I sometime need to share posts with selected readers only, for review or private discussion.

This is precisely the objective of the Hugo theme ‘Off The Record’::

“publish a post and invite chosen readers with a private link – while keeping this post hidden from other visitors”.

A demo is available, and the source code is public.


Note that Hugo extended > 0.82 is required (Posts are not properly hidden with previous Hugo versions).


git clone --recurse-submodules https://github.com/RoneoOrg/hugo-offtherecord-demo.git


cd hugo-offtherecord-demo

hugo serve

How to use

Set offTheRecord to true in the Front Matter of the posts you want to hide.

That’s all!


title: "Pending article, for review"
date: 2021-11-22T00:00:03+00:00
offTheRecord: true


Update the theme with the following command at the root of your project:

git submodule update --init --recursive --remote

Technical details

Private posts are hidden from:

  • the homepage
  • the search results
  • the RSS feeds
  • the archive page
  • the sitemap

Search engines are also told not to index these posts.

See the changelog for a commented code tour.

Update June, 28:

External links are now automatically opened in new tabs with ‘rel noreferrer’, to avoid leaking referrer information.

Additional features

This theme is based on Papermod, which provides numerous other features:

See the Papermod Documentation for more info


This solution should not be considered secured before checking your threat model with these caveats in mind:

  • someone could guess the URL of a private post.
  • someone could automatically scan your website to discover these secret URLs.
  • an attacker could access your Git repo and read private content directly from the source files. You should use a private repo.

The way you share the link matters too. See:

In addition, Internet actors on the way (hosts, DNS and internet providers) will handle references / parts of your page.


What’s left to do:

  • Study these similar projects: 1 1b 1c 2 (see the “ unlisted” option)
  • Check Hugo “Build Options” for relevant features
  • Verify the content of schema.json
  • Hide private posts from the tags pages and from Hugo series (disabled by default).
  • Update Papermod Readme and documentation
  • Check if hidden posts are counted in Tags pages total