A WordPress Workflow for Assigning and Submitting Posts

This week we talked with a PublishPress customer who wanted to build an approval process for his website. His goal is to allow administrators to assign empty posts to authors, who can then add the content and pass them back to the administrator for approval. Here are the four steps in that workflow:

  1. Admin creates a post.
  2. Admin assigns the post to an author.
  3. Author adds content to the posts.
  4. Author submits the post to the Admin for approval.

In this guide, we'll explain how to set up this workflow on your WordPress site.

Step #1. Set up your site

We're going to use two plugins for this process, so please make sure you have these installed:

We will also need an Author account to test with, so please make sure you have created an Author account, as in the image below:

Author Setup
Author Setup

Step #2. Change the Capabilities for Authors

Now we're going to change the capabilities for the default Author role. If you don't want to modify this, you can duplicate the Author role and use the duplicate for this workflow.

  • Go to “Capabilities” in your WordPress admin menu.
  • Choose the “Author” role.
  • Under “Unique Capabilities for Post Types” in the sidebar, check the box saying “Enable the “Create” column for selected post types”. Click “Update”.
  • In the main area of the screen, put red Xs in all the boxes in the “Posts” row except for “Edit”.

By making these changes, we are blocking Authors from doing anything except editing posts that are assigned to them.

Author Capabilities Blocked

Step #3. Test the Workflow

In this step, we'll see if our workflow is set up correctly.

  • Log in to your Administrator account.
  • Go to the “Posts” screen.
  • Create a new post and assign it to the “Author” user.
  • Click “Save draft”. You will pass this post in Draft status to the Author
Post Assigned
Post Assigned
  • Log in to the Author account.
  • Go to the “Posts” screen. On this screen, you can only see the posts assigned to you. All other posts will be hidden.
  • Edit the post that is assigned to you. You will be able to make any changes you want, but will be unable to publish the post. When you click the “Publish” button, your only option will be “Submit for Review”. WordPress describes this as, “When you’re ready, submit your work for review, and an Editor will be able to approve it for you.” Here's a comparison of Draft vs Submit for Review.
Submit Review Author
Submit Review Author
  • Log in to the Administrator account.
  • Go to the “Posts” screen.
  • You will now see the submitted post marked as “Pending” and ready for your approval.
Admin Approval
Admin Approval

Step #4. Notifications for Administrators

Now that our workflow is ready, you can optionally add email notifications so that Administrators get notified of new posts to approve.

  • Install the PublishPress plugin.
  • Go to PublishPress > Notifications.
  • Click “Add New”.
  • Title: Notify Administrators of New Content from Authors
  • When to Notify: Choose “Draft” for the “Previous Status” and choose “Pending Review” for the “New status”.
  • Filter the content? Choose “Post” as the Post type.
  • Who to notify? Choose “Roles” and then “Administrators”.
Approval Email
Approval Email
  • Steve Burge

    Steve is the founder of PublishPress. He's been working with open source software for over 20 years. Originally from the UK, he now lives in Sarasota in the USA. This profile is generated by the PublishPress Authors plugin.

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  1. Instead of “Submit for review”, how to limit an author to submit to a custom post status, for example, “Senior review” ?

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