Create Multiple Word Tags

Posted by FuzzicalLogic on 14 Feb 2009 10:44, last edited by GoVegan on 06 Nov 2010 14:18

Tags: multiple organization tags word

rating: +4+x


I was trying to create a generic ListPages template for my campaign website. This required the use of automatic management through tags. The problem came when I would have multiple tags that needed to be read from the content page.

The tags interface does not normally allow multiple word tags without the an underscore or hyphen. Neither of these is very flattering to the tag or the pages using them. Hyphens may cause some problems in particular when passing the %%tags%% variable through a template.

How to do it

You may, however, utilize an old DOS/Windows trick to achieve your ends. If you insert a non-breaking space between words instead of a breaking space, the words connected will act as a single tag. Below are instructions to do so in the following environments. Note: You cannot cut/copy and paste a non-breaking space into the editor. It must be entered manually or it will be converted into a normal space.

Windows/DOS (including Vista):

  1. Press and hold the Alt key
  2. Press and release 2
  3. Press and release 5
  4. Press and release 5
  5. Release the Alt key


  1. Press and hold the Ctrl key & Shift Key
  2. Press and release U
  3. Press and release 0
  4. Press and release 0
  5. Press and release A
  6. Press and release 0
  7. Release the Ctrl key & Shift Key


  1. Press and hold the Option (Alt) key
  2. Press the Space key

When you are done, a space will look like it has entered, but it is really a non-breaking space. This allows some very cool effects particularly with dynamic lists. This is completely supported by the ListPages module, Iftags tag, and is included in the special Live Templates variable %%tags%%.

Important Considerations

Even though this technique has some added benefit, there are practical drawbacks. This section speaks about the specific advantages, the potential dangers, and addresses the issues directly by advising how to limit the effects. Using this technique can cause some serious problems. For some types of sites, it is simply not recommended to use them. Hopefully, this section will provide you enough information as to make an educated decision about whether or not to use these tags.

Advantages of Multi-word Tags

  • If used correctly, they limit database load, as each multi-word tag is one term. It not not advantageous to have Players Handbook, Players, and Handbook. This now becomes three terms. That actually increases database load.
  • They are still search-able via queries.2 In fact, this can help your to limit your results and make them more relevant, as each word is specifically tied to the others.
  • For specific types of content, they are more easily recognizable to your users. A programmer, for instance, might look for data types, rather than data or types. This is a common term for programmers and to see it portrayed this way has a more immediate effect.
  • When applied in very specific ways, they can dramatically speed the load of your dynamic content. This is especially true for automated lists, like the ones found on my site.
  • The human brain thinks in phrases, not words. Even when scanning, a particular word is not important, but how the word is used. This applies a native context to every such term.

Potential Issues and Dangers

  • The non-breaking space is essentially invisible. This is inherently confusing for your contributors. Contributors must be directly advised, or be able to intuit which terms are multi-word, and how to use them.
  • It does not allow for quick creation, via copy and paste. That means more maintenance without the proper backbone.
  • Without the proper visual reminder or established practice, infrequently used multi-word terms can be forgotten, leading to even more problems.
  • If your contributors are not well-advised, this can lead to over-clouding. That is, too many tags that are impertinent and unnecessary. Over-clouding has many negative effects upon your site, its loading, accessibility, and organization.

Avoiding the Pitfalls :

  • If your site is highly dynamic, consider using them for "system" (site-provided) tags only. Limiting their use is a good practice, for all of the reasons above.
  • Visually cue your users by having various standard backgrounds (via CSS) for your tags, or by making all your tags links be permanently underlined. This will key people into the fact that something is different about those terms.
  • Make use of :hover for your tags. This will also help those people who won't notice your tags until they wish to use them.
  • Don't ignore your tag-cloud (if you have one). Apply similar visual techniques to it, if you can do so without ruining the look of your site and making it too gaudy.
  • Additionally use them for only common multi-word terms that are applicable only to the specific type of content your site will be providing. Doing this will help your users benefit, directly, from both the single word and multi-word tags.
  • If you have multiple contributors, your multi-word tags might confuse them. Provide a small link or help topic about the multi-word tags. This will advise your contributors as to how they can keep with your tagging practices.
  • For dynamically driven pages, like lists, consider adding a NewPage module that uses your tag. Encourage this, where ever it is pertinent. This will help to ensure that these tags are added automatically only to the content that will truly benefit from them.
  • If your site does not require membership to contribute, it might be a good idea to avoid using these whatsoever. The shear amount of contributors may be hard to manage and educate.
  • Do some tag maintenance regularly. Depending on your contributions, this could be once a month. Encourage your users to use the tags they feel are appropriate, and you decide when to combine or not.

Practical Examples

  • To see a quick example, you may visit my site. It's new and mostly infrastructure currently. Some specific tags in the tag cloud are multi-word (see feat list, fighter bonus feat, etc).
  • If you go to this link: list, take note of the content. It is all dynamically driven by the title of the list.

More to come…

Related articles


Add a New Comment
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 License.