Using Categories

The first priority when organising blog posts as you write, is assigning them to categories.  It pays to be systematic from the start. Categories help you keep track of your posts.

If you assign categories before you start, assuming you know what your blog will be about, this will help you keep track of things.  You can assign as many categories as you like to any one post.  You need to be careful if you assign multiple categories.  This is your primary way of organising posts and so you want a system that is easy to grasp, for your readers and for you when you return to it after a period.  Some people allow only one category per post.  I assign one subcategory per post and whilst this includes the parent category, I assign the parent too so that I am reminded about the parent child relationship.

Later, you may find you need to adjust your categories.  You can:

  • change their names. I usually create a new category with a new name and then migrate the posts in the old category across. This way I don’t lose track of the posts that are already in there. Remember you may be splitting a category into 2 or more new categories and so migration is often the best method.
  • split or combine categories.
  • change the relationships between categories and subcategories (parent and child).

The thing to remember is if you delete a category you do not delete its posts. You will lose a record of which posts were in the deleted category.

So if you open the WordPress dashboard and click on Posts in the left hand column, you will see Categories among the submenu items. So open the Categories page.

To the right you will see a record of your existing categories and their relationships.  To create a new category, work down the left hand side of the page and start by naming your category.

It is best to keep names as short as possible but they should convey what the category is about. One disadvantage of a long name is it will lengthen you post urls and so the next box, Slug, allows you to assign a shorter category name for your urls.

If you click on the arrow beside the word Parent, you can select one of the existing categories to be Parent to your new category. So categories can be nested within other categories, these are sometimes called subcategories. If you want a standalone category, leave this blank.  Posts entered into a subcategory will also appear in the parent category.

You can enter a category description if you wish. This may help if you have a number of blog authors, so they have some idea which categories to use.

To add your new category to the list on the right, click the blue button at the bottom. This table should be self-explanatory. The Parent-Child relationships are shown by blue dashes to the left of the category name. If you hover over the name you will see several options appear.

Quick edit enables you to change the name and the slug. Edit takes you to a new page which enables you to change just about anything.

Your new category name will appear in your post editor so that you can assign new posts to it. Once you have one or more posts in the category it will also feature in lists of categories in the sidebar or footer of your website.

If you want it to appear in your navigation, you will need to set that up; the topic for next time.

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About the Author

I've been a community development worker since the early 1980s in Tyneside, Teesside and South Yorkshire. I've also worked nationally for the Methodist Church for eight years supporting community projects through the church's grants programme. These days I am developing an online community development practice combining non-directive consultancy, strategic management, participatory methods and development work online and offline. If you're interested contact me for a free consultation.

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