What Are WordPress Shortcodes and How To Use Them?

WordPress shortcodes were introduced in version 2.5 and since then have proved to be one of the most useful features. The average user acting as editor has the ability to publish dynamic content using macros, without the need for programming skills.

What are WordPress shortcodes?

WordPress shortcodes are special tags that allow users to quickly and easily pull bits of predefined functionality into their content. Let’s say you’ve got a theme (or plugin) that allows you to insert a bunch of things into your posts or pages , like tool tips, column layouts, galleries, buttons, pull-quotes, block-quotes, social media buttons, etc, … the way you’d go about inserting such bits of predefined functionality is by writing a shortcode, or by using some kind of graphical interface to automatically generate a specific shortcode for you.

What can you do with shortcodes?

A shortcode will let you access whatever kind of functionality whoever created the shortcode defined it to have, which could be from something as simple as inserting an icon or changing the color of some text, to inserting an gallery of images that slide across the page looking absolutely fabulous!

How to use shortcodes on your WordPress website?

To start, let’s take a quick look at the shortcodes that are incorporated into the platform by default:

Audio: Embeds audio files and enables playback.

Caption: Lets you wrap captions around content.

Embed: Makes it possible to set maximum dimensions for an embedded item (such as an image or social media post).

Gallery: Adds a customizable image gallery to your site.

Playlist: Creates an audio or video playlist.

Video: Places a video file that can be played back.

Like any shortcode, these can be simply copied and pasted directly into your site. Generally, they’re placed into a post or page. However, they can go in any location where you can add code through the WordPress editor, such as a custom post type or a text widget.

You can place a shortcode using either the Visual or Text editor.

How to Get WordPress Shortcodes

Shortcodes can also come along with some WordPress themes. For example, a photo gallery WordPress theme might have a gallery shortcode for managing the theme’s image content.

But if those aren’t enough, it is possible to get many more specialized shortcodes by way of a number of free WordPress shortcodes plugin options, such as Shortcodes Unlimited, which includes 50 or more shortcodes for adding features of all kinds, such as carousels, headers, and sliders.

Creating Custom Shortcodes

Although anyone can use shortcodes without having any web design or coding skills, experienced developers can also modify shortcodes for more customization. Shortcodes are available to the entire WordPress community for customizing and updating.

Developers can also create their own custom shortcodes from scratch. Because WordPress is an open-source software that anyone can edit or modify, users can create them for specific uses or make them available to the whole WordPress community.  

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