How does the team choose categories? Executive producer Mike Richards said that each game balances four key areas: academic knowledge, lifestyles, pop culture, and word play. The categories must "provide maximum interest to the audience and maximum fairness to the contestants," Richards added.
Does the team rotate certain categories in and out regularly? Nope. But Richards reveals that they ease off frequently-covered topics, sharing:
We have a pretty good nose for 'We've gone heavy on Shakespeare lately.'
The show's eight full-time writers pen the clues, but none of them specialize in a particular topic. Co-head writer Billy Wisse noted:
Though we all have our favorites, each writer covers every topic.
Co-head writer Michele Loud went on:
A writer learns an interesting fact that makes for a great clue and writes a category around it. Or they think of a clever/funny category title.
From there, here's how it goes:
She or Wisse will approve a writer's work, order the clues from easiest to most difficult and assign the category to a round (Jeopardy! or Double Jeopardy!).
And host Alex Trebek weighs in. Loud noted that he "is very knowledgeable, so he may question a fact or two."