Spring Cleaning – Adding and deleting categories in WordPress

by on July 15, 2009 · 3 comments

Categories are the key to organizing your WordPress blog. It’s not something that you need to do everyday – but every now and then a spring cleaning is a good idea. Some reasons why you might need some category cleanup include:

  • You only have 1 or 2 posts in a category.  You planned on writing many articles about “Disneyworld” but since you never did, maybe those posts should just be part of the “Amusement Park” category.
  • You are adding more writers to your blog.  Having good descriptions on each category will help your co-writers put their blogs into the correct categories.
  • Your category list, which you have in a widget on your home page, is now the largest section of your page.  Maybe you have a few more categories than you really need.

Regardless of the reasons, the process is simple:

Video:Adding and deleting categories


All of the category tools are available by going to the WordPress Dashboard, selecting Posts and then selecting Categories.  From there you can do things like:

  • Add a Category – Fill in the category name.  You have several optional elements – the category slug (newer versions only – the “slug” is the URL-friendly version of the name. It is usually all lowercase and contains only letters, numbers, and hyphens), the category parent – for example “Disneyland” could be a child/folder/part of the “Amusement Park” category and a category description.  Click Add Category to finish the process.
  • Delete Categories – On the right side of the page, you can delete categories one a time using the delete option underneath the category title (you will get the “are you sure message”) or you can click the check box next to several categories and then select Delete under the Bulk Actions. Click Apply to delete all the categories that you checked off.
  • Change a Category Name – Just click on Quick Edit underneath the category name.  Click Save and your edits are done.  Alternatively, you can click on Edit and have the ability to edit the name, slug, parent and description.
  • Convert Categories to Tags – This will let you keep the classification aspect of the category, but reduce your long category list.  Look for “Categories can be selectively converted to tags using the category to tag converter” in the lower right corner and click on that.  Then select all of only those categories you want to convert.

Whenever you delete a category – you are never deleting the actual posts!  If the post was assigned multiple categories, all that happens is the deleted category is removed.  If the post only had only category, than it will assume the category that is assigned as the default category.


Categories are an effective way to organize your blog.  However, any organization scheme needs occasional refreshing. WordPress offers features to make it easy to add, delete and rename categories to keep your blog well organized and optimized for your readers.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Charlotte July 15, 2009 at 10:52 am

Thanks for the helpful post Don. I just recently converted my site to Wordpress and am really enjoying it. The categories vs. tags has me a bit perplexed though. Any thoughts on best practices when it comes to using tags versus categories?


Don Campbell July 15, 2009 at 8:24 pm

@Charlotte – That is a great question. And one that people go around and around about.

The way I like to think of it, Categories help you categorize content into different topic areas on your site. Tags allow you to “tag” content with words that others might use for finding your content.

Here is a great list of the similarities and differences between Categories and Tags in WordPress from a great post Lorelle VanFossen did:

  • Categories can have unique names. Tags need to be known names.
  • Categories can have long wordy names. Tags should have short one, two, or at the most, three words.
  • Categories generate a page of posts on your site. Tags can, too, but often generate a page of off-site posts on an off-site website.
  • Categories are not tags. Tags can be categories.
  • Categories don’t help search engines find information. Tags help search engines and tag directories catalog your site.
  • Posts are usually in one to four categories. A single post can list as many tags as you want.
  • Categories help visitors find related information on your site. Tags help visitors find related information on your site and on other sites.

I hope this helps!


Charlotte July 16, 2009 at 9:45 am

Hey – thanks for the thorough reply! This definitely helps to clear it up. Now I will have to rethink and reorganize a bit …. Haven’t really added any tags at all yet and I had been wondering about adding posts to multiple categories.


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