WordPress 101: Shortcodes

Shortcodes are a WordPress user’s best friend. They are simple codes used to perform more complex functions. The most frequent use of shortcodes is to embed media from a number of sources. If you’ve ever copy/pasted an embed code from YouTube, you’ll understand. Instead of 20 lines of code making absolutely no sense, you have a simple one line shortcode with a few simple options.

Both WordPress.com and self-hosted WordPress users can enjoy the simplicity of shortcodes. WordPress.com users have a number of shortcodes built into the platform. Self-hosted bloggers can include these shortcodes on your site by installing the Jetpack plugin. In addition, there are a growing number of shortcode plugins available via WordPress.org and many of the newer themes include shortcodes in their themes. One very good example is the Elegant Themes collection. [Disclaimer: Both my Moultrie Creek Books and Moultrie Journal sites are using themes from Elegant Themes.]

Shortcodes make embedding video (from YouTube, Vimeo, Flickr, Blip, Daily Motion and more), audio (from sound cloud, rdio, spotify and more), documents (from Scribd, Slideshare, Google Docs, MS Office Live and more) along with forms, polls and other goodies. For a complete list of the standard shortcodes available at WordPress.com and through Jetpack, visit the Shortcode support page.

Some media platforms – like Scribd shown below – will build your shortcode for you as one of their embed options. Most state that this is for WordPress.com sites only, but if you have Jetpack installed on your self-hosted site, it will work just fine for you too. Notice that the shortcode includes options like the display mode.

Here’s what the shortcode looks like once you’ve pasted it into a post.

You will only see the shortcode in your post editor. You won’t see the embedded media – from whatever platform – until you save and preview the post.

Although this is just a short introduction to shortcodes, future posts will look at specific shortcodes in detail to demonstrate how you can put them to use in your WordPress blog. While the media shortcodes will make your blogging a whole lot easier, they are just the beginning. There’s lots more blogging goodness to be found in shortcodes.

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