A Checklist in WordPress

How to Add a Checklist for Publishing Content in WordPress

Last Updated on by Michael Brockbank

Regardless of how long you’ve been using WordPress, sometimes it’s easy to forget to add things to a post before hitting the Publish button. It can be quite embarrassing depending on the situation. Can a checklist in WordPress help?

Today, I’ll show you how to add a checklist to help you avoid missing vital elements you want to add.

The best part is that WordPress won’t let you publish the post if the requirements you set are not met. This means no more having to update the post immediately because you forgot a featured image, backlinks, or your AdSense code.

How a Checklist in WordPress Helps You

I can’t count the number of times when I’ve hit the publish button only to see something I forgot to add to the post. Usually, it’s the advertising block from Advanced Ads, the header image, or the excerpt text.

Now, things like this are pretty easy to fix. You just add what you forgot and hit the Update button. But what about those people who visit the post as soon as it’s live?

For example, I use OneSignal Push Notifications. This means people are notified as soon as content is available, and many subscribers visit the page almost immediately.

In turn, this means those blog supporters don’t see the thing I forgot to add. I miss out on further engagement, income, or otherwise put out an incomplete piece that could cause those followers to, well, unfollow.

Using a checklist can make sure I don’t lose any of that momentum for the blog.

What about when I’m writing reviews? I can set up a checklist to ensure I’m including the most prominent information a reader might need before buying a product.

Adding a Checklist for WordPress Posts

For this tutorial, I’m going to show you how to use PublishPress Checklists. It’s not an overly popular plugin, but it works exceptionally well. And the free version of the tool may be all that you’ll need.

NOTE: This particular plugin has a few issues when running with the Classic Editor and Yoast SEO. Oddly enough, it may disable the Yoast plugin within a post. However, it works perfectly in the default WordPress Gutenberg editor.

1. Install PublishPress Checklists

From the WordPress dashboard, go to Plugins and click, “Add New.”

Add New Plugin

Using the search field, enter “PublishPress Checklists.”

PublishPress Checklists

This will bring up a lot of other plugins by PublishPress. And they have some interesting tools you can add to WordPress, so it might be worth checking out later.

Install and activate the checklist plugin.

Activate PublishPress

2. Adjust Your Settings

Before we configure what will show on the checklist in WordPress, we’ll adjust the settings of the plugin.

Go to Checklists and click, “Settings.”

PublishPress Settings

This next page only has a few settings available. Essentially, you can choose to enable the plugin for posts, pages, and guest authors. Each of these post types have their own set of tasks to fill out.

You can also choose to show a warning icon above the “Publish” button (which I’ll show in a moment) or disable the status row in the quick edit view.

Make the changes you feel are right for your website. For this tutorial, I’m going to leave them as their default values. This is because I only want the checklist to appear on posts.

Checklist Settings

If you buy the pro version of the plugin, you’ll get more features for the tool. But, we’re only focusing on the free version in this tutorial.

Click the “Save Changes” button when you’re done.

3. Create Your Checklist

Click on the “Checklists” in the left admin panel of WordPress.


PublishPress Checklists for WordPress comes with a list of the most popular elements for creating content. For instance, you can set:

  • the number of characters in the post title.
  • how many words the post needs.
  • any number of categories and tags.
  • how many internal and external links there needs to be.

And much more.

Checklist Items for WordPress

PublishPress also detects certain plugins and will add specifics to this list. For instance, if you have Yoast SEO installed, you can set the Yoast Readability and SEO Analysis scores as a requirement.

Creating a required item

When adding things to your checklist for WordPress to use, you can set them as Disabled, Recommended, or Required.

A requirement prevents the content from being published unless it is met. A recommended item will show the alert above the Publish button, but will still let you publish the piece.

Let’s say we want all posts to have a minimum of 1200 words.

Find the task you want to fill out. In this case, I’m setting the “Number of words in content” task. For this example, I want to make it a requirement.

If you want to change any other item in the list, you can use the drop-down to set its requirement level.

