Choosing Between WordPress Custom Post Types and Post Categories: A Beginners Guide

custom posts

Using WordPress as a content management system (CMS), you often have the choice between using a custom post type (CPT) or simply categorizing your posts. Both methods have their own advantages and use cases. Here’s a breakdown to help you decide:

Use a Custom Post Type (CPT) when:

  1. Different Structure: You need a content type that has a different structure than standard posts. For example, if you’re creating a movie database, you might want fields for director, release date, cast, etc., which are not typical for standard posts.
  2. Distinct Features: You want to add specific features or functionalities to a particular type of content. For instance, a “Products” CPT might have e-commerce functionalities that standard posts don’t need.
  3. Separate Theming: You want a completely different look or layout for a specific content type. CPTs can have their own single and archive templates.
  4. Admin Organization: You want to keep certain content types separate in the WordPress admin for clarity and organization. For example, having a separate “Books” section in the dashboard instead of mixing them with other posts.
  5. Different Permissions: You need to set different user roles or permissions for a specific content type. For instance, only certain users can add/edit “Events” but not standard posts.

Use a Post Category when:

  1. Similar Structure: The content you’re adding is similar in structure to your standard posts. For example, if you’re just differentiating between “News” and “Blog” articles.
  2. Simple Organization: You simply want to organize your posts for readers. Categories are great for this, as they allow readers to filter posts based on their interests.
  3. SEO: Categories can be beneficial for SEO as they group similar content together, making it easier for search engines to understand the context.
  4. Ease of Use: Using categories is straightforward and doesn’t require additional setup or plugins, unlike CPTs.
  5. Tagging and Hierarchies: You want to take advantage of the hierarchical nature of categories or use tags alongside them for further organization.


  • If you’re looking to add a completely new type of content with its own set of features, structure, and design, then a custom post type is the way to go.
  • If you’re merely trying to organize or differentiate your standard posts, then using categories (or even tags) is sufficient.

Remember, it’s essential to plan ahead. Changing your mind later on can be a cumbersome process, especially if your site has grown significantly.

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