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Organization is Key
It's been said several times that organization will set you free. When things are in their proper place, work gets done faster and there is less over-all effort. One of the great things about Joomla is that it provides a built in organizational system that is comprised of two key parts: The categories and the sections. These two sections are used to help organize all your blogs, articles, or pages without them getting cluttered. They reduce the need for extensive searching and sorting, allowing you to work faster and more efficiently. In this article, we'll highlight the differences between Joomla's sections and categories.
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A Technical Definition of Section vs Category:
A section - represented by green folders - is a parent item of a category, and a category - represented by yellow folders - is a directory that holds articles. While sections are required to publish any sort of content, Joomla does include a default "uncategorized" category, allowing you to publish articles without a category. This is called a hierarchy, which is the term given to a grouping of things within a system. Here is a quick image that explains the Joomla organization hierarchy.
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Understanding the Differences:
When looking at a Joomla section vs. category, it is important to think of them in a way that is easier to relate to. Think of Joomla's section feature as being organized like a bookshelf, stacked with various types of books filled with all sorts of information - or in your Joomla site's case, articles. A category is like a book. It deals with one certain subject, such as your blogs from a certain month or pictures from a certain photography trip. So, an easy way to remember how everything works is chapters go into books, books go into bookshelves. Articles go into categories, and categories go into sections.
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What to Use a Section for:
When you begin to create your pages, articles, or blogs, using sections to organize your broader sections will help you keep everything sorted out. Use sections for things like "Blogs" "Pictures" "Tutorials" and "FAQs." This will help you make sure that all your categories get grouped together where they belong. Keeping these broad helps you to eliminate clutter from too many specialized areas.
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What to Use a Category For:
By grouping categories together inside the proper sections, you can easily organize everything you need. For example, if you organize your blogs by months in your categories, such as "May 2010" "June 2010" etc etc, you would put them inside a section called "Blogs" or possibly "2010 Blogs." Then, when you write your blog, you simply pick which section, then category you want. If you publish a lot of tutorials, you could place them in a category such as "Adobe Photoshop" or "Adobe Flash" and those would go within a section called "Tutorials." Keeping categories somewhat specific allows you to group a large amount of articles within a very specific area to make searching, browsing, editing, and all other functions much easier.
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How to Create Sections:
In the "content" tab of the drop down menu, select "Section Manager." In the top-right menu (not pictured) select "New." Then, simply fill in the title (ex: Blogs) and the alias (ex: blogs). Any other information you wish to provide is optional. After you finish filling in any or all of the information you would like to, press Save which is located at the top-right of the screen (not pictured).
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How to Create Categories:
In the "content" tab of of the top drop-down menu, select "Category Manager." Just as before, select "New" from fill in the title (ex: May 2010) and the alias (ex: may2010). Now, you must pick a section to be the parent item of your newly created category, or Joomla will not let you save it. Make sure you have already created the section you need. When you have finished everything, save it just has you have before!
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Images provided are property of Joomla.org and used for educational purposes only. Assembled in Photoshop CS4 by the author of this article.