Set Requirements

Next, click into the “Who can ignore the task” box. This lets you choose whether certain WordPress roles are exempt from the requirement. In this case, I’m leaving it blank, which means everyone needs to adhere to the number of words rule.

These roles are based on what you have set in WordPress. This means you can add custom roles at a later date should you decide to give someone exempt status for the checklist.

Set User Roles

Set the minimum and maximum for the item. In my example, I am setting the minimum number of words to 1200 and leaving the maximum blank. This means there is no maximum limit.

Set Checklist Values

Once you’ve made all the changes you want, just scroll down to the bottom of the list and click the “Save Changes” button.

Adding a Custom Item

What if you wanted to add a custom item to your checklist? PublishPress gives you the option to add more tasks. However, these tasks do not complete automatically like the ones above.

Instead, you must check them off manually in the piece of content.

For this example, let’s say I want to create a reminder to add advertisements to my content.

At the bottom of the checklist screen, click the “Add custom task” button.

Add Custom Task

Add the name of the custom task. This is what will show in the editor.

Add Custom Name

Select the requirement level. In this case, I want it to be required to add AdSense.


I’m going to leave the “ignore role” box empty because I want everyone involved to adhere to this task…even myself.

The last box is who you can set to mark the task complete. This also goes by user roles and is a great feature if you want editors or admins to check the task from the checklist in WordPress.

Think of it like checking the author’s work.

In this specific situation, I’m going to leave this field blank as well. This means anyone creating the content can check it off as complete.

You can add as many custom tasks as you want. Once you’re done, just click the “Save Changes” button at the bottom.

4. Create Your Content

All that’s left now is to create your content. Open up a post or create a new one. Today, I’m going to create a new post.

On the right, you’ll see a red exclamation point above the publish button. This means the requirements of the checklist in WordPress are not complete.

Publish Warning

The idea is to complete the checklist to get rid of that red checkmark. And if you have any items in the list set to required, users will not be able to actually publish the article.

This prevents you from pushing out a post prematurely.

If you scroll down in the editor for the Block, you’ll see the checklist. The items that are red are what need completed. Tasks that are complete will show as green with a checkmark.


If you have custom tasks, click the checkbox to complete them.

Check Custom Tasks

Otherwise, most of your tasks will check themselves off automatically once completed. So, if I were to write more than 1200 words, the task item would turn green with a checkmark.

What if the Checklist is Smushed?

Smushed Checklist

I’ve only seen this happen on my testing site. Somehow, the checklist is being squished in WordPress. However, if you click on the “Publish” button at the top, you’ll see the checklist in whole.

Visible Checklist

Unfortunately, I’m not sure what causes this problem. I use this plugin on four of my blogs without a single issue. If your checklist gets squished, you might have to contact PublishPress directly.

As soon as I figure out a fix, I’ll update this tutorial.

The only thing I can think of would be that I’ve removed and reinstalled this plugin twice. Perhaps something is causing the plugin to break after a re-install and without cleaning the database.

Ideas for Your Checklist

Adding a checklist to WordPress can help in a lot of different ways. As I said earlier, it helps me remember to add certain things before I hit the publish button.

Some other ways you can use it include:

  • Ensure certain SEO practices are added to each piece of content.
  • Adding affiliate banners or links to every post.
  • Adding a certain number of images.
  • Allowing for an editor to check off a writer’s work before publishing.
  • including custom scripts or embeds for the article.

There’s really no limit to what you can add to a checklist to streamline your writing.

Personally, I use it to make sure I have more than 1200 words per post, three internal and external links, at least one tag, and at least one category.

Over time, I’m sure you’ll discover your own requirements and recommendations depending on your site and target audience.

Improve Productivity and Efficiency

A checklist in WordPress can go a long way to improving productivity and efficiency. It can also help alleviate embarrassing mistakes or forgetting certain money-making platforms.

And since something like PublishPress Checklists runs in the background, it doesn’t impact the front-end performance or speed of your site.

What kind of performance-enhancing plugins do you like to use on your blog?

Michael Brockbank
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