Since 3.1 WordPress support multiple taxonomy query. The question is : If I have a two taxonomy query, e.g:


how can I determine which template to be used for the query? On the first try, it loads taxonomy-lot-term.php, but after I re install the theme, it loads taxonomy-story-type.php instead.

After some experiment, I found a way to make it use my preferred template file by using a single taxonomy query first (the preferred taxonomy template file) and altering it using query_posts. But I believe there is a better way to do it since it add another SQL query.

Thank you in advance.


I'm not sure if this the best method, and I would like to hear some other suggestions!

This will alter the template to some pre-defined template if two or more taxonomies are being queried. You can hard-code the taxonomies to check or use get_taxonomies:

* Checks to see if more than one of (certain) taxonomies are being queried
* If they are, alters the template to 'my-multitax-template.php' (if it can find it)
add_filter('template_include', 'my_multietax_template');
function my_multietax_template( $template ){

    //Array of taxonomies to check
    $taxes = array('story','lot-term');

    //Or select ALL taxonomies (or pass $args array argument)

    //Keep track of how many of the selected taxonomies we're querying
    $count =0;
    global $wp_query;
    foreach ($taxes as $tax){
        if(isset($wp_query->query_vars[$tax] ))
            $count ++;

        if($count > 1){
            //Locate alternative template.
            $alternate = locate_template('my-multitax-template.php');
                $template = $alternate;
    return $template;

Of course 'my-multitax-template.php' could in fact be the template name of one of the taxonomies, to give that taxonomy template precedence. Or add additional, more involved logic, if you a querying more than 2 taxonomies and want WordPress to load different templates according to particular cases.

  • This looks interesting. I'll give it a try. Thank you ! – ifdion Feb 27 '12 at 11:49
  • I can't get this filter work :(. Copy pasted the script to the bottom of function.php. Changed the $taxes = array('story-type','lot-term'); and the locate_template('taxonomy-lot-term.php'); but no luck. – ifdion Mar 3 '12 at 6:34
  • 1
    There is a missing right bracket after if(!empty($alternate) that might be the problem. If not, go into 'debug' mode so that you can see any error messages. – Stephen Harris Mar 3 '12 at 12:24
  • Its not the missing bracket. I tried to remove the $template = $alternate; from the conditional statement, but nothing changed. And strangely theres no error on the page after define('WP_DEBUG', true); – ifdion Mar 5 '12 at 3:12
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    It should read if(!empty($alternate)). Try wp_die-ing to determine if the logic is correct (i.e. it tries to locate your alternative template) and if it is, use wp_die to see if it has located the template. – Stephen Harris Mar 5 '12 at 11:06

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