Time to add a new category to WordPress? Have enough content within a specific topic and want to add it to your category lists? Changing your mind about a category name and wish to change it? Want to delete an entire category worth of posts because you don’t want to cover that topic anymore?
Adding and changing categories is easy with WordPress. This is your guide to all the things you need to know about adding and deleting categories in WordPress, as well as moving posts around within categories.
- In the sidebar menu of the Post Panel, look for Categories. If you do not see it, click Screen Options at the upper right corner of the screen and check off “Categories.”
- At the bottom of the Category panel box, click +Add New Category.
- Enter the name of the category in the form.
- If appropriate, select the Parent Category for this Category.
- Click Add New Category.
WordPress will automatically select the category and use it when you publish this post.
To add a description to the category, go to Posts > Categories and edit the category to add the category description. The category description will appear in the title attribute of the Category link in navigation (required by US Federal Law for accessibility for commercial and government sites) and on category pageviews for WordPress Themes that use it.
- On the WordPress Administration Panels, go to Posts > Categories.
- On the left side of the panel is Add New Category.
- Fill in the category name in the form.
- If appropriate, select a Parent category from the drop down menu.
- Enter a description for the category in the form.
- Click Add New Category.
The new category will now appear in the Category list on the Post Panel.
Note that self-hosted versions of WordPress allow the user to set the Slug, the permalink name for the category, when adding new categories. WordPress.com users cannot change the category slug.
Things You Need to Know About Categories
Here are a few things you need to know about categories in WordPress.
- A category will not appear in your category navigation unless there is a published post in it.
- Category names should be keyword specific not made-up or fun names. They are important navigation links so call them what they represent.
- Category names are generally one to four words.
- Posts can be in multiple categories.
- Categories can have subcategories.
- Out of the box, “Uncategorized” is your default category. You can change this in the Settings > Writing panel.
- By default, the WordPress permalink structure for categories include the word “category” in the permalink such as
- By default, the WordPress permalink structure for subcategories is
http://example.com/category/blogging/blogging-tips/, featuring the parent category slug name first, followed by the subcategory slug.
- Category descriptions will appear on WordPress Themes using the category description template tag in the category template file of the Theme.
- Categories have their own feeds. The link to the feed is in the structure of
- Pages do not have categories, only posts.
- If you use the Import > Convert Tags to Categories feature, WordPress will automatically generate trackback comments for all changed posts. Not sure why, but you can easily delete these from the
Comment panels as they are duplicate trackbacks.
What You Need to Know on Adding, Removing, and Changing Categories
There are a few issues and complications that may come with adding a new category to your WordPress site that you will need to know.
Moving Posts Into the New Category
When you create a new category, the odds are high that you will want to add posts you’ve published in the past to the new category.
You can use the Bulk Edit feature of WordPress to add the category to the posts, or you can manually go through all the posts and add them to the new category.
If you wish to remove the post from a category, you cannot use the Bulk Edit feature. The Bulk Edit only adds, not subtracts, post options. You must do this manually on WordPress.com. Self-hosted WordPress users may use Bulk Move WordPress Plugin.
Setting the Default Category in WordPress
By default, WordPress sets “Uncategorized” as the default category for your site. Having posts uncategorized is not a good idea and doesn’t send a positive message about you or your site.
The default category can not be deleted and some of the changes you may wish to make may be restricted. If you need to make changes, you need to set another category as the default.
To change the default category on WordPress and self-hosted versions of WordPress:
- Go to Settings > Writing.
- Go to Default Post Category.
- From the drop down menu, select the category you wish to be the new default.
- Click Save Changes.
Posts currently in the Uncategorized category will be automatically moved to the new default category.
To delete the Uncategorized category, which I highly recommend, go to Posts > Categories and select Delete.
How to Rename a Category
“Dancing in the Night” was a great category for your posts on risk-taking. After several years of blogging, you learned that people and search engines don’t respond well to cute category titles. You need to change it to “Expanding Your Comfort Zone.”
To rename a category, you can create a new category and move posts into it, or change the category name.
In the self-hosted version of WordPress:
- Go to Posts > Categories.
- Find the category name you wish to change and click Edit.
- Change the category name.
- Change the category Slug, the permalink “nice” name for the category.
- Add or change the category description.
- Click Update.
On WordPress.com, the method is basically the same except you cannot change the post slug. It will change automatically when you change the category name.
Due to the canonical nature of WordPress, changing the order or name of the category should not result in a page-not-found error. WordPress should automatically redirect the visitor to the right page as it preserves the same category ID number.
Deleting a Category
If you find a category isn’t working for you, but you wish to keep the posts within that content, you can delete the category.
To delete a category, go to Posts > Categories and select Delete – but stop. Maybe you should consider this step first. What happens when you delete a category in WordPress?
WordPress and WordPress.com will automatically move the posts in to the default category as set in the Settings > Writing panel.
If you do not with to have the posts moved into the default category, you have some options.
The Bulk Edit feature will not remove posts from categories, only add. WordPress and WordPress.com users can edit posts individually to add them to the category of their choice and remove them from category they will later delete.
Self-hosted WordPress users can use the Bulk Move WordPress Plugin.
Once the posts have been moved into the appropriate category, go to the Posts > Categories panel and find the category you wish to delete. Click Delete.
Remember this is final. You may add the category later, but it will feature the number -2 in the category name unless you modify the WordPress database. To change this, see the instructions on changing the category permalink with a number.
Removing an Entire Category of Posts
You’ve been blogging for a while and realize that all your blog posts about mortgages and credit ratings were of value when you were getting your home refinanced, but you haven’t touched the subject in three years. The posts are flooded constantly by spam comment bots focused on the keyword usage, so you want to just delete all of them.
You can delete a category, and the posts will automatically be added to the default category. Posts are not removed. What do you do if you want them gone?
On WordPress.com and the self-hosted version of WordPress, you may use the Bulk Edit feature to delete all the posts in a specific category.
- Go to the Posts management panel.
- Filter the posts by the specific category of posts you wish to delete and apply the filter.
- Triple check that these are the posts you wish to delete.
- Check the posts you wish to delete or use the “Select All” feature by clicking the check box next to “Title.”
- On the Bulk Edit drop down, select Move to Trash.
- Click Apply to move all the selected posts to the Trash.
Remember the Trash in WordPress will temporarily hold the deleted items, giving you a chance to change your mind.
If the posts you wish to delete are not all in the same category that you wish to remove, go through the posts individually and manually move them to the Trash using the option from the Post Management panel or on the post’s Edit panel.
On self-hosted WordPress sites, you can also use the Bulk Delete WordPress Plugin to help you get rid of not only the whole category, but all posts in that category. You can delete content in a variety of ways with this Plugin, including removing Pages and all post revisions.
Using the built-in Trash feature, you have a chance to change your mind. Using the Bulk Delete WordPress Plugin is a final option with no second chance.
Converting Tags to Categories and Categories to Tags
Not all categories are meant to be categories. Sometimes they need to be tags. Sometimes tags need to grow up and become categories. WordPress makes it easy for self-hosted and WordPress.com users to convert between the two.
To begin the conversion process of tags to categories or categories to tags:
- Go to Tools > Import.
- Select Categories and Tags Converter.
- Choose Categories to Tags or Tags to Categories.
- Find the category or tag you wish to convert and click the check mark next to it. If the list is long, use CTRL+F to do a page search for the name of the tag or category.
- Scroll to the bottom of the panel and click Convert Tags to Categories or Convert Categories to Tags.
A notification may appear explaining you will receive email notification of the conversion when complete. It usually takes a few seconds to appear in your Category or Tag list.
Note that tags with an asterisk are also categories, and categories with an asterisk are also tags. When converting tags to categories, posts associated with that tag will be automatically moved to that category. When converting categories to tags, the same thing happens. Posts in that category will feature that tag, but lose the category.
Finding a Number in Your Category Permalink
If you create a new category and find -2 in the link name such as
http://example.com/category/blogging-tips-2, it means you are duplicating the name in the WordPress database.
I know you didn’t. I know that this is the first time you’ve used this name in your categories, but you used it first in your tags.
WordPress tags and categories used to be stored in separate tables in the WordPress MySQL database. With the changes in how content is categorized and cataloged in WordPress, categories and tags are now in the same database table. By default, MySQL will not allow you to use the same names in a single table so it adds a dash two to the name.
You don’t want your category permalinks to feature a dash two, right? How do you fix this?
The easiest method for fixing the number in your category permalink works for both WordPress.com and self-hosted versions of WordPress:
- Go to Tools > Import > Convert Tags to Categories.
- Follow the instructions above to convert tags to categories.
- Go to Posts > Categories and update the converted category to the proper capitalization and add a category description.
- You will find that the category already has posts. They were automatically added to the category upon conversion. If you do not wish them to be in that category, edit them manually to uncheck that category.
- Go to the Posts management panel and use the Bulk Edit feature of WordPress to add the category to the posts you wish to be in that category in addition to the ones that were automatically converted.
- Go to Posts > Categories and delete the dash two category.
Self-hosted WordPress users may also use the Bulk Move WordPress Plugin to move posts into the new category.
The dash two permalink issue on categories (and tags) may also be fixed directly within the WordPress database with the search and replace option.
I Cannot Change or Edit a Category
If you cannot make changes to a category, it is likely it is set as the default category. It usually appears without a checkbox next to it in the Category panel list.
See the instructions on changing the default category in WordPress.
That’s a Lot on WordPress Categories
That’s really a lot on adding, deleting, changing, and messing around with categories in WordPress. Yet it is only the tip of the ice berg of what can be done with WordPress categories.
Please remember that categories are your primary navigation and gateway to content on your site. Use them wisely. Use names that tell the visitor in an instant that they are in the right place. Use names that guide the user to the help and information they want and need. Let categories speak well for you.