Custom categories are a great feature you should be using in your TpT store. They allow you to help buyers find what they are looking for more quickly.
A few days ago I wanted to tweak the name of one of my custom categories to fit a new range of products I am creating. I went into my product listing, clicked on the manage categories box and typed in the new name.
When I saved it I was horrified to notice that ALL of my custom categories had suddenly disappeared!
I wondered if it might just be a glitch on the system so waited a few hours and checked again but they were still missing. I saw a few other people were having the same problem in a few forums I belong to so knew it wasn’t just my store that had been affected.
As I always do when something like this happens I assumed it must be an update so rather than complain and get myself het up and bothered, I waited to see if the solution would get rectified by Teachers Pay Teachers, if it was indeed a temporary error.
However, after a few days it still wasn’t solved so I delved a bit further.
Chatting to the TpT Bot I got this… “Emojis are not supported in Custom Categories, so although some Sellers use them, we advise against it since they can cause issues such as custom categories appearing blank on your store.”
Ah-ha! That must be what is causing the problem in my store.
We used to be able to add some HTML code to the beginning of our custom categories to add symbols (emojis) that helps us group them together. If we didn’t do that they would appear in alphabetical order which is not always the order we want our categories to appear in.
This what my TpT custom categories used to look like…
As you can see I used the tick and star emojis at the beginning of the custom category name, so I could get the most important ones highlighted at the top. Not any more.
Teachers Pay Teachers has decided that they don’t want us to do this and although it seems it will not cause a problem straight away if you have already got them, once you go to edit your categories then they will all appear blank unless you remove them.
That is exactly what happened to me.
My categories looked fine and then the moment I went to change one (without knowing about the update) they all disappeared.
What can you do about it?
Well, after a frustrating couple of hours I worked out what I think is a good solution.
When you are typing in the names, you can’t include any of the HTML codes we used to use. So no emojis in any categories. Even if you are not updating those particular categories.
However, you can number your categories as I have done below to show the categories in the order I want and for the two new categories I am trying out (Bundles and Freebies) that I want to appear at the top, I'm using the hyphen to get them above the numbered categories.
You can use any symbol you can type in on your keybaord normally without having to insert any sysmbols. You could use *, ! or () but I chose the -. This is because symbols appear before numbers when computers sort an alphanumeric list.
It will mean that if I want to change the order of my main numbered list I need to re-number everything but it is better than it appearing in alphabetical order and my most important categories potentially getting lost.
So now my custom categories in my TpT store looks as follows…
I, personally, think the emojis looked better but TpT have made the update for their own reasons and using emojis may have been causing them problems further down the line. Who knows?
But this is the system we have now so I hope this post helps those who are experiencing the same problems and at least this means you can get your categories back and in the order you want.
I have also updated the training video in the “Setting Up your TpT Store” course available on the Teaching Resource Creators membership site to reflect this change. Here it is and in it I explain how to set up your own custom categories without emojis.