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How to Create Custom Taxonomies in WordPress

Do you want to create custom taxonomies in WordPress?

By default, WordPress allows you to organize your content with categories and tags. But with custom taxonomies, you can further customize the way you sort your content.

In this article, we’ll show you how to easily create custom taxonomies in WordPress with or without using a plugin.

How to create custom taxonomies in WordPress

While creating custom taxonomies is powerful, there’s a lot to cover. To help you set this up properly, we have created an easy table of content below:

What is a WordPress Taxonomy?

A WordPress taxonomy is a way to organize groups of posts and custom post types. The word taxonomy comes from the biological classification method called Linnaean taxonomy.

By default, WordPress comes with two taxonomies called categories and tags. You can use them to organize your blog posts.

However, if you are using a custom post type, then categories and tags may not look suitable for all content types.

For instance, you can create a custom post type called ‘Books’ and sort it using a custom taxonomy called ‘topics’.

You can add topic terms like Adventure, Romance, Horror, and other book topics you want. This would allow you, and your readers to easily sort books by each topic.

Taxonomies can also be hierarchical, meaning that you can have main topics like Fiction and Nonfiction. Then you’d have subtopics under each category.

For example, Fiction would have Adventure, Romance, and Horror as sub-topics.

Now that you know what a custom taxonomy is, let’s learn how to create custom taxonomies in WordPress.

How to Create Custom Taxonomies in WordPress

We will use two methods to create custom taxonomies. First, we’ll use a plugin to create custom taxonomies.

For the second method, we’ll show you the code method, and how to use it to create your custom taxonomies without using a plugin.

Create Custom Taxonomies In WordPress (Video Tutorial)

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If you prefer written instructions, then continue reading.

Creating Custom Taxonomies With A Plugin (The Easy Way)

First thing you need to do is install and activate the Custom Post Type UI plugin. For details, see our guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

In this tutorial, we’ve already created a custom post type and called it ‘Books.’ So make sure you have a custom post type created before you begin creating your taxonomies.

Next, go to CPT UI » Add/Edit Taxonomies menu item in the WordPress admin area to create your first taxonomy.

Creatig custom taxonomy using plugin

On this screen, you will need to do the following:

  • Create your taxonomy slug (this will go in your URL)
  • Create the plural label
  • Create the singular label
  • Auto-populate labels

Your first step is to create a slug for the taxonomy. This slug is used in the URL and in WordPress search queries.

This can only contain letters and numbers, and it will automatically be converted to lowercase letters.

Next, you will fill in the plural and singular names for your custom taxonomy.

From there, you have the option to click on the link ‘Populate additional labels based on chosen labels’. If you do this, then the plugin will auto-fill in the rest of the label fields for you.

Now, scroll down to the ‘Additional Labels’ section. In this area, you can provide a description of your post type.

Labeling your WordPress taxonomy

These labels are used in your WordPress dashboard when you’re editing and managing content for that particular custom taxonomy.

Next up, we have the settings option. In this area, you can set up different attributes for each taxonomy you create. Each option has a description detailing what it does.

Create custom taxonomy hierarchy

In the screenshot above, you’ll see we chose to make this taxonomy hierarchical. This means our taxonomy ‘Subjects’ can have sub-topics. For instance, a subject called Fiction can have sub-topics like Fantasy, Thriller, Mystery, and more.

There are many other settings further down your screen in your WordPress dashboard, but you can leave them as-is for this tutorial.

You can now click on the ‘Add Taxonomy’ button at the bottom to save your custom taxonomy.

After that, go ahead and edit the post type associated with this taxonomy in the WordPress content editor to start using it.

Using taxonomy in post editor

Creating Custom Taxonomies Manually (with code)

This method requires you to add code to your WordPress website. If you have not done it before, then we recommend reading our guide on how to easily add code snippets in WordPress.

1. Creating a Hierarchical Taxonomy

Let’s start with a hierarchical taxonomy that works like categories and can have parent and child terms.

