I am trying to implement a front end posting system which shows taxonomy data in several dropdown select fields. Each of the dropdowns is named by using the "name" $arg in wp_dropdown_categories().

wp_dropdown_categories( array(
    'taxonomy'      => 'location',
    'hide_empty'    => 0,
    'orderby'       => 'name',
    'order'         => 'ASC',
    'name'          => 'location',
) );

As you can see taxonomy is "location" and the select name is also "location".

I then add the variables for each of the taxonomy select dropdowns like so along with post_title, post_content etc:

$title          = trim( $_POST['wpuf_post_title'] );
$content        = trim( $_POST['wpuf_post_content'] );
$tags           = wpuf_clean_tags( $_POST['wpuf_post_tags'] );
$customcategory = trim( $_POST['customcategory'] );
$cat            = trim( $_POST['cat'] );
$location       = trim( $_POST['location'] );
$sale_rental    = trim( $_POST['sale_rental'] );
$price          = trim( $_POST['price'] );

Finally I add the extra info into an array ready to be sent by wp_insert_post(). I'm quite stuck on whether I am doing the right thing by adding tax_input into the array like below as this is what I understand from codex that I need to do.

'tax-input' => array( 

So that it all ends up looking like this:

$my_post = array(
    'post_title'    => $title,
    'post_content'  => $content,
    'post_status'   => $post_status,
    'post_author'   => $userdata->ID,
    'post_category' => array( $_POST['cat'] ),
    'post_type'     => $customcategory,
    'tags_input'    => $tags,
    'tax_input'     => array( 

$post_id = wp_insert_post( $my_post );

However, when I submitted the new post, all the standard post data (and also my custom post type) goes in ok but the taxonomies do not. I'm obviously doing something wrong but what?

3 Answers 3


Use wp_set_object_terms after you have the post id for each taxonomy:

$post_id = wp_insert_post( $my_post );
wp_set_object_terms( $post_id, $location, 'location' );
wp_set_object_terms( $post_id, $sale_rental, 'sale_rental' );
wp_set_object_terms( $post_id, $price, 'price' );
  • I just do not know where i would be without your help, worked first time... many thanks Bainternet. Marked as answered
    – MartinJJ
    May 25, 2011 at 14:45
  • Glad i could help :)
    – Bainternet
    May 25, 2011 at 14:50
  • 1
    Are $location and $sale_rental arrays of integers or of strings?
    – Doug
    Oct 23, 2014 at 21:47

You can do it using wp_insert_post, but you must specify taxonomy as well in tax_input, so it should look like this:

$item['tax_input'] = array (
    'location'      => implode( ',', $location ),
    'sale_rental'   => implode( ',', $sale_rental ),
    'price'         => implode( ',', $price ),

I use implode() so that $location could be an array with multiple terms.

Also, notice that this works only for non-hierarchical taxonomies. For hierarchical taxonomies you must supply an array instead of astring.


Source of the problem

After some research to this topic, I was told to check the internals (which I did). As I were importing posts from an external feed as custom post type, I simply set the user to -1 (instead of adding a bot user). The problem I ran into was that wp_insert_post() with a tax_input set, internally checks for a user capability, which a non existing user obviously doesn't have.

SysBot for the rescue

The solution then was that I wrote the SysBot plugin. This way I could simply attach the SysBot user (which has the role of editor) to that newly created post and everything worked the way it was expected.

  • 1
    This explains why wp_insert_post when run via cron wasn't inserting the taxonomy terms! Sep 1, 2023 at 14:00

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