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What is a "Category?"[edit | edit source]

Categories work much like indexes, grouping articles under similar subjects, localities, or topics. Categories (along with other features like cross-references, lists, and infoboxes) help users find information, even if they don't know that the information exists or what it's called.

Further information: FamilySearch Wiki:Category namespace

When to use categories[edit | edit source]

Every article should belong to at least one category. The categories to be included, which serve as classifications, should be the significant (useful) topics to which the subject of the article most closely belongs to as a member, and where users are most likely to look if they can't remember the name of the thing they are trying to look up. For example:

Article: United States Vital Records
Useful category: Category:United States
Not as useful: Category:United States records which start with V
  • Be careful not to put an article in a category that is the same as the name of the article. For example, do not put “Missouri Vital Records” in the category: "Missouri Vital Records.” It goes in the category: “Missouri.” Missouri Birth Records would go in the category: “Missouri Vital Records.”

Questions to ask to determine whether it is appropriate to add an article to a category:

  • If the category does not already exist, is it possible to write a few paragraphs or more on the subject of the category, explaining it?
  • If you go to the article from the category, will it be obvious why the article was put in the category?
  • Is the category subject prominently discussed in the article?
  • Does the category fit into the overall category system? Categories that don't fit are often deleted.

If the answer to any of these questions is no, then the category is probably inappropriate. Note that it is always appropriate to add articles to categories that fit into well established taxonomies, such as those within the Library of Congress Authorities.

Before creating a category[edit | edit source]

Before creating a new category, see if a suitable one already exists. You may find an existing category that is similar to the one you are thinking about creating.

Browse existing categories here, or follow the instructions below:

  1. Locate the "Toolbox" in the navigation bar, and click on the "Special pages" link; (see below):
  2. This will open the "Special pages for all users" list.
  3. In the "Special pages for all users" list, click "Categories" (see below):
  4. This will open the "Categories" page. Browse through the list to determine if the category that best describes your article exists.
  5. If you are unsure if the category is suitable for your article, click on the category to view other pages and articles in the category, or subcategories within that category.
  6. Write down or copy the category name to ensure accurate use. (Highlight the name, then press Ctrl+C.)

How to add a category to a page[edit | edit source]

  1. Log in to the FamilySearch Research Wiki
  2. Navigate to the page you want to categorize
  3. Click "Edit" in the page options box. This will open the Editing window.
  4. In the Editing window, scroll to the bottom of the article.
  5. Type the category title into the page as shown below:
  6. Example category text: [[Category:United States]]. As shown here, the word "Category" is followed by a colon and the name of the category. Two square brackets surround this text, before, and after the name of the category.
  7. Multiple categories may be added to each page by separating each bracketed entry with a space. For example, to categorize a page under "United States" and "Indians of North America," the entry you would add to the page would look like this: [[Category:Indigenous Peoples of North America]] [[Category:United States]]
  8. Scroll down until you see the "Save page" button.
  9. In the Summary field in the edit screen, add the text "cat." This will allow those viewing the "History" of the article to quickly see who added a category to the page.
  10. Click "Save page."

Using sort keys[edit | edit source]

To change the position of an entry in the list, define an explicit sort key for that entry. This is done in the original category declaration on that entry's page, by adding the desired sort key after a pipe.

For example, [[Category:United States|Indians]] places a page in the "United States" category with the sort key "Indians".

Creating a new category[edit | edit source]

If the category you want does not exist, you can create it. Naming a category well can be tricky. The most efficient way to arrive at a good name for a category is to first obtain a list of terms that others have used for the topic in question. Review the Wiki Common Taxonomy policy that has been established for this purpose. Also the list of terms are available in a library catalog. Librarians have been categorizing knowledge for generations, so it's helpful to use their experience. Two excellent examples are: the Library of Congress Authorities and the Family History Library Catalog (Subject Search). Naming conventions can also be helpful in creating titles and categories.

To create a new category:

1. Follow steps 1-7 in "How to add a category to a page." Instead of typing an existing category name, type the category name you want to create. For example, type [[Category:New category name]]

2. Save the page. After it is saved the new category will appear in red at the bottom of the saved page. Just like with newly created pages, a red link means that the article/category has not actually been created.

3. Click on the red link. This will open the Editing window for the new category page.

4. In the editing window, add text (such as a description of the category) and/or a category to the new category (this will make the new category a sub-category of another). The category page will not be active until text or a category is added.

Two helpful things to include in a category page are:
  • A description of the category -- what it should contain.
  • A note about how you arrived at the category's name, including any aids you used. For instance, many writers use the Library of Congress Authorities as a source for good category names.

5. Scroll down until you see the "Save page" button located below the editing window.

6. In the Summary field in the edit screen, add the text "create cat." This will allow those viewing the "History" of the article to quickly see who added a category to the page.

7. Click "Save page".

Removing a category from an article[edit | edit source]

If you feel someone has categorized an article in error, it is best to discuss the matter with them before disassociating the article and the category. Use the article's "Talk" page to do this.

Removing a category from an article is as easy as pressing the delete or backspace key. Follow these steps to remove a category from an article:

  1. Log in to the FamilySearch Research Wiki.
  1. Navigate to the page you want to remove the category from.
  1. Click "Edit" in the page options box. This will open the Editing window.
  1. In the editing window, locate the category link at the bottom of the page.
  2. NOTE: Depending on which editor you are using, this may appear in Wikitext as follows: [[Category:Scotland]], or similar to the following image:CategoryScotland.png
  1. Using the backspace or delete key on your keyboard, delete the category link.
  1. Scroll down until you see the "Save page" button.

In the Summary field in the edit screen, add the text "delete cat." This will allow those viewing the "History" of the article to quickly see who removed a category from the page.

  1. Click "Save page".

Redirecting categories[edit | edit source]

Although it is possible to attempt to redirect categories by adding a line such as #REDIRECT [[Category:United States]] to a category, it is not generally recommended because of limitations in the mediawiki software. Categories "redirected" in this way do not prevent the addition of articles to the redirected category. Articles added to the "redirected" category do not show up as in the target category. Until these issues are addressed (in future versions of the software), #REDIRECT should not be added to category pages.

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How to create subcategories[edit | edit source]

Jurisdictions Cascade.png

Subcategories are categories that fit within a main category. Some categories may be too broad to cover all necessary topics. Subcategories are an easy way of including more detail in a category. A subcategory must first be created as a regular category. Follow the instructions for creating a new category to begin creating the subcategory.

Next, you will add a category to the page that will become the subcategory. On the page that will become the subcategory, type the name of the parent category: [[Category:parent_category_name]] This may seem counterintuitive, because you edit the subcategory page rather than the parent category page.

For example:

Let's say that you wanted to make the category called Roses into a subcategory of the category called Flowers.

Step 1 - Go to the page called [[Category:Roses]], and click edit this page.
Step 2 - Place the text [[Category:Flowers]] within the body of the [[Category:Roses]] page, and click "Save page."
Finished! Roses is now a subcategory of Flowers, and [[Category:Roses]] will be visible on [[Category:Flowers]].

Extension to View Categories[edit | edit source]

  • The CategoryTree extension provides a tree structure of categories as well as number of pages and files in that category.
  • There is a limit to how many levels of subcategories shown for a category. It appears to be about 4 levels.
  • Place the following code on a sandbox page to use the extension:

<categorytree depth=100 mode=all showcount=on>United States</categorytree>

See also[edit | edit source]