Add the following code in your theme’s functions.php file or in a site-specific plugin (recommended) to create a hierarchical custom taxonomy like categories:

//hook into the init action and call create_book_taxonomies when it fires

add_action( 'init', 'create_subjects_hierarchical_taxonomy', 0 );

//create a custom taxonomy name it subjects for your posts

function create_subjects_hierarchical_taxonomy() {

// Add new taxonomy, make it hierarchical like categories
//first do the translations part for GUI

  $labels = array(
    'name' => _x( 'Subjects', 'taxonomy general name' ),
    'singular_name' => _x( 'Subject', 'taxonomy singular name' ),
    'search_items' =>  __( 'Search Subjects' ),
    'all_items' => __( 'All Subjects' ),
    'parent_item' => __( 'Parent Subject' ),
    'parent_item_colon' => __( 'Parent Subject:' ),
    'edit_item' => __( 'Edit Subject' ), 
    'update_item' => __( 'Update Subject' ),
    'add_new_item' => __( 'Add New Subject' ),
    'new_item_name' => __( 'New Subject Name' ),
    'menu_name' => __( 'Subjects' ),
  ); 	

// Now register the taxonomy
  register_taxonomy('subjects',array('books'), array(
    'hierarchical' => true,
    'labels' => $labels,
    'show_ui' => true,
    'show_in_rest' => true,
    'show_admin_column' => true,
    'query_var' => true,
    'rewrite' => array( 'slug' => 'subject' ),
  ));

}

Don’t forget to replace the taxonomy name and labels with your own taxonomy labels. You will also notice that this taxonomy is associated with the Books post type, you’ll need to change that to whatever post type you want to use it with.

2. Creating a Non-hierarchical Taxonomy

To create a non-hierarchical custom taxonomy like Tags, add this code in your theme’s functions.php or in a site-specific plugin:

//hook into the init action and call create_topics_nonhierarchical_taxonomy when it fires

add_action( 'init', 'create_topics_nonhierarchical_taxonomy', 0 );

function create_topics_nonhierarchical_taxonomy() {

// Labels part for the GUI

  $labels = array(
    'name' => _x( 'Topics', 'taxonomy general name' ),
    'singular_name' => _x( 'Topic', 'taxonomy singular name' ),
    'search_items' =>  __( 'Search Topics' ),
    'popular_items' => __( 'Popular Topics' ),
    'all_items' => __( 'All Topics' ),
    'parent_item' => null,
    'parent_item_colon' => null,
    'edit_item' => __( 'Edit Topic' ), 
    'update_item' => __( 'Update Topic' ),
    'add_new_item' => __( 'Add New Topic' ),
    'new_item_name' => __( 'New Topic Name' ),
    'separate_items_with_commas' => __( 'Separate topics with commas' ),
    'add_or_remove_items' => __( 'Add or remove topics' ),
    'choose_from_most_used' => __( 'Choose from the most used topics' ),
    'menu_name' => __( 'Topics' ),
  ); 

// Now register the non-hierarchical taxonomy like tag

  register_taxonomy('topics','books',array(
    'hierarchical' => false,
    'labels' => $labels,
    'show_ui' => true,
    'show_in_rest' => true,
    'show_admin_column' => true,
    'update_count_callback' => '_update_post_term_count',
    'query_var' => true,
    'rewrite' => array( 'slug' => 'topic' ),
  ));
}

Notice the difference between the 2 codes. Value for hierarchical argument is true for category-like taxonomy and false for tags-like taxonomies.

Also, in the labels array for non-hierarchical tags-like taxonomy, we have added null for parent_item and parent_item_colon arguments which means that nothing will be shown in the UI to create parent item.

Taxonomies in post editor

Displaying Custom Taxonomies

Now that we have created custom taxonomies and have added a few terms, your WordPress theme will still not display them.

In order to display them, you’ll need to add some code to your WordPress theme or child theme.

This code will need to be added in templates files where you want to display the terms.

Usually, it is single.php, content.php, or one of the files inside the template-parts folder in your WordPress theme. To figure out which file you need to edit, see our guide to WordPress template hierarchy for details.

You will need to add the following code where you want to display the terms.

<?php the_terms( $post->ID, 'topics', 'Topics: ', ', ', ' ' ); ?>

You can add it in other files as well such as archive.php, index.php, and anywhere else you want to display the taxonomy.

Custom Taxonomy Displayed

By default your custom taxonomies use the archive.php template to display posts. However, you can create a custom archive display for them by creating taxonomy-{taxonomy-slug}.php.

Adding Taxonomies For Custom Posts

Now that you know how to create custom taxonomies, let’s put them to use with an example.

We’re going to create a taxonomy and call it Non-fiction.

Since we have a custom post type named ‘Books,’ it’s similar to how you’d create a regular blog post.

In your WordPress dashboard, go to Books » Subjects to add a term or subject.

Adding a term for your newly created custom taxonomy

On this screen, you’ll see 4 areas:

  • Name
  • Slug
  • Parent
  • Description

In the name, you’ll write out the term you want to add. You can skip the slug part and provide a description for this particular term (optional).

