I am using wp_list_categories to return (you guessed it) a list of categories within a custom taxonomy. The orderby parameter accepts sorting by ID, name, slug, count, and term_group. Is there a way that I can custom sort the results? Ideally I could pass an array of category ID's in the desired order, but obviously I'll have to dig a bit deeper to get this sorted.

  • when you say post ids do you mean that you want to get the categories of those posts or do you mean that you want to pass category ids?
    – fdsa
    Jul 10, 2012 at 3:09
  • My mistake, I meant category ID's, not post ID's. It's been a long day, ha. Let me fix the answer.
    – Ryan
    Jul 10, 2012 at 4:03

1 Answer 1


There is an unused column, term_order, in the wp_term_relationships table that you can use to assign a custom order to the terms within your taxonomy. The order is set at 0 by default and it will take a custom query to get the order back and another solution to set the order.

Example query:

function wpse_order_taxes() {
        global $wpdb;
        $results = $wpdb->get_results ( "SELECT * FROM $wpdb->terms t inner join $wpdb->term_taxonomy tt on t.term_id = tt.term_id WHERE taxonomy = 'category'  ORDER BY term_order ASC LIMIT 0, 10" );
        $categories = array();
        foreach ( $results as $cat ) {
            array_push( $categories, $cat->slug );
        return $categories;

This would give you back an array of terms ordered by the custom order.

  • Thanks! I didn't know about the term_order column. I will see if I can get that to work and report back.
    – Ryan
    Jul 10, 2012 at 4:04
  • 2
    +1 but this also means, that you are hoping, that core won't use it ever ;)
    – kaiser
    Jul 10, 2012 at 5:19
  • 1
    It would be nice if it got used to order categories. It's actually used for galleries. A few trac tickets on it: core.trac.wordpress.org/ticket/9547#comment:7
    – Chris_O
    Jul 10, 2012 at 6:18

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