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Quick Reference: To categorize a wiki article page, type [[Category:Alaska]] at the bottom of the page in the editing window.

NOTE: This article has been simplified. To view previous content contained on this page, visit the Advanced Categorization page.

What is a "Category?"

Categories work similar to an index, 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 it exists or what it's called.

When to use categories

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

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

Before creating a new category, see if a suitable one already exists. You may find that a category already exists 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 

  1. Click the edit tab of the article you will categorize.
  2. Go to the bottom of the page.
  3. Paste the category title into the page.
  4. Add two square brackets before and after the category text. For example, if you want to add the category "United States" to an article, type [[Category:United States]] at the bottom of the article.
  5. Multiple categories can be added. Separate each bracketed entry with a space. For example, if you wanted 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:Indians of North America]] [[Category:United States]]
  6. In the Summary field in the edit screen, add the text "cat." This will allow others viewing the History of the article to quickly see that the change you made to the page was to add a category.
  7. Click Save Page.

Click here to view a Guided Practice on how to add a category to a wiki article.

Creating a new category

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. 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. Add the new category to an already existing page, following the instructions above titled "Adding the category to the article."  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 pages, a red link means that the article/category has not actually been created.
3. Click on the red link to open the new category's edit page.

4. Add text to the new category.

5. Save it to officially create the new category.

Saving the new category page

Each new category has its own page. The category name will appear red on any page where it is listed until the category page is edited and saved. You can navigate to a category's page in one of two ways:

  • Click the category's name within the page you categorized.
  • Click the category name in the Special Pages --> Categories page.

After navigating to the category's page, you can then edit and save it.

Two helpful things to include in a category page are:

  • A description of the category -- what it should and should not 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. The Library of Congress has been creating categories for generations, so they've thought out a great many issues in naming topics. Using an aid like the Library of Congress authorities can save you a lot of time because it can help you generate category titles that won't have to be renamed later. That can help you avoid spending hours later recategorizing articles. Adding a note about aids you used in naming a category can also prevent conflict with other users who would otherwise change the name of the category you created.

Removing a category from an article

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 "Discussion" 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
  2. Navigate to the page you want to remove the category from. 
  3. Click "Edit" in the page options box. This will open the Editing window.
  4. In the editing window, locate the category link at the bottom of the page. 
  5. 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
  6. Using the backspace or delete key on your keyboard, delete the category link.
  7. Save the article.

Redirecting categories

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.

How to create subcategories

Subcategories may be created by putting [[Category:parent_category_name]] onto the page that you would like to make into a subcategory. This may seem counterintuitive, because you edit the subcategory page rather than the parent category page.

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]] article, and save.
Finished! Roses is now a subcategory of Flowers, and [[Category:Roses]] will be visible on [[Category:Flowers]].