Lastly, click the ‘Add New Subject’ button to create your new taxonomy.

Your newly added term will now appear in the right column.

Term added

Now you have a new term that you can use in your blog posts.

You can also add terms directly while editing or writing content under that particular post type.

Simply go to the Books » Add new page to create a post. On the post edit screen, you’ll find the option to select or create new terms from the right column.

Adding new terms or select from existing terms

After adding terms, you can go ahead and publish that content.

All your posts filed under that term will be accessible on your website on their own URL. For instance, posts filed under Fiction subject would appear at the following URL:

https://example.com/subject/fiction/

Taxonomy template preview

Now that you have created custom taxonomies, you may want to display in your website’s navigation menu.

Go to Appearance » Menus and select the terms you want to add under your custom taxonomy tab.

Adding terms to navigation menu

Don’t forget to click on the Save Menu button to save your settings.

You can now visit your website to see your menu in action.

Adding custom taxonomy in navigation menu

For more detailed, see our step by step guide on how to create a dropdown menu in WordPress.

Take WordPress Taxonomies Further

There are a ton of things you can do with custom taxonomies. For instance, you can show them in a sidebar widget or add image icons for each term.

You can also add enable RSS feed for custom taxonomies in WordPress and allow users to subscribe individual terms.

If you want to customize the layout of your custom taxonomy pages, then you can check out Beaver Themer or Divi. They’re both drag and drop WordPress page builder that allows you to create custom layouts without any coding.

We hope this article helped you learn how to create custom taxonomies in WordPress. You may also want to see our guide on how WordPress works behind the scenes, and how to create a custom WordPress theme without writing any code.

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Reader Interactions

109 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Hello.
    I don’t understand this part:

    ID, ‘topics’, ‘Topics: ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘ ‘ ); ?>

    I mean, should I paste exactly that part into my loop-single.php?
    I’m using a taxonomy called “writer”

    • It would depend on where you want to display the terms, normally it would be added to the single.php.

      Admin

  2. Hi,
    I used your article to create a CPT with a hierarchical and a non-hierarchical taxonomy attached to it. I created a few entries and it all seems to be working fine. Both taxonomies display fine in their respective archive pages. One thing I noticed though when I tried to add the taxonomies to the menu was that the non-hierarchical taxonomy was available in the “Add menu item” column but the hierarchical taxonomy was NOT.
    Is that an expected behavior? If not what could be going wrong?
    Thanks

    • The most common issues you could check would be that you have published content in the taxonomy and you may want to test adding a different content type to test if it is an issue with the taxonomy or something else.

      Admin

  3. what does this line do
    ‘menu_name’ => __( ‘Subjects’ ),

    is this in order to add taxonomies to the menu

    • You would want to check under your preferences to ensure it is not hidden for your user.

      Admin

  4. This tutorial and specifically the part of how to display the custom taxonomy was a lifesaver! I’m very much a beginner and this was very helpful in understanding where I went wrong in my coding.

    Thank you!!!

  5. this is very confident with the custom post ui, thanks very much ,it’s very useful for get them.

  6. Awesome tutorial! i have one question. how do i use my new taxonomy slug as permalink like category (/%category%/%year%/%monthnum%/%day%/%postname%/)

    I want something like /%custom_taxonomy%/%year%/%monthnum%/%day%/%postname%/

    i keep getting 404 error

    • That is not something WordPress would allow by default and would require some custom coding to set up.

      Admin

  7. i tried the plugin method , it sucessfully created a new category in custom post type but it is not showing on my posts like tags and other categoties. can you help me with that?

    • You would want to reach out to the support for your specific theme for customizing the display to include your taxonomy.

      Admin

  8. I am creating a podcast network where I have multiple podcasts on a single site with episodes under each individual podcast. Would something like this work for that? I really don’t want to go the multi site route.

    • You can certainly use this should you want or another option would be to create a custom post type depending on your preference.

      Admin

  9. Hello is possible add the custom taxonomies to a custom product type?

    I create a custom product call drinks and i have several taxonomies like country, material and etc

    I want when the user click in drinks then only apperas those taxonomies, is this posiible?

  10. Hi,
    Thanks for this article, I am getting 404 page after using this code, can you help me

    • If you haven’t done so yet, resave your permalinks for the most common solution :)

      Admin

  11. this code works great on my site for work. Can you tell me how to add the custom taxonomy into the site’s rss feed?

