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Categories on Ballotpedia are a way to sort similar articles into groupings that are helpful for readers and contributors. Some contributors think of categories as filing cabinets.

Many articles are in more than one category. For example, the article on the Maine Medical Marijuana Initiative (1999) is in a category for all Maine 1999 ballot measures and in a category for all articles about Maine marijuana-related ballot measures.

You can review all of Ballotpedia's categories here.

How to place an article in a category

To put an article in a category, you must type a category tag at the bottom of the article.

This is what that looks like:

[[Category:Maine 1999 ballot measures]]

Some parts of what you need to type are case-sensitive and some are not. It doesn't matter whether you capitalize the word "Category" or not, and it also doesn't matter whether you capitalize the first word of the category. These two ways of typing will put an article in the same category:

  • [[category:maine 1999 ballot measures]]
  • [[Category:Maine 1999 ballot measures]]

However, all other words in the category are case-sensitive. If you type this on one article:

  • [[category:California 2008 ballot measures]]

And this on another article:

  • [[Category:California 2008 Ballot Measures]]

...the two articles will not appear in the same category. A reader who clicks on [[category:California 2008 ballot measures]] will not be able to find any of the articles that were placed in [[category:California 2008 Ballot Measures]] and vice versa.

How categories help readers

Editing Help
1328101905 Help.png
Editing guide
Textual standards
Visual standards
Glossary of terms
Edit review process

This article is included in two categories, Category:Editing Help and Category:Ballotpedia basic information. When a reader of this article--a reader who is looking for help in figuring out how Ballotpedia works--clicks on one of those category links at the bottom of the article, he or she will be directed to a collection of other articles that are about learning your way around Ballotpedia.

Categories help readers browse through and find articles they are likely to be interested in.

Categories also help contributors quickly find all articles in a particular category in case they want to make an addition or change that is relevant to all articles of a certain type.

How to decide what categories an article belongs in

If you're writing an article and want to put it in a category, think about whether the article is on a subject that other articles will be written about. Are you writing about a tax limit initiative? Are you writing about a newspaper in Missouri? If another article is likely to appear on Ballotpedia that is about a tax limit initiative (just not the one you're writing about) or about a newspaper in Missouri (just not the newspaper you're writing an article about), then consider putting the article in a category.

See also: Help:List of Ballotpedia topic categories. This is a list of the names of topic categories in use on Ballotpedia. Any ballot measure falls under one or more topic categories.

Check to see if there is already a category your article fits in

The way you do that is by visiting Special:Categories.

How to put your article in categories

Once you have decided to put your article in categories, the steps to follow are:

  • On the "edit" page for the article, place your cursor at the end of the article.
  • Type two initial square brackets: [[
  • Type the word "Category" followed by a colon, as in: Category:
  • Type the name of the category, which can be a new category or a pre-existing category. For example: Ballotpedia basic information
  • Type two concluding square brackets: ]]
  • Preview your work and then click "save page".
  • You're done.

As reviewed above, remember that category names are case-sensitive. If you're trying to put an article in the category "Colorado ballot measures" and you type "Colorado Ballot Measures", your article will go into a category called "Colorado Ballot Measure" which won't be good because all the other articles on Ballotpedia about Colorado ballot measures are in the "Colorado ballot measures" category.

By default, all categories on Ballotpedia are written in lowercase. An exception is made for proper nouns. If the contributors to a particular project on Ballotpedia want to use a different upper case/lower case convention, they should spell this out very clearly on their project page; otherwise, confusion will soon result.

Seeing is believing

This 'shows' what was just instructed, above:

[[category:california 2009 ballot measures]]
[[category:gambling, California]]

Yes, putting articles in categories is that easy.

Example of an article with useful category tags

The Colorado Civil Rights Initiative (2008) is an example of an article that has been sorted into some useful categories.

How to remove category tags from an article

If you think an article has been mis-categorized, go to the "edit" screen of that article, scroll to the bottom of the edit screen where you'll find the category tags, and delete category tags you believe are obsolete or unhelpful.

If you do decide that an entire category is obsolete:

  • Visit that category's page and note the articles it includes so you can move all those articles to a new category.
  • Otherwise, those other articles will end up orphaned in an obsolete category.
  • If other contributors are working on that set of articles, check with them first.

Sub-categories and parent categories

The artful use of subcategories is extremely helpful. One category (for example, California political consultants), can be a subcategory of two different, larger categories, the Category:California category and the Category:Political consultants category. Rather than categorize an article about a California political consultant as belonging to the "California" or "political consultants" category, you'd add a category tag at the bottom of the article saying [[Category:California political consultants]], which appears as Category:California political consultants.

Creating sub and parent categories

When you are on the page for the category which you wish to designate as a subcategory of some larger category, simply add a category tag on the page you want to designate as a subcategory to the larger category. For example, on the category page for Category:California political consultants, type both [[:Category:California]] and [[:Category:Political consultants]]

By doing that, you have simultaneously made Category:Political consultants a parent category of Category:California political consultants, and made Category:California political consultants a subcategory of Category:Political consultants.