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September 19, 2023

WordPress provides a powerful taxonomy system, including post categories and tags. Users can also define custom taxonomies like product attributes in e-commerce sites. WPML makes it easy to translate all these taxonomies.

In this article, we’ll translate product categories as an example, but any taxonomy registered with WordPress has a similar interface. You can translate taxonomy terms individually, from the taxonomy edit screens, or centrally from WPMLTaxonomy Translation.

On This Page:

Enabling Taxonomy Translation in Settings

You can translate two aspects of your taxonomies: the terms themselves and the base slugs. You need to enable both of these in your settings before you can translate them.

Setting Taxonomy Terms to be Translatable

Go to the WPMLSettings page and scroll to the Taxonomies Translation section. Set your custom taxonomy to Translate. Note that you can also set the Translate option to show only translated items on the front-end or to use translation if available or fallback to the default language.

Making a custom taxonomy translatable
Making a custom taxonomy translatable

Enabling Translation of Custom Taxonomy Base Slugs

Go to the WPML → Settings page and scroll to the Slug translations section. Make sure the checkbox to translate custom post and taxonomy base slugs is selected.

Enabling translation of custom post and taxonomy base slugs
Enabling translation of custom post and taxonomy base slugs

Translating Taxonomies

WPML offers five ways for translating your taxonomies, depending on your preferred workflow.

Translating Taxonomy Terms as You Translate Pages or Posts

When you use the Advanced Translation Editor to translate a post or page, any taxonomy terms assigned to that content will also be available for translation.

Translating taxonomy assigned to a post using the Advanced Translation Editor

Simply translate the page or post as normal, or click the Translate automatically button to translate the page’s content and taxonomy using automatic translation.

Translating Your Taxonomy Terms From a Central Menu

WPML provides a central interface for translating all categories, tags, and custom taxonomies on your site.

Go to the WPML Taxonomy Translation page and use the drop-down menu to select which taxonomy to translate.

Taxonomy Translation page
Taxonomy translation menu

Once selected, you can translate the taxonomy’s terms and slugs.

Translating a taxonomy term (a category)
Translating a taxonomy term

As you apply these taxonomy terms to content, the translated content will be associated with the corresponding translated taxonomy.

WordPress allows you to save meta values for terms in a similar way to post metadata. In other words, taxonomy terms can feature custom fields that can also be easily translated while translating the terms. You can set your taxonomy term meta as translatable by going to WPMLSettings and scrolling to the Custom Term Meta Translation section.

Translating Taxonomy Terms Using the Taxonomy Edit Screens

You can add or edit taxonomy terms by going to PostsCategories or PostsTags. You can translate your taxonomy terms here as well. In this example, we will translate a category for a site that lists books.

  1. Go to PostsCategories and choose the term you want to translate. In our case, it’s Poetry.
  2. Scroll down to the Language meta box and click to add a translation in your secondary language.
Adding a translation to an existing taxonomy term
  1. This opens the Categories page again, but with French selected in the language switcher. You can also see a message, Adding a translation for: Poetry.
Creating a taxonomy term translation
  1. Add the name and slug in French and click Add New Category.

When you click to edit the term in the secondary language, you can now see which term it’s a translation of in the dropdown menu.

In the default language, you can see which languages you have translated a term into and their translations.

Translating all taxonomy terms at once

If your site has a lot of taxonomy terms, it might be inconvenient to translate them one by one. WPML provides you with an easy way to translate all your taxonomy terms at once and translate your terms instantly using automatic translation.

Translating WooCommerce taxonomy and product attributes

You can also assign taxonomy like categories, tags, and attributes to your WooCommerce products. You can translate these terms using WPML and WooCommerce Multilingual. Please see our documentation about WooCommerce Multilingual for more details on translating your product taxonomies.

Synchronizing Hierarchical Taxonomies

As a site grows there may be times when there is a need for the taxonomy hierarchy to change to accommodate the new content. Site admins usually make hierarchy changes to the taxonomy tree in one language and want the other languages to adjust automatically.

On the Taxonomy Translation page, click the Hierarchy Synchronization tab.

Taxonomy hierarchy sync

The tab displays taxonomy terms for synchronization when there is something to synchronize. Otherwise, it will display a message informing you that the taxonomy hierarchy is already synchronized.

Connecting Taxonomy Translations to the Default Language Terms

If you have a taxonomy translation that is not linked to the default language term, you can manually connect them.

  1. From the top admin bar, use the language switcher to switch to the secondary language.
Switching to the secondary language
  1. Go to Posts → Categories and Edit the category term in your secondary language.
Editing the category in the secondary language
  1. Scroll down to the Language box at the bottom of the page. Select the default language taxonomy term you want to connect the translation with. Then, click on the Update button to save your changes.
Connecting the translation to the default language term