  12. thank you for taking the time to post this, this was the first site that actually explained this and it made sense, haha. im a happy camper now

    • It would depend on which method you used to create the custom taxonomy, if you’re using the plugin you would want to reach out to the plugin’s support to make sure they have show_in_rest set to true for seeing it in the block editor.

      Admin

      • No, I am not using any plugin. I have just copy paste your snippet. Its create new taxonomy. But it is not display in post editor page like category, tags display on rightside panel.

        Can you please guide me how can I show custom taxonomy in post editor page?

        • In the register_taxonomy array, you would want to first try adding a new line with the code below:
          ‘show_in_rest’ => true,

  13. The first half of this post is completely useless. the Simple Taxonomy plugin doesn’t work with the current WordPress version, and it hasn’t been updated in four years.

    Please try to find another plugin and change that section to go with the new one.

    • Thank you for letting us know, we’ll certainly take a look at updating this article.

      Admin

  14. Don’t forget to add ‘show_in_rest’ => true,
    if you want to use your custom items in rest api to $args

  15. I tried putting this in a site-specfic plug-in and get the following in a box at the top:
    y() expects parameter 1 to be a valid callback, function ‘create_topics_hierarchical_taxonomy’ not found or invalid function name in /home2/kaibabpr/public_html/wp-includes/class-wp-hook.php on line 286

    Warning: Cannot modify header information – headers already sent by (output started at /home2/kaibabpr/public_html/wp-includes/class-wp-hook.php:286) in /home2/kaibabpr/public_html/wp-admin/includes/misc.php on line 1198

    as this is the first time I tried this, I’m at a loss.

    • You may want to ensure your site-specific plugin is a php file after you added the code as sometimes your operating system can try to edit the file type.

      Admin

  16. Thanks for sharing this code. I used non-hierarchy code, and admin part is working fine. I have created a separate template as well like taxonomy-[taxoName]-.php But while trying to access the URL, giving HTTP error 500. I have tried multiple things, like new cache starts, permalink re-save, new .htaccess and memory increase. even then page is not working. kindly help

  17. Hi,
    than you for this useful information, iam new to wordpress and i wanted to know the meaning thats i landed here, it was actually helpful.

    Best Regards

    Joseph Peter

  18. I used the code for adding a tag to a custom post type. Luckily Topics is exactly the label I needed so all I needed to change was post to lesson (I am modifying the LifterLMS lesson post type).

    Now I want to display the tags. I tried using the default WordPress Tag Cloud but it does not change to the newly added tag. It continues to show all my post tags even when I choose Topics

    Is there a step I am missing? How do I display the new tag: Topics?

  19. Taxonomies don’t behave exactly like default posts’ categories. They don’t appear in the URL (especially for nested taxonomies). Is there any way to set a custom taxonomy associated to a custom post type to behave like posts’ categories ?

  20. I have used this code in my gallery custom post type for category support. It shows the name of the category but when i click on the category name it shows 404:error not found. Please help me to solve it. I want the category posts to show on my archive.php page.

    • I got this same problem that you are facing. The way I solved it is very easy. Go to your permalink settings and click the save button. Refresh the page. This simple step will save the issue.

  21. Hi, I created custom meta box with new category. I can also show it to the post page. But when I click to the newly created category item it gives a 404 page. I wan it to work like tags, default category or author. So that If I click it shows all the post under that category.

  22. Hello,

    I am new to WordPress and coding in general. This tutorial is very well explained, thank you.

    However I don’t understand how to display the terms of my taxonomy on my pages.
    Where do I have to go to “Add this single line of code in your single.php file within the loop” ?

    Thank you for your help
    Best,
    Olivier

  23. Thank you so much for this great tutorial!
    I created custom taxanomy on my website dedicated to books and now I’m able to filter books by authors!

  24. The trouble with some plugins is that they may not be compatible with all themes. I have found that it pays to have a qualified developer do his/her part and test and troubleshoot any Web site alteration after adding a plugin or updating WordPress to a newer version to ensure everything works as it should.

  25. Man you are a legend,
    i struggled 3 days to get this, which i found in many websites, but not as clear as this.
    Thanks!

      • I have used this code in my gallery custom post type for category support. It shows the name of the category but when i click on the category name it shows 404.php page. Please help me to solve it. I want the category posts to show on my archive.php page.

  26. I’ve created a custom post type and a taxonomy to go with it, but when I create a custom post and add tags to it they don’t show up like normal tags do on normal posts. How do I get them to display at the bottom of the post like normal so people can click on them and find more like it?

