Beginner's Guide for WordPress / Start your WordPress Blog in minutes

How to Add Categories and Subcategories in WordPress

Do you want to know how to create categories and subcategories in WordPress?

In WordPress, your posts can be organized into different categories and tags. You can even create subcategories for further organization. Using categories and subcategories can help your readers find the content they’re most interested in and improve your website’s SEO rankings.

In this article, we’ll show you how to add categories and subcategories in WordPress, step by step.

Categories and subcategories in WordPress

Understanding Parent and Child Categories in WordPress

Categories are a powerful tool. They’re not just a way to sort your content. They also help you develop a proper site structure that is meaningful and semantic. This is great for your WordPress SEO.

Note: If you’re not clear about the difference between categories and tags, take a look at our guide on categories vs tags. This explains why categories and tags are different, and how to use them correctly.

Now you might be wondering, why and when would someone need to use child categories (subcategories) on their WordPress website?

Let’s say you’re creating a travel blog for different destinations around the world. You might want users to be able to find articles by both country and city.

For example, you might have an article about the best waterparks in the United States. It would make sense to use ‘United States’ as the category for that post.

However, you might also have articles about the best places to eat in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and more. This is where you can use child or subcategories. Then ‘United States’ can become a parent category and the cities can become child categories.

Category and subcategory in WordPress

A post filed under a child category doesn’t need to also be filed under the parent category. In our example, we could have left ‘United States’ unchecked and just put the post in the ‘New York City’ category.

If you file a post under the child category but not under the parent category, then your post will appear only on the archive pages of the child category.

Having said that, let’s take a look at how to add both regular categories and child categories in WordPress.

Adding a Category in WordPress

You can easily add a new category in WordPress when writing a post.

First, if the sidebar isn’t showing when you’re editing a post, you’ll need to click on the gear icon on the top right.

Then, in the Post panel on the right-hand side, open up the Categories tab.

where to find categories when editing a post

You’ll see different categories that you’ve already created.

However, to create a new category, you can simply click the ‘Add New Category’ link.

Adding a new category in WordPress

Once you click the link, two new boxes will appear where you can add your category.

For a regular category, you don’t need to select anything from the Parent Category dropdown.

Enter a category name and parent category

Once you’ve typed in the name for your category, simply click the ‘Add New Category’ button.

The box for that category will then be automatically checked for your current post. You can uncheck it if you want.

Preview of new category

You can also add a new category without editing a post.

Simply go to Posts » Categories and add your new category. This is handy if you want to create all your categories before adding content.

This method also lets you edit the slug (URL) for your categories. You can delete and rename categories and give them a description. See how to add SEO keywords and descriptions in WordPress.

Add a new category

Adding a Child Category (Sub Category) in WordPress

You can add and edit child categories in exactly the same way you added your parent categories.

When you’re editing a post, open the settings panel and scroll down to the Categories tab.

Next, click the ‘Add New Category’ option and type in the name for your child category. Then select the category that you want to use as the parent from the dropdown list.

Add a subcategory

Similarly, you can also go to Posts » Categories to add child categories.

Just type in the name for your child category and select the parent category from the dropdown menu.

Select a parent category

Your child categories can also have their own child categories if you want.

For instance, we might decide to develop a category structure that is used to group multiple types of content together, like this:

Preview of category structure

Here, News is a category, with the Announcements as child categories.

Categories on the same level within a parent category are sometimes called ‘sibling’ categories. For instance, the Announcements and SEO Tools are sibling categories here.

Categories can only have one parent. You can’t add one sub-category under two different parent categories.

SEO Benefits of Category Based Site Structure

Your category URLs will look something like this:

This is meaningful and helps search engines and visitors understand what your page is about. You also get a chance to add keywords to your URL. Keywords help people find content on search engines.

WordPress also allows you to easily change the /category/ prefix of your category URLs. You can even remove it completely if you want.

Simply go to the Settings » Permalinks page from the WordPress admin panel and scroll down to the ‘Category base’ section.

Change category permalink settings

Here you can enter the prefix you would like to use and click on the ‘Save Changes’ button to store your changes.

The ‘category’ prefix in your category URLs doesn’t add any benefit to your SEO.

This is why some website owners prefer to remove the remove the word ‘category’ from their WordPress category archive pages’ URLs. You can easily do this by using the All in One SEO plugin, so your category URLs look like this:

Simply go to the Search Appearance menu for AIOSEO and then select the Taxonomies tab. Under the Advanced settings for Categories, you will see the option to remove category base prefix.

AIOSEO Remove Category Base Prefix

Alternatively, you can also use the FV Top Level Categories plugin. Simply install the plugin and it will remove the word ‘category’ from your category archive pages’ URLs.

Important: If you decide to change the category base on an existing WordPress site, then you’ll need to set up redirects to avoid 404 errors for search engine visitors. For more detailed instructions, please follow our guide on how to change the category base prefix in WordPress.

