A shortcode is a WordPress.com feature that makes it easy to pull content from your blog as well as outside sources into a page or post. For example, you can copy/paste the embed code to display a YouTube video or you could pull it into a post with a simple shortcode like the one you see below.
Want to display some of your older posts at the bottom of an existing one? You can use shortcodes to display content from a specific category, author or tag. This example shows a list Gazette posts from the Blog Bytes category.
display-posts category="Blog Bytes" posts_per_page="5"]
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How about including a Google Map in a post, an online calendar, photos from Instagram or a slideshow from Slideshow? You can do this and much more. There’s even a shortcode to make formatting a recipe much easier.
You’ll find details on all the