I'm making a website that authors can sign up to and write articles. However I don't want low quality posts submitted. So, firstly I want the posts to be not empty and to be longer than 250 words.

So something like:

if (empty($post) && $post < 250) {
 echo 'Error, must be longer than 250 words';

Obviously this code will not work but that is a general idea of what I want. However, I'm not really sure how to go about this. Is their a WordPress hook to use?

  • So you just want to display a warning for the contributors? Since they can't publish the posts anyway, I guess it's up to you to check if the #words > 250 before publishing.
    – birgire
    Commented Aug 25, 2014 at 12:58
  • Sorry, I accidentally wrote contributors however I meant authors. I would like to physically stop them from posting if the requirements are not met.
    – chap
    Commented Aug 25, 2014 at 13:03

1 Answer 1


Prevent authors from publishing too short content:

Here's one idea using a custom post status, for example short:

 * Register a custom 'short' post status
 * @see http://wordpress.stackexchange.com/a/159044/26350

function wpse_short_post_status()
    register_post_status( 'short', array(
        'label'                     => _x( 'Short', 'post' ),
        'public'                    => false,
        'exclude_from_search'       => true,
        'show_in_admin_all_list'    => true,
        'show_in_admin_status_list' => true,
        'label_count'               => _n_noop( 'Short <span class="count">(%s)</span>', 
                                                'Short <span class="count">(%s)</span>' )
    ) );

add_action( 'init', 'wpse_short_post_status' );

We can then view all posts with too short content here:


with the extra tab:

Short post status

To prevent authors from publishing posts with too short content, we can use the wp_insert_post_data filter:

 * Prevent authors from publishing posts with too short content.
 * @see http://wordpress.stackexchange.com/a/159044/26350

function wpse_prevent_short_content( $data , $postarr )
    // Editors and admins can publish all posts:
    if( current_user_can( 'edit_others_posts' ) )
        return $data;   

    // Authors can't publish posts with too short content: 
    $wordcount = count( explode( ' ', strip_tags( $data['post_content'] ) ) );

    if( 'publish' === $data['post_status'] && $wordcount <= 250 )
        $data['post_status'] = 'short';

    return $data;

add_filter( 'wp_insert_post_data', 'wpse_prevent_short_content', PHP_INT_MAX, 2 );

where we force the post status back to short on publish.

We can use this to warn the user that the content is too short:

 * Display a too short content warning.
 * @see http://wordpress.stackexchange.com/a/159044/26350

function wpse_admin_notice() {
    $screen = get_current_screen();

    if(    'post' === $screen->base
        && 'post' === $screen->id
        && 'short' === $GLOBALS['post']->post_status
        && ! current_user_can( 'edit_others_posts' )
    printf( '<div class="error"><p>%s</p></div><style>#message{display:none;}</style>',
        __( 'Warning: Post not published - the content must exceed 250 words!' )

add_action( 'admin_notices', 'wpse_admin_notice' );

Here's a screenshot of the warning:


I hope you can modify this to your needs, for example if you need this for other post types than post.

  • Working nicely so far.
    – chap
    Commented Aug 25, 2014 at 13:36
  • Great, I just got an idea using a custom post status for posts with too short content, for example short, let me try to implement it.
    – birgire
    Commented Aug 25, 2014 at 14:14
  • This is working really well. However, as well as the custom error message it is also display a success message saying post published. I can't find a filter to remove this. Is there a way to do that?
    – chap
    Commented Aug 26, 2014 at 2:03
  • 1
    Please check the updated answer.
    – birgire
    Commented Aug 26, 2014 at 3:50

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