Defining categories that work items can be filed against

Categories identify the various components or functional areas of your project. Each category is associated with a team area that includes members who are responsible for developing that component. The categories that you define are displayed as choices in the Filed Against field in the work item editor.

About this task

When you create a work item, you set its category attribute. The options that are available to you in the category field in a context are determined by the categories and associations that are defined for that context.


  1. In the Team Artifacts view of the Work Items perspective, right-click the project area, select Open, and click the Work Item Categories tab.
  2. To create a new category, complete the next steps.
    1. To create a category at the Root Category level, click Add Category. To create a category under an existing category, select the existing category before you click Add Category.
      The Add New Category dialog box opens.
    2. Enter a name for the category and click OK.
    The new category is displayed in the table of categories and associated team areas. By default, the new category is associated with the team area that is associated with the top-level category.
    Note: Some project area process templates specify initialization steps that create categories when you create a project area. When you create team areas, do not associate them with these default project area-level categories. Instead, associate the team areas with new categories that you define. Associating a team area with one of the project area-level categories prevents you from querying for work items that are assigned to your team area. Querying for work items associated with a project area-level category returns all work items in the project area.
  3. To associate a category with a team area, complete the next steps.
    1. Optional: Select a timeline from the Timeline list at the top of the page.
      The default timeline is <any>, meaning that the association applies to all timelines. If your process includes multiple timelines, you can specify a different association for each timeline. When a user creates a work item, it is assigned to a team area based on its category and the timeline of its Planned For iteration.
    2. Select the category.
    3. Select the team area to associate the category with. Then, click Associate.
    If you specified different associations that are based on different timelines, then in the table of categories and associated team areas, the associations change when you select different timelines in the Timeline menu. The process that is defined for the associated team area is the process that users follow for processing the work item.
  4. Optional: To limit visibility of a category to members of the team that is associated with the category, click the corresponding check box in the Visibility column so that it is empty.
    By default, categories are visible to all users. A checked check box indicates that a category, and all of its child categories, are visible to all users. A filled check box indicates that the parent category has a mixture of visible and restricted child categories.

    When you limit visibility of a category, only members of the associated project or team area can see the category in the category list when they are assigning work items.

  5. Optional: To limit read and write access to work items that are associated with this category, right-click the corresponding category; then, click Restrict Work Items Access to only Members of this Team.
    When you limit work item access for a category, only members of the associated project or team area can view and modify work items that are assigned to that category.
  6. Optional: To set a category as the default for new items that are created in plans that are owned by the corresponding team or project area, right-click the category; then, click Toggle Use As Default.
    When new items are created in plans, the Filed Against value defaults to this category.
  7. To remove an old category from the table, select it, then click Archive. To view archived categories, click Show Archived. Archived categories appear dimmed. To restore an archived category, right-click it and select Unarchive.
  8. You can move a category from one spot in the hierarchy to another by dragging and dropping it.
  9. Click Save to save your work item category changes.