Categories and Tags in WordPress

How to Manage Categories and Tags in WordPress

Why are Categories and Tags Important?

WordPress offers two different ways to classify your posts – categories and tags. Grouping posts together according to themes, topics and keywords enables users to navigate around your site more effectively, making connections between similar content, and find the information they need.

For instance, a film review site might categorise their articles in terms of genre. If someone was interested in science-fiction films, they would be able find similar films by clicking the link to that category’s archive page. The reviews might also tag the names of the film’s stars so visitors could discover other roles the actors have played.

WordPress is brilliant because it automatically generates individual archive pages for every category and tag you create, saving a lot of time and effort on larger websites.

This quick tutorial will take you through the different ways you can add and edit categories and tags to your own WordPress site.

Add a New Category

First, locate the categories administration screen by going to the main navigation menu and hovering over the “Posts” link to reveal the following submenu:

Clicking “Categories” will open the relevant work area:

Simply type in the name of the new category into the first text field.

The next text field is for the slug. If you are unfamiliar with the term, a slug is simply the unique identifying part of a web address which tells the browser where exactly to go. Using our science-fiction example from earlier, the permalink might be https://film-reviews.com/sci-fi. This web address consists of three essential directions:

  • The protocol: https://
  • The domain name: film-reviews.com/
  • The slug: sci-fi

You can see the slug is based on the name of the category. Creating short and memorable slugs makes it easier for your visitors to know where they are on your site and improves the user experience.

WordPress offers its own guidance beneath the text box: “The ‘slug’ is the URL-friendly version of the name. It is usually all lowercase and contains only letters, numbers, and hyphens”.

WordPress also gives the following advice for parent categories: “Categories, unlike tags, can have a hierarchy. You might have a Jazz category, and under that have children categories for Bebop and Big Band. Totally optional”.

The look of your category page will be defined by the theme you have installed. Some themes include the description at the top of the archive to let visitors know a little about the page they are viewing. You can leave this blank for now.

Click the “Add New Category” button and you are done.

screenshot of add new category options in wordpress
New Category Example

WordPress will confirm the category has been created with a little message at the top of your screen and the category should now appear on your list with all the relevant details:

screenshot of a new category added in WordPress
A new category has been added

Hover your cursor over one of the categories to reveal the options to edit the category. This is really useful if you mispelt the slug or you need to change the name.

Add A New Tag

The process to add a new tag is very similar to adding a new category. Go to the admin sidebar, hover over “Posts” and then select “Tags” from the menu. This will open the tags administration screen:

You should see the same options as before. Remember to give the name and slug user-friendly identities.

screenshot of the new tag

As you can see from the example above, the tag and slug do not need to share the same name.

Manage Categories and Tags in the Posts Panel

You can assign categories and tags to posts in the posts administration screen. First, click “Posts” on the admin sidebar to open the relevant work area:

screenshot of posts to add categories and tags
Post Admin Screen

Hover your cursor over the post you would like change and select “Quick Edit”. In the following options, untick “Uncategorized” and then select the category you want to use. You can also type the relevant tags into the text box on the right.

screenshot of how to edit a post's category and tag
Changing the Category and Tag from the Posts Admin Screen

You edit will be saved when you click the “Update” button.

Top tip: this method is great if you are editing and changing the categories and tags of multiple.

Edit Categories and Tags in the Post Editor

Now you have the categories and tags set up, you can assign a post to the taxonomies when you are writing and creating a new post in the content editor.

Go to the settings panel and scroll down the sidebar to find the Categories and Tags options. Just tick the appropriate category boxes and type your tags into the tag field.

You can even create new categories and tags in these areas. Easy.

how to edit categories and tags in the content editor

What is the Difference between Categories and Tags?

Categories are used for a website’s main topics. Perhaps the most obvious example would be a news broadcaster, such as The New York Times, which divides its content into business, politics, sports, arts, technology, and other broad sections. If you want to catch-up on the most important stories from the world of politics, you just need to visit the dedicated politics page.

Tags are another mechanism to help keep your content organised so it is more accessible to users, but this feature is used to link specific ideas and aspects which might only be shared by a couple of other posts on the site. The New York Times adds tags to each article “to inform content recommendations for readers” so you can explore a particular topic in more detail by reading similar stories and reports. The newspaper’s metadata and tagging process is certainly worth reading because it demonstrates the importance they place on creating the right structure for their content.

Next, categories can be arranged in a hierarchy by creating subcategories. A website focused on cooking, for example, might categorise their posts according to recipes with subcategories for healthy options, snacks, vegetarian meals, and seasonal dishes. However, tags exist on their own with no relationship to each other.

Finally, each post must be assigned to at least one category, or WordPress will list it as uncategorised. By contrast, the use of tags is optional. Before you start adding lots of tags to a post, evaluate whether or not using tags on your website would even benefit your readers.

Final Thoughts

If you are not sure how to move between the different screens referred to in this tutorial, you should read our introduction to the administration screen to become more familiar with the layout and key terms.

You may also like

Comments are closed.