A Beginner's Guide to Drupal


Definition: a piece of content in Drupal, typically corresponding to a single page on the site that has a title, body, and additional fields.

Content begins in Drupal as a Node. This is how all content is initially setup in the backend of the Drupal system. Basically, every piece of content created is considered a node (e.g.: blocks, articles, pages, webforms, events, etc).

You will sometimes see references to a “node type” throughout the system.  This is just another way of saying “content type.”  Depending on what you want to do, you can create different content types on your site.  For example, you may need a special content type called Events that includes a date, location, description, and picture.  Or you may need another type of content called Testimonials, which include author, quote, and date fields.  

Whenever you see your url path as: "/node/add", you are adding a new node to the site.

NID (node ID)

Definition: a unique identifier that Drupal assigns to each node.  This is a number that Drupal automatically assigns to each node.  It allows you the flexability to reference a piece of content using the nID instead of a URL path.  NID's are especially helpful when you have a piece of content that has multiple URL paths.  

How can I find my content's NID? 

You can find your content's NID when you are editing it and looking at the URL

or you can find it by hovering over the edit tab and looking at the URL  See screenshot.    

Taxonomy (Structure > Taxonomy)

Definition: the name of a core module that gives your sites use of terms. Taxonomies allow you to create vocabularies and terms to categorize, organize, and structure your content.

You can find this section on your site under Structure > Taxonomy.  For example, you can create a vocabulary called Article Type and include categorization terms such as: blog, news article, magazine article, online publication, etc.


Definition: items within a vocabulary that allow you to apply a label to a node.  They can also be known as tags. 

Here is an example of different Terms for an Article vocabulary.  


Definition: software usually built with PHP and CSS that extends Drupal’s features and functionality.

There are a couple of different types of modules:

  • Core: a variety of modules that provide you a basic starting point for your new Drupal site.  They come with basic features that most sites will need (e.g.: blogs, fields, files, comments, etc) and act as a foundation for your site.  You can find a list of the Drupal Core modules here
  • Contributed: modules that other developers and Drupal-ers have created.  Here is a list of the Top 10 Drupal 7 Contributed Modules.  Many contributed modules, such as views, date, webform, and Google Analytics, have become industry standards.  Currently, Drupal has around 20,000 modules that have been created by users from all over the world.
  • Custom: modules that you create specifically for your site.  KWALL will post another Lab topic on creating your own module, but for now, you can visit this page on Drupal.org to learn more about developing your own module.  


Definition: a module that allows developers a simple graphical interface for creating lists of Drupal objects.  

What can I do with views?

  • display specific files 
  • sections of information
  • filtration of node attributes
  • choice of basic layouts (i.e.: lists, full nodes, teasers, etc)


Defintiion: visible boxes in various areas of your Drupal Site

Blocks are the boxes of content (such as "User Login" or "Who's online") that can be displayed in regions (such as footer or sidebar) on your page.


Navigational elements on a page

There are two ways to manage menu items. First by managing them directly in the menu, second to manage the overall menu itself.

If you want to add or move something from the menu, review a page’s edit screen, which is already in the menu, and duplicate the menu settings for your new page.

If you need to manage the order of the menu or remove / hide items, go to the menu management page: /admin/structure/menu and click list links on the menu you want to manage (the primary menu is also known as the main menu):

WYSIWYG – “What You See Is What You Get”

We typically use tinymce or ckeditor.

Permissions & Roles

  • Unauthenticated Users / Anonymous
  • Authenticated Users
  • Editor
  • Administrator

Users can have multiple roles, but by default anyone without a login is considered anonymous, and anyone with a login is considered authenticated. This makes it easy to separate what the people logged out see and what the people logged in see if need be. For administrative purposes however, we’ll want to make sure we don’t give any permissions to the entire group of authenticated users in case someone is in fact able to get a login to the site. We’ll want to make sure that only people with privileged roles get those admin rights.


All nodes in our setup have revisions enabled, meaning the site keeps a history of all your edits and you can revert back to an older version if you make a mistake. The only thing this doesn’t keep a history of is file uploads, so be careful when you delete a file upload, as it will delete the file.


Rather than ever deleting a node, which gets rid of all revisions of it, you can simply uncheck the published box on that node and it will no longer be an accessible part of the site for front end users, but you can still get to it as an administrator to make changes or restore.


Fields are setup as additional things you can fill out on your node, which can be anything from a simple text field to a file upload. These can be restricted so only certain roles can view or edit them and are a core part of any drupal site.

Image Styles

Image styles allow you to upload any image and have it be automatically resized and cropped when we output it. This doesn’t require any additional work by you, but it allows you to worry less about the images you’re uploading.

Pasting from Word

Microsoft Word and the web don’t always mix. When taking content out of Microsoft Word documents, it is important to review the source of the editor for any hidden styling that Microsoft Word likes to leave into the text. When typing in Word, the styles are being added in a hidden fashion and the hidden styles will also be copied out to the website’s editor. This can cause issues with style and viewing consistencies in different browsers.

We always suggest to our clients to do the actual content editing and formatting within the WYSIWYG.  The safest way to copy and paste outside text to the