to manage content in huge quantities. You do not have to be an expert to notice how many of the administration capabilities are related to the content publishing - pages, articles, comments, permalinks, categories, tags, authors, custom post types, taxonomies, media, archives, searching, previous and next navigation etc.

WordPress creators are also aware that huge content is not created by a single user, so they have implemented the role concept - different users get different roles with specific levels of access to functionality and resources.

WordPress has six pre-defined roles: Super Admin, Administrator, Editor, Author, Contributor and Subscriber. Each role is allowed to perform a set of tasks called Capabilities.

wordpress users roles capabilities

The Super Admin role allows a user to perform all possible capabilities. Each of the other roles has a decreasing number of allowed capabilities.

WordPress Roles Explained

Super Admin

The Super Admin role encompasses every possible task that can be performed within a Network of virtual WordPress sites.

wordpress users roles capabilities

wordpress users roles capabilities

In the case of single site WordPress installation, Administrators are, in effect, Super Admins.

The capabilities of Administrators differs between single site and Multisite WordPress installations.

Administrators of single site installations have access to additional admin capabilities such as ones that Super Admin has in a Multisite (outside those to manage network, of course).

Further in the article we mean only administrator user role in a single WordPress installation when it is mentioned.


Administrators are the only users capable to manage themes, plugins, users and settings, to manage all other users’ posts and comments:

wordpress users roles capabilities

wordpress users roles capabilities


Editors have complete access to all publishing tools – pages, posts, comments and media. They can manage the posts and comments of all other user:

wordpress users roles capabilities

wordpress users roles capabilities

Editors do not have access to Appearance, Plugins, Users and Settings menus.


Authors can publish and manage only their own posts and can only read comments:

wordpress users roles capabilities

wordpress users roles capabilities

Authors cannot access and manage Pages and can only read comments.


Contributors only can access and manage their own posts but cannot publish them. Contributors’ posts are submitted for review and can only be published by administrator or editor:

wordpress users roles capabilities

wordpress users roles capabilities

To avoid conflict in case of editing the same post at the same time by editor and administrator WordPress locks down the post during the editing process.

wordpress users roles capabilities

The editor may interrupt the administrator (as well as the opposite), but in this case WordPress will show a clear warning:

wordpress users roles capabilities

Contributors cannot access Media library and can only read comments.


Subscribers can only manage their profile:

wordpress users roles capabilities

Subscribers can only login to a WordPress website and leave comments without having to enter their details every time. This role is useful for people who frequently read a blog and are actively commenting.

The subscriber role can also be used to deliver additional content to users such as newsletter or access pages and posts that would otherwise be locked.

Upon installing WordPress, an Administrator account is automatically created.

The default role for new users can be set in Administration > Settings > General:

wordpress users roles capabilities


WordPress roles are a highly thought-out and technically applied concept that contributes to the high reputation of the software and to the reputation of its creators.

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