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This is a HelpThing page

HelpThing was written by members like you, with some help from LibraryThing staff.

View a list of all of the HelpThing topics.

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What are tags?

Tags are a simple way to categorize books according to how you think of them, not how some official librarian does. Tags are an informal organization system created on the individual level - but on the global level they become powerful search and discovery tools.

There is no wrong way to use tags. One person may tag The DaVinci Code with the tags 'novel', 'mystery', and 'Christianity', while another tags it 'read2011' and 'conspiracy' and still another tags it '@summerhome.'

Tags are particularly useful for sorting and searching by those concepts. They make it easy to see a list of all your novels or all the books at the summer home.

At the site-wide level, tags are also useful in other ways. On the work pages, you can see at a glance what other members think a book is about. Is it tagged 'Horror' or 'Romance'? On the tag page, you can see the books LibraryThing members have most commonly assigned a particular tag to. It's a great way to discover new books about zombies or pirates or Van Gogh. You can even 'mash' tags together using search in order to find books on zombie pirates using Tagmash.

Main Tag Page

The tag page shows you the books which are most commonly given the tag in question, while also providing you with some details about members who use that tag, tags that may be related, what tags have been combined with this tag, and more.

At the very top of the page, you can also see the total number of times a tag has been used, as well as how many members have used the tag at least once. This number includes private members.

Viewing Books

You can view the books in list, shelf, or cover view. Toggle the view you see and scroll through the pages via the light blue menu which appears in the upper right when you hover over the books.

Books appear in descending order - that is, books which have been given the tag most often will appear first. The number of times a book has been tagged appears either below or to the right of the book or book title. You may also see colored checkmarks, indicating that you have added the book to one of your collections.

  • Bookshelf View - By default, you will see the shelf view, which presents you with book covers on a virtual shelf. Hovering over the book shows the book's title.
  • Title View - Title view will give you a text-only list of the books a tag has been assigned to.
  • Cover View - Similar to the bookshelf view, cover view will show you the covers and give you the book title if you hover over it.

Using the Tag

Shows you the twenty or so users who assign the tag most frequently, along with how many times they have used the tag. Also shows how many members total have used the tag at least once. This number does not include private members. There is no way to see an expanded list of tag-users. Clicking the number after the username will take you to a list of all their cataloged books with the tag.

Recently Tagged

This feature, called TagWatch, formerly showed a list of works which had recently been assigned the tag. It was discontinued due to server processing issues and may or may not return in the future.

Google Books Ngram Viewer

Right Column

  • Your Tags - Takes you to a page listing all tags you have used in Your Books, listed both by frequency and in alphabetical order.
  • Tag Cloud - Takes you to a site-wide tag cloud where the size and weight of the font indicates the tags which are most commonly used across LibraryThing.
  • Search - Search for tag pages. Enter two tags separated by a comma to create a tagmash.
  • Related Tags - Shows a tag cloud of tags which are commonly assigned to books which are also given the tag in question. For example, books tagged 'humor' are also often tagged 'comedy'.
  • Related Subjects - Shows Library of Congress Subject Headings which are commonly given to books tagged with the tag in question.
  • Related Tagmashes - Shows common tagmashes related to the tag in question.
  • Combine Tags - Gives guidelines and shows proposals for Tag Combination.

Tag Combination


Tags are combined in order to make them more useful. In the example above, the tags 'WWII', 'wwii', 'World War II', 'World War Two,' and many more have all been combined so that the tag page lists all books which members have tagged with any of those terms.

You can see which tags are combined into each other at the top of the tag page, where it lists tags the page 'includes'. Clicking on each included tag will take you to a subpage so that you can see which books are tagged with exactly which tag.

Tags are combined and separated via a voting system. For guidelines on combining or separating tags, please see Tag combining. The Combiners Group is happy to help and spends a lot of time discussion tag combination and separation.

Further Reading on Tags

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