ELI5: taxonomies and tags: what's the difference?

are tags a kind of taxonomy?

can taxonomies be used in ways different to tags?

i read through the docs but still don’t “get” it entirely - could someone ELI5?


Taxonomy is taxonomy. You can use it as described in the instructions.

They can be. Technically, this is up to you. You can add whatever taxonomies you want to Hugo arbitrarily. You can have “tags.” You can also have “hamburgers.” Or “spaceships.” That’s the the power of this feature: it allows you to create as many terms as you want that demonstrate a structured relationship between content. “Tags” and “categories” are just two seen in the common “blog” design pattern.

Please read the new docs explanation and let me know if it helps:


are the new docs different from the old ones? i can’t see any difference at first glance.

perhaps my confusion is the way the term is used, plural: “taxonomies”. perhaps this is specific to blog-land, or wordpress, or hugo, but in scientific literature isn’t there usually ONE taxonomy? “a taxonomy of animals” e.g. and there are “taxa” (plural of “taxon”) withn the taxonomy. for example let’s say “zebras” are a taxon, “whales” are a taxon, so we have two “taxa” - “zebras” and “whales”.

are “taxa” equivalent to “taxonomies” the way hugo uses it?

are “tags” or “categories” special/reserved keywords in hugo?

so if i am reading the docs correctly, the only difference between how i understand “tags” and “taxonomies” in hugo, is that hugo has all these auto features built in for taxonomies, i.e auto-generation of certain kinds of pages.


1 Like

I’m an STM publisher, so I can say that your definition is, in fact, correct. But what does this have to do with building websites? I only say this because I don’t think you should get hung up on matters of prescriptive usage, and we both know that words change meanings in context.

As the docs explain, taxonomy has a specific meaning in the context of Hugo that I think is best explained by the movie example. The movie example, in fact, clarifies somewhat parallel versions of your animal examples.

The way that Hugo uses “taxonomies” is pretty similar to the way most generators or CMSs use taxonomies as well. Here is an article on Wikipedia that shows that Wikipedia in fact uses “taxonomies” in this way (how meta!): Taxonomy - Wikipedia

“Tags” can be a type of taxonomy. “Categories” can be a type of taxonomy. “Whatever” can be a type of taxonomy. It’s up to you to define these in your site configuration and then assign content to them in your front matter.

From the docs:

“Hugo includes support for user-defined groupings of content called taxonomies. Taxonomies are classifications that demonstrate logical relationships between content.”

Yup. Also in the docs. Think about it like this:

  1. You have a tags taxonomy defined in your configuration.
  2. One tag you use is cheese. You assign 7 different pages to the tag cheese by adding tags: “cheese”` to the front matter of each page.
  3. Hugo makes it easy to build a page at yoursite.com/tags/cheese/ that lists those 7 pages.

Considerably. Look at more than one page, and give it more than a “first glance.” :wink: