Drupal concepts and terminology


A content management framework used widely in Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, as well as the larger Duke University community.



Information that communicates or transfers meaningful information to a site visitor; includes text, graphics, images, audio, and video.



A data element that stores a particular type of information. Field types include plain text, rich text, image, file, date, and email, among others. Fields can be required or optional.

Date field.
A date field with start and end values; the red asterisk denotes that both values are required.


Rich Text Field

A field that supports formatted text such as bold, italic, lists and headings, as well as tables, in-line images, and embedded media. Most content types include at least one rich text field. For more information about the formatting options available in a rich text field, see the Rich Text Editor documentation.

Rich text field.
A rich text field — the Body field stores the main content for most content types.


Content type

A collection of fields — in essence a template — that describes a specific type of content. For example, an Event content type might consist of the following fields:

  • Title (plain text)
  • Description (rich text)
  • Speaker (plain text)
  • Start/End date (date field)
  • Contact (plain text)
  • Contact email (email field)
  • Contact phone (plain text)

A News content type might include fields for:

  • Headline (plain text)
  • Byline (plain text)
  • Published date (date field)
  • Body (rich text)
  • Image (image field)

A Basic page might only have a Title (plain text) field and a Body (rich text) field.

Editors use the available content types to add content (i.e. ‘nodes’) to their site. Editors do not create or manipulate content types, but a good understanding of the concept will facilitate discussions around functional enhancements.



A distinct piece of content that is created using, and thus modeled after, an existing content type. Nodes can be created manually by an editor with sufficient privileges or via an import from an external source such as the Duke Events Calendar.



The state of a node which allows it to be viewed by anonymous (not logged in) site visitors. This state can be changed to unpublished, effectively hiding the content from visitors other than authenticated users with permission to view unpublished nodes.


a view showing upcoming events.
A view showing three upcoming events

A collection of nodes that match a set of criteria which have been specified by the site builder. These criteria may be as simple as “all published nodes of a certain content type”, but can take other filters into account such as dates, taxonomy, and so on, depending on the fields available. These filters can be exposed to site visitors, allowing the user to dynamically change which nodes are included in the view. A typical example of an exposed filter is a category menu from which a user can select a term on which to filter the view.

The way a view is displayed is configurable, both in terms of the format (e.g. slideshow, table, unordered list) and which fields are included. Content editors do not create or manipulate views, but should be familiar with the concept and the capabilities in order to facilitate discussions around functional enhancements.



Drupal‘s system of categorization. A site‘s taxonomy is made up of vocabularies, which are made up of individual terms. For example, most department sites have a vocabulary called ‘Class’, which includes the terms ‘Faculty’, ‘Graduate Students’, and ‘Staff’.



A snippet of content which can be displayed on one or more pages throughout a site. A typical use case for a block is contact information shown in the footer on every page. When modifying a block, the change will be apparent everywhere the block is displayed.



A list of links that provides site visitors the means of navigating through the site. The ‘Main menu’ typically includes a link to every page of the site, organized in a hierarchical fashion. Depending on the content type, the content editor can provide a menu link to nodes created using that content type. Not all content types allow their nodes to be assigned to a menu, as these nodes will be accessed via a view. An example of this is the ‘Event’ content type: nodes of this type are not typically assigned to a menu, but are displayed in an ‘Upcoming Events’ view.


Paragraph type

Similar to a content type, paragraph types are collections of fields. A paragraph acts as content container within an existing content type. For example, the Basic page content type has several fields where a paragraph can be added to display an accordion, a tab section, or a photo gallery. For more information about this functionality, please see Working with Drupal’s “Paragraphs”.



A type of component that can be placed on a Basic page in addition to the Title and Body fields. Several paragraph types have been created, some of which define a column-based layout, others provide a way to add a variety of content on their own or nested within a layout-defining paragraph. Only users with the Site Builder role are capable of using the layout-defining paragraphs, and only those with the Site Builder and Site Editor role can use the content-based paragraphs.



An assembly of one or more content elements (i.e. a node, view, block, and/or menu) that are rendered together when a site visitor accesses one of your site‘s URLs (or web address, e.g. http://www.duke.edu/path), whether from an external link or search result, via one of the site‘s menus, or in rare cases by direct input.



An area defined by the site‘s theme in which content elements (nodes, views, blocks, and menus) may be placed.


User (also referred to as user account)

An individual‘s presence on a Drupal site.


Anonymous user

A site visitor who is not logged in.


Authenticated user

A site visitor who has logged into a Drupal site and is identified by their account, or ‘user account’. A visitor may not have elevated privileges, i.e. editing rights, simply by the fact that they are authenticated. Typically, their account must also have been given an additional role or roles for which permissions have been assigned, for example the ability to edit nodes of a particular content type.



A setting that controls access to content and functionality within a Drupal site. For example, creating a Basic page is a permission that is available to the Content AuthorSite Editor, and Site Builder roles.



A set of permissions that defines what an individual is capable of doing when logged-in to a Drupal site. Roles are assigned to user accounts, thereby giving a user permission to edit content, for example. Roles can be assigned to multiple users, and users can have multiple roles.


Admin menu/shortcut tray

The black and gray menu bar which is presented to authenticated users with an editing role. The orientation of the menu can be changed from top-horizontal to vertical-left by clicking the |⬅ button. Along with the shortcut tray, the admin menu provides navigation and links for performing several administrative tasks on the site. The navigation in the admin menu varies depending on your editing role (e.g. Content Author vs. Site Manager).

Admin menu
The admin menu presented to a logged in Content Author