Joomla Sections and Categories

Understanding Joomla Content - Sections and Categories

Audience: Joomla Newbies / Joomla Webmasters

To setup and administer your Joomla website correctly you need to understand how content in Joomla works. Amongst other things you need to understand the difference between sections and categories and how these work with each other, This article will (try to) explain Joomla content.

Joomla Content

Articles  are written in the Content menu. Sections and categories are used to organise your content articles.

A good analogy to use to understand sections and categories are comparing to a filing cabinet. Each section is a filing cabinet. Each cabinet typically contains various drawers (categories) which further help the organisation of your filing. Individual files (articles) are then placed into a particular drawer, in a relevant cabinet. Alternatively, you can dump everything into a whole cabinet without any drawer, this is when you put all your content in the Uncategorized content.

As a real world example of the usage of sections and categories in a Joomla website, take a look at the organisation of this website. Amongst various sections we have a Joomla category. This will contain all articles related to a Joomla website. A number of categories then contain more specific articles (Tutorials / Tips and Tricks / Components / Development). Each article written MUST fall under one of these categories, and the Joomla backend will enforce you to put articles in sections / categories. In terms of the cabinet analogy, you cannot put a file into the cabinet without putting it into a drawer, or into a drawer without putting it into a cabinet.

Let's give another few examples of usage of Sections and categories. A fishing website example:

Fishing Rods (S)

  • Coarse Fishing Rods (C)
  • Carp Fishing Rods (C)
  • Fly & Game Fishing Rods (C)
  • etc

As can be seen above we have the Fishing Rods section marked with an (S), and a number of different categories (C) of fishing rods. Each individual rod (content item) will fall under one of these categories under the general Fishing Rods section.

Baits (S)

  • Artificial Baits (C)
  • Pellets and pastes (C)
  • Canned Baits (C)
  • etc.

Here we different categories of baits, all falling under the Baits section.

Another good example is a gaming website. We will have various sections each with different categories pertaining to them. Different games (articles) will fall under one of the categories defined. 

Console (S)

  •  XBox 360 (C)
  • Playstation 2 (C)
  • Playstation 3 (C)
  • Wii (C)
  • Gamecube (C)
  • etc.

 Handheld (S)

  • Sony PSP (C)
  • Nintendo DS (C)
  • Game Boy Advance (C)
  • etc. (C)

One limitation of Joomla is that it does not support nested categories / sections. The hierarchy which you may create can consist of Section > Category > Content Item. It is not possible to create sub-categories. This is a limitation for certain things, however it is advisable to think up a design which will only use the hierarchy described above. Nesting to more than 3 levels deep has several disadvantages:

  • Navigation becomes too complicated for your users
  • Search engines (Google) recommends not more than 3 levels of nesting
  • Trying to administer a site which allows no limits on categorisation becomes a nightmare

Therefore, you should think of ways and means of fitting your content into the hierarchy described above. It seems that millions of Joomla users have managed to do this, so there shouldn't be any reason why you should not be able to do this :)

One more thing...

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