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Difference between WordPress categories, taxonomies and tags

Categories, tags, taxonomies and terms are all related in WordPress. But whats the difference?

WordPress taxonomies

The default taxonomies in WordPress are:

  • Categories: a hierarchical taxonomy that organizes content in the post Post Type.
  • Tags: a non-hierarchical taxonomy that organizes content in the post Post Type.
  • Post formats: a method for creating formats for your posts.
  • Custom taxonomies: created by a plugin or theme.

Every category and tag is actually a taxonomy. The big difference is that categories are hierarchical and tags are non-hierarchical.

In short: a taxonomy is a way to group things together.


Terms are items within a taxonomy. For example, if you have the taxonomy (category) Animal you would have the terms cat, dog and bird.

Categories in the WordPress media library

By default WordPress has no support for categories in the media library. Luckily there is a plugin that creates categories in the WordPress Media library.

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