Category vs. Subject vs. Topic vs. Tag

Categories, subjects, topics, and tags—oh my

Setting the terms for paper organizing

Paper Peace
by Catherine Anderson,

full chart illustrating the hierarchy of filing system classification terms
To classifying files effectively, it’s critical to understand the hierarchy of the most

Categories, subjects, topics, and tags are all terms used in file organizing discussion. Unfortunately, they are all used interchangeably, and they shouldn’t be. There’s a hierarchy, and the order is essential.

Here’s how the terms differ

A category is a broad title for a group of subjects. Categories are basic and few.
Broad title for a group of subjects
The JOYS® categories highlighted above—Everyday, Wealth, Wellness, Comforts, and Experiences— contain all the subjects of life. One additional category—Essentials collects the most vital information from the five basic categories.
A subject is a title for a group of topics.
A subject is a title for a group of topics.
Subjects are assigned to a category to organize your files in more detail. For example, School, Family, and Work are subjects within my Everyday category. Organizing papers by subject within categories make specific papers more straightforward to find and maintain.
Topics are specific and related to a subject
Typically, a topic highlights a person, business, thing, activity, or location. For example, Pay Stubs, Expenses, and Jobs are topics within the subject of Work.
In essence, a tag is all of the above and more. Tags are a blessing and a curse because they leave you with so many choices.

Psst...Spread the Joys!

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