    Thank you!
    -Ayla

  27. Hi everybody! First of all thank you for this article!
    I’ve found that “Simple Taxonomies” plugin is kind of out of date, since it hasn’t been updated since 2 years…. do you have any other plugin to suggest to create custom taxonomies?
    thanks :-)
    Giulia

    • I’m not the author of this post, but I use “Custom Post Type UI” to create custom taxonomies. With 300k installs, I’m pretty sure this plugin is as close as you can get to industry standard.

      Hope this helps!

  28. Hello,

    The description is not prominent by default; however, some themes may show it. But still show on front.

    How to hide taxonomy description from front ?
    I want to add description on taxonomy but i don’t want they show on front .

    Please tell me about what i can do.

    Thank You

  29. The article is OK, but the video is very poor. The sound quality is bad, she talks way too fast, obvious things are elaborated on but the explanation of what you’re doing and why is missing, as is the other content in the lower portion of the article.

  30. I am working on a WordPress website. I created categories using a plugin called “Categories Images”. One of the categories is named “Videos” so there is one folder/category that is supposed to show videos but images. The problem is, because the plugin is designed to upload images only, the YouTube videos do not show up. How can I edit the PHP files (create a custom taxonomy, edit single.php, edit taxonomy-{taxonomy-slug}.php, etc.) so that the post can show and play YouTube videos??

    • If you want more control over how things are pulled from the backend to the frontend look into using the Advanced Custom Fields plugin. This is a plugin for developers (so some code is involved) but its very powerful for things like what you ask

  31. Hi I have followed the manual way of creating custom taxonomy and i just used Ads/Ad instead of Topics/Topic . But i don’t see any custom taxonomy in post editor though i checked the custom taxonomy form Screen Options.

    though the custom taxonomy(Ads) is showing in admin submenu under Posts.

    • Here is my code snipped in functions.php file

      _x( ‘Ads’, ‘taxonomy general name’ ),
      ‘singular_name’ => _x( ‘Ad’, ‘taxonomy singular name’ ),
      ‘search_items’ => __( ‘Search Ads’ ),
      ‘all_items’ => __( ‘All Ads’ ),
      ‘parent_item’ => __( ‘Parent Ad’ ),
      ‘parent_item_colon’ => __( ‘Parent Ad:’ ),
      ‘edit_item’ => __( ‘Edit Ad’ ),
      ‘update_item’ => __( ‘Update Ad’ ),
      ‘add_new_item’ => __( ‘Add New Ad’ ),
      ‘new_item_name’ => __( ‘New Ad Name’ ),
      ‘menu_name’ => __( ‘Ads’ ),
      );

      // Now register the taxonomy

      register_taxonomy(‘ads’,array(‘post’), array(
      ‘hierarchical’ => true,
      ‘labels’ => $labels,
      ‘show_ui’ => true,
      ‘show_admin_column’ => true,
      ‘query_var’ => true,
      ‘rewrite’ => array( ‘slug’ => ‘ad’ ),
      ));

      }

      ?>

  32. Hy Dear WPBEGINNER SUPPORT,

    I have learned many things in this tutorial next time will you please elaborate functions parameter which you have used some time i got in trouble or confused with parameters.

    Thanks a lot Nice tutorial 5 rating

  33. Is there a way to get multiple custom taxonomy to use the same slug or same url? Please show us how if you or anyone knows.

  34. It may sound obvious, but…remember to refresh the permalink cache or you can waste some hours trying to figure out why archive pages don’t work…

    • Thank you very much!!!
      I wasted hours in debug mode, but cannot determine why my permalink redirects to 404 page! But after flushing “permalink cache” all works fine.
      Thank you again!

  35. Hello.

    How can I get a different Posts Link? I mean I want to get 2 different links after I published a New Post.

    E.G:

    Category Name – > Facebook (theme template A)

    Topic Name – > Twitter (theme template B)

    Then I submit a post to these 2 Categories. I want get 1 link for “Facebook” and 1 Link for “Twitter”.

    Best Regards

  36. how to create single pages / templates for taxonomies?

    I mean like single.php not like category.php

  37. I’m building a site which has multiple item thumbnails, each of which leads to a page with multiple images for that item (i.e. product). Are taxonomies the way to go or should I be looking at something else?

  38. Hi This is a great tutorial. But what if I want to display a custom taxonomies as posts in my menu? for instance I have a custom post type called ‘poems’ and custom taxomies classic, modern, new wave. each poem post is assigned one of these taxonomies. In the menu I want to see a menu entitled poems with 3 subheadings (classic, modrn, new wave). Each will display only the poems tagged with one taxonomy. Is this possible?

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