Categories and Tags

WordPress provides a standard way to organize posts by Categories and Tags. These are referred to in WordPress as Taxonomies.

Taxonomies help organize your content into logical groupings of related content. They automatically create topic-based archive pages. For example, all posts assigned to the category of “politics” can be found at

When publishing a post, it’s very important to assign to it the relevant taxonomy terms. This is done in the post edit screen, usually when composing the post.


For any given post, you should make sure at least one category is assigned in the post edit screen using the Categories panel:

categories panel in WordPress

WordPress also makes it possible for content authors to add new categories in the Categories panel, but actually, don’t do this unless you coordinate it with your site administrator. Categories should not be created ad hoc but planned in advance. Site administrators should take responsibility for defining a limited set of category terms, e.g. eight to 10 categories per site. This is typically done in consultation with editorial staff, but it’s important that the administrator manages the process and the outcome.


Tags are keywords or topics used to group related posts together on a more micro level. Typically, these are people, places, things or subtopics that are used to surface related posts and to help search engines better understand what a post is about. For example, you might have a category called “Politics” and posts in that category might have tags like “Campaign Finance”, “Election 2012”, etc. You can add as many tags per post as you wish.

Like categories, each tag has an archive page with all posts assigned to that tag. The URL will have the format

Adding and Managing Tag Terms

Like categories, tag terms are added to a post in the post edit screen:

tags panel in WordPress

As a tag term is entered, any matching terms previously entered will display in a dropdown menu:

tags panel autocomplete

If a suggested term fits for the post, it should be selected in the drop-down menu instead of typing the same term again. This is very important so you don’t end up with duplicates, or tags that mean the same thing but have minor differences.

For example, you may want to tag a post with the name of a public figure. For a story involving George H. W. Bush when he was the 41st President of the United States, you might add tags like:

  • George H. W. Bush
  • George HW Bush
  • President George H. W. Bush
  • George Herbert Walker Bush

Each of these tags is intended to mean the same person, but to WordPress, they are four different tags. This leads to content disorganization and fragmenting your tag archive pages. So it’s a good idea to set editorial standards for use of tags to prevent confusion on their proper use. This needn’t be too complicated. For example in the above case, it’s probably best to use George H. W. Bush. If the story concerns the United States President, you could add that as a separate tag term.