How to Display Categories and Child Categories in WordPress Sidebar

You can add a widget block to your WordPress sidebar or footer to show a list of categories. In your WordPress dashboard, go to Appearance » Widgets.

If you haven’t changed your widgets from the ones that WordPress puts there by default, you should see the Categories widget block already in place. If not, then you can click the ‘+’ button and add a ‘Category’ block to your widget area.

Add a category widget block

By default, the widget will show all your categories in a flat list, in alphabetical order.

Here’s a preview of how they looked on our test website:

Preview of categories in sidebar

Tip: Categories will only display on the list if you’ve assigned at least 1 published post to them.

You can change it to show the child categories (subcategories) beneath their parent categories if you want. Simply enable the ‘Show hierarchy’ option in the widget settings like this. Don’t forget to click the ‘Update’ button.

Show hierarchy in widget blocks

On your site, you should now see your parent categories with the child categories nested beneath them.

Tip: If your sidebar changes don’t show up, you might need to clear your WordPress cache.

Aside from the default category widget block, you can also create custom category menu links using the WordPress navigation menu. After that, you can add that menu to your header menu, sidebar, footer, or other menu locations.

We hope this tutorial helped you learn how to add categories and child categories in WordPress. You may also want to take a look at our article on how to create an email newsletter to grow your website traffic, and our comparison of the best WordPress page builders to create custom layouts.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

Disclosure: Our content is reader-supported. This means if you click on some of our links, then we may earn a commission. See how WPBeginner is funded, why it matters, and how you can support us. Here's our editorial process.

The Ultimate WordPress Toolkit

Get FREE access to our toolkit - a collection of WordPress related products and resources that every professional should have!

Reader Interactions

99 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Hey WPBeginner readers,
    Did you know you can win exciting prizes by commenting on WPBeginner?
    Every month, our top blog commenters will win HUGE rewards, including premium WordPress plugin licenses and cash prizes.
    You can get more details about the contest from here.
    Start sharing your thoughts below to stand a chance to win!

  2. I have a Buying Guide, Review, and Categories and Under Categories I have several sub categories
    When I Review Amazon Products I would like them to appear under Reviews and at te same time time I would like them to appear in one of the sub categories How do I get started and what do I do


  3. Hi, my site has some categories that don’t have any parent category. However, these were created a long time ago. Can I just assign them one?

    • You can but if you have any posts under the categories, be sure to redirect any posts that had their URLs changed


  4. When using child categories, should I check the parent category also checked, or keep it unchecked?

    • If you mean when adding a post to the category, you would only need to check the child category


      • I have my permalink structure set to “/%category%/%postname%/” and I want to show the parent category in my URL.
        1. If I checked the child category my post URL’s are showing: “”
        2. If I checked both child and parent categories, my post URL’s are showing: “” that I want. So now should I check the parent category also checked, or keep it unchecked? If i checked both then it would not be an issue to have duplicate content that will negatively affect on SEO.

  5. Hi,

    I have made my catergory showing at the top a drop down, but when I put category in my primary sidebar when I click it says ‘select category’ and doesn’t show my sub categories. How do I fix this?


    • You would normally need to manually add subcategories if we’re understanding what you’d want correctly.


  6. Hi
    Can I generate multiple articles for the main category without selecting a subcategory for it (with a few subcategories), is this SEO desirable?

    • You can have multiple posts in one category if you wanted and not use subcategories, it would depend on the overall organization of your site for how useful it would be and if it would have any SEO effect.


  7. hay i need to know how i display sub-category show in menu when i add new show auto into the menu

  8. I have six categories on my homepage. When you click the image on the homepage, it takes you to that category page. I am having an issue with blog posts. How do I get the blog post to automatically appear on the correct category page? I’m been doing this manually and I know there has to be another way. Thanks in advance!

    • You should be able to link to the category page for WordPress to automatically list the posts in a category. You can get the link to your category page by adding a category to your menu. You should not be manually creating your category pages.


  9. You mentioned if you don’t attach the item to the parent and only the child that it wouldn’t show up in the parent. This is incase you don’t want duplicate content.

    If left attached to both would this create an SEO issue of having duplicate content then? I know Google frowns upon duplicate content, but you didn’t say.

    Thanks in advance.

  10. Thanks,
    I was told I was creating my categories incorrectly as they had the word ‘category’ in the URL. I read several posts on how to create categories and yours was the only one explaining this.
    That said, how bad is it to have this? I hate to add in yet another plugin. It really doesn’t bother me…unless it should for some reason.

Leave A Reply

Thanks for choosing to leave a comment. Please keep in mind that all comments are moderated according to our comment policy, and your email address will NOT be published. Please Do NOT use keywords in the name field. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation.