Create a category

Add a category or sub-category

To add a category to your top level content:

  1. Go to Knowledge Base > Articles.
  2. If it's your first category, select Add Your First Category. If you have existing categories, select Add Category in the Top Level Content column.  
  3. You can choose between a variety of category types that change the layout of the landing page. For more information on the different category types available, check out this guide.
  4. Once you choose a category type, select Quick Add to create the category and return to Knowledge Base > Articles to add more content, or select  Add and Edit to go to the category editor and customize the category further.

To add a sub-category:

  1. Go to Knowledge Base > Articles.
  2. Select the top level category where you want to add the sub-category.
  3. Select Add Sub-Category, and continue the category creation process. 

KnowledgeOwl does not limit the number of layers or levels of categories and sub-categories in your knowledge base, so if you want more than three layers, go for it! Just be sure to test how it displays in your table of contents so you don't create a monster. Note that blog style and topic display categories do not allow sub-categories.

Choose a category type

When you create or edit a category, you can choose between several different types of categories. Category types can be changed at any point in time by editing the category. 

The types of categories control :

  • How the category landing page appears in the knowledge base.
  • How the category looks and functions in the table of contents. 
  • Whether or not you can have sub-categories within the category.
  • Whether or not this category will pull and sync content from another knowledge base.
  • Whether or not the category will redirect to another web page when viewed.

The five types of categories in KnowledgeOwl are:

  • Default
    Displays articles in a simple list. Choose one of three sub-category display formats: title and description, sub-category panels, or content list. 
  • Blog style
    Display a paginated list of articles with brief descriptions. Can only contain articles.
  • Topic display
    Displays the full text of all articles in a single page. Can only contain articles.
  • Custom content
    Create a landing page from scratch like an article. This type of category is available in search.
  • Shared content
    Copy and sync a category and all its contents from another knowledge base.
  • URL Redirect
    Clicking on this category to view it redirects the reader to another webpage of your choice.

Default categories

The default category type is the most common choice for organizing and displaying content. You can create both subcategories and articles within a default category.

The landing page for a default category automatically displays the following:

  • Full category title
  • Category description
  • Subcategories (using one of three display types)
  • Articles in a simple list with the title and description

The subcategory display types are:

  • Title and description
    Displays category titles and description in a simple grid format with three categories to a row. Example: Company and product info We have a modified version with subcategories in our knowledge base (we force one subcategory per row): Example: Security and permissions
  • Subcategory panels
    Displays subcategory titles in panels matching the home page base category panels with three categories to a row. We have modified versions of this in our knowledge base (we force one category per row).
    When using subcategory panels, articles only show when using inline display for the Article Display options.

    So, for example, here is the same category as above with subcategory panels selected, without the inline display selected:
    And with the inline display selected, where articles are displayed in the same panels:

  • Content list
    Displays the title of each subcategory with a list of links to the first five sub-categories or articles in the categories. The total number of sub-categories and articles are displayed in parentheses with a link to view all. There is an option to show all child content rather than the first five. Example: Account and billing.
    Sample Default category > content list

After you set up your category, KnowledgeOwl automatically displays the category's content in the chosen format.

The default settings for a default category are:

  • Title and description sub-category display type
  • Toggle option in the table of contents

If you choose to Quick Add a category, it will have the default settings.

Table of contents appearance

Since default categories generally contain other content, they typically have an expand/collapse icon in the table of contents. See Category appearance in the table of contents for more details.

Topic display categories

Topic display categories display the full text of each article they contain. Readers can view all the topic display category's articles on a single page, reading it like a book or choosing which articles to read.

Example: User Management Guide

Topic display categories:

  • Can only contain articles (not sub-categories)
  • Can be displayed accordion style, with each article collapsed below its title and clicking the title expands the content
  • Can have quick links, or a mini table of contents, at the top of the article that link to each article on the page

Recommended use cases

Topic display categories are ideal for topics where you want a series of articles presented on a single screen, like chapters from a book or steps in a process. These are great for Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) or long user guides.

For example, you might have an FAQ page with 20 frequently asked questions and answers. If you set this up using a topic display category, you would create the 20 FAQs as 20 separate articles.

When someone wants to read your FAQs, they can browse to the topic display category and view all the FAQs in one place. However, when someone searches for one of the FAQs, the individual FAQ article comes up in search, giving them the answer immediately rather than sending them to the FAQ page and requiring them to browse to their question.

Besides FAQs, longer documentation with multiple steps or sections are often good candidates for topic display categories. Some readers might want to view the full documentation in one place like a guide, whereas others might only need or want help with one section or step. Breaking up the documentation into separate articles in a topic display category allows people searching to get straight to the step or section they need, while people who want to view the documentation in full can use the topic-based category page.

Sample topic display category, using quick links and override article links options


Because topic display categories display all of their articles' content, they also get their own PDFs. When you update an article in a topic display category PDF, you'll need to resave the category itself to update its PDF. You'll see a warning message across all articles in the category once this occurs:
Sample message when articles in a topic display category have been updated and the category PDF needs to be updated

As well as in the category itself:

Sample message in the topic display category when it needs to be resaved to generate a new PDF

Once you resave the category, the category's PDF automatically updates.

Display options

There are four additional display options for topic display categories. You can select as many or as few of these as you'd like.

Topic display category's Display Options

Accordion: collapses all child articles into expandable blocks with + / - ahead of them.

Accordion display option

Quick Links: creates a clickable Quick Links section, like a table of contents, at the top of the category. Clicking a link jumps you to that section of the category and, if Accordion is also selected, will expand the accordion.

Accordion and Quick Link display options

Short Article Titles: When this box is checked, if the articles in this category have short titles, those will be displayed in the Quick Links and as the article title, rather than the article Full Title. These sample articles have the required Full Title and an optional Short Title:

Override Article Links: By default, articles in topic display categories can also be accessed as standalone articles from search. Checking this box means that any time a link for this article is clicked (permalink, search result, and so on), it opens the version of this article placed within this category. Leave unchecked if you also want the article to appear as a standalone article.

Table of contents appearance

Since topic display categories generally contain other content, they typically have an expand/collapse icon in the table of contents. See Category appearance in the table of contents for more details.

Blog style categories

The blog style category displays articles in a similar way to a blog - reverse chronological order and paginated.

Example: Release Notes

The blog style category:

  • Can only contain articles
  • Does not display its articles in the table of contents
  • Can display 5, 10, 15, or 20 articles per page (the default is 10)
  • Can display articles in reverse chronological order OR in the same set order as the application (the default is reverse chronological)
  • In the article display, if a meta description exists for the article, that is used for the description. Otherwise, the first ~250 characters of the article body text are used.
  • Has a special icon in the table of contents, which looks like:

If your category uses reverse chronological order, it will sort your articles by:

  • Date published, if it exists, with most recently published at the top
  • Date created, if no date published exists

Recommended use cases

Aside from blog posts, this category type is particularly useful for announcements, such as:

  • Changes
  • Release notes
  • Newsletters

It gives readers the chance to browse through topics while keeping the most recent articles at the top. We use this format for our own Release Notes.

Sample blog style category layout, using reverse chronological order. Top entry uses first ~250 characters of article body; bottom uses article meta description.

Table of contents appearance

As noted above, blog style categories have a different icon displayed in the table of contents. See Category appearance in the table of contents for more details.

Shared content categories

The shared content category allows you to pull in and sync the content from a category in a separate knowledge base. You must have access to both knowledge bases to set up this kind of category.

This category type is useful when you are maintaining separate knowledge bases and have content that needs to be shared between them.

For more information on how syncing works, refer to Sync behavior in shared content categories.

Table of contents appearance

Shared content categories take on the table of contents display based on the category's overall type (default, topic display, blog, URL redirect, etc.) See Category appearance in the table of contents for the different icons.

Custom content categories

Custom content categories allow you to create your category landing page from scratch, much like an article. Like an article, custom content categories are included in search results. A custom content category is both an article and a category.

If the category has content, there are two display options, controlled using merge codes:

  1. [template("content-list")]
    The template content-list merge code will display subcategories in content list format.
  2. [template("panel-list")]
    The template panel-list merge code will display subcategories in subcategory panel format.

Both merge codes display a simple list of articles with titles and description below the subcategories.

Table of contents appearance

Custom content categories will show up in one of two ways in the table of contents:

  • If they contain additional content (like subcategories and articles), they'll get have an expand/collapse icon like default and topic display categories.
  • If they don't contain any additional content, they'll use the solid icon that URL redirect categories use.

See Category appearance in the table of contents for more details.

Recommended use case

Custom content categories are great when you want total control over your category's look and feel, or when you have a page of content you'd like readers to be able to subscribe to receive notifications on updates.

URL redirect categories

You can use URL redirect categories to include a category-styled link to other URLs, both within and outside of KnowledgeOwl.

When you use a URL redirect category, KnowledgeOwl does not show the content in the category; instead, it loads the URL specified in the URL redirect.

Once you save the category, you have the option to open the link in the same tab or a new tab.

Table of contents appearance

Since URL redirect categories generally don't contain content, they don't generally show an expand/collapse icon in the table of contents. See Category appearance in the table of contents for more details.

Recommended use cases 

URL redirect categories are a great solution when you want to provide a link to your company intranet, company website, or partner websites, and you want that link to appear in the table of contents, home page, or category landing pages, just like another category.

Example: go to Company and product information and click the Company website link.

Category appearance in the table of contents

KnowledgeOwl displays links to categories in the table of contents. The category type and contents can affect its appearance:

All category types include a right-pointing chevron or arrow until they are expanded, then it switches to a down-pointing chevron or arrow.

Blog-style categories have a different icon, which looks like a talking speech bubble.

Non-category links generally show up differently: 

Here's a sample of what you might see with differing categories:

In this knowledge base, we use plus (+) and (-) icons and show a different icon if the category contains no content. If you'd like that same look and feel, see Change the icons used in the table of contents for how we did it.