Categories can be a powerful tool for organizing your posts. Many magazine-style themes for WordPress rely on categories to break articles into divisions, much like a magazine's departments or a newspaper's sections. You can also get a feed for each of your categories (see the Feeds section of this chapter). By styling your categories differently and publicizing the otherwise hidden feeds for individual categories, you can create the illusion of multiple blogs for your visitors, even though behind the scenes you're maintaining just one. I'll look at this more closely in Chapter 7.

To manage categories, go to Categories under Posts in the main menu. You'll be able to add, edit, or delete categories. You'll also be able to add descriptions, change slugs, or even convert categories to free-form tags (Figure 4-12).

Figure 4-12. Managing categories

Categories can be arranged into hierarchies. When you create a new category, you'll have the option to make it a child of an existing one. There is no limit to the depth of your categories.

Categories must have distinct slugs. Even if two categories have different parents and would therefore have different permalinks, you can't assign them the same slug. If you choose a slug that's already in use, WordPress will discard your new category and highlight the existing one that uses that slug.

When you're editing an individual post, the Categories box shows a hierarchical list of all your categories. If you don't check one, the default category you chose in your Writing Settings will be checked for you when you save the post. All posts in WordPress must have at least one category selected. However, you can select as many as you like. Once you've selected categories, they'll be moved to the top of the list—outside the normal hierarchy—the next time you edit the post. If your hierarchy is important and you'd like to preserve the normal, indented view, use the Category Checklist Tree plugin.

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