What are content elements?

Content elements (often abbreviated as CE) are the building blocks that make up a page in TYPO3.

Content elements are stored in the database table tt_content. Each content element has a specific content element type, specified by the database field tt_content.CType. A content element can be of a type supplied by TYPO3, such as 'textmedia' (text with or without images or videos). Or it can have a custom type supplied by an extension such as 'carousel' provided by the bootstrap_package extension.

Content elements are one of the elements (along with pages) that can be filled with content by editors and will be rendered in the frontend when a page is generated.

Content elements are arranged on a page, depending on their

  • language (field: tt_content.sys_language_uid)
  • sorting (field: tt_content.sorting)
  • column (field: tt_content.colPos)
  • etc.

What are plugins?

Plugins are a specific type of content elements. Plugins use the CType='list'. Each plugin has its own plugin type, which is used in the database field tt_content.list_type. The list_type could be understood as subtype of CType.

Typical characteristics of plugins are:

  • Plugins often use additional database tables which contain records which are dynamically displayed via the plugin - often in a list view, a single view, optionally with pagination and search functionality. An extension may provide several plugins, each with a dedicated function, such as the list view.
  • Plugins are often used if more complex functionality is required (than in non- plugin content elements)
  • Plugins can be created using the Extbase framework or by Core functionality.
  • tt_content.CType = list and tt_content.list_type contains the plugin signature.

A typical extension with plugins is the 'news' extension which comes with plugins to display news records in lists or as a single view with only one news record. The news records are stored in a custom database table (tx_news_domain_model_news) and can be edited in the backend.



Content element type "Text & Media" shipped with the TYPO3 core


Indexed search plugin type, provided by the TYPO3 core.


The Editors Tutorial describes how to work with page content and lists the basic TYPO3 content elements and how to work with them.

Additional descriptions can be found the fluid_styled_content documentation.


Backend Layouts can be configured to define how content elements are arranged in the TYPO3 backend (in rows, columns, grids). This can be used in the frontend to determine how the content elements are to be arranged (e.g. in the footer of the page, left column etc.).

Often content elements and plugins contain a number of fields. Not all of these may be relevant for your site. It is good practice to configure which fields will be displayed in the backend. There are a number of ways to do this:

Creating custom content element types or plugins

The following chapters handle how to create custom content element types and plugins:

How to make your plugins or content elements configurable by editors with