I Can’t See the Author Dropdown Box in WordPress

Authors Box

This week, one PublishPress user asked us about an interesting WordPress problem.

They could not see the Author option when they were writing posts. This is how the Author dropdown normally appears:

Author Box
Author Box

They could not even enable the “Authors” box if they went to the “Options” panel in Gutenberg:

WordPress Gutenberg options panel

And the “Authors” feature was also missing from the “Quick Edit” area of WordPress. Normally, you will see an “Authors” dropdown when you click “Quick Edit” for a post.

WordPress quick edit

So what is happening here? Where did the “Authors” feature go?

It turns out there are three likely explanations:

Explanation #1. You only have one Author

This is what happened to our PublishPress user. They only had one user who was in a user role with the ability to write posts.

They were an “Administrator”. However, all of the other users on the site were “Subscribers” and did not have any permission to write posts.

Because there is only one possible author for each post, WordPress automatically hides the “Authors” feature.

There is one caveat: it is possible for the “Authors” feature to appear if someone else is chosen as an Author, but has now been moved to the “Subscriber” role.

For more details on the default user roles on how this can happen, check out these links.

Explanation #2. You are a Subscriber or Contributor

The Subscriber and Contributor roles are the lowest two roles in WordPress. They have the fewest permissions. This post has details on the technical side of user role levels.

Subscribers can not write or edit any content. So they can not even access the “Posts” screen, let alone see the Authors box.

Contributors can write content, but they only have access to their own Posts. They are now allowed to interact with content written by other users. So they are also denied access to the Authors box.

If you want to allow a role like Contributors to see the Authors box, you can give do this by giving them the “Edit Others” permission. You can do this with the PublishPress Capabilities plugin.

Explanation #3. Custom post types

Many custom post types don't have support for authors. Here's how to add authors to any custom post type.

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Comments (8)

  • Multiple Authors metabox is superior to WordPress’s not just because of it’s ability to select many users and showing an avatar, but also because of ease/concise display. When you have thousands of users it would be much harder to find on WP’s default dropdown due to scrolling a huge list versus Multiple Author’s AJAX search results.

  • Thank you so much for this. I had only one user on my site during development, and couldn’t figure out why the author dropdown wasn’t appearing on the admin panel. I switched themes, deactivated all plugins, etc. It would never have occurred to me that it was happening because I only had one author!

  • As of the last WP update to 5.9, Author list only shows Admins and Editors but no longer Contributors. Not sure what to do now.

  • I have been struggling for a few days to find a solution to this problem. There are 3 authors on the site, we all have the role of administrator. The problem is, we can’t select the author.

  • If you have a Role manager plugin, the Page permissions may need to be changed. This was my case that the default permissions for Pages was not allowing the Author to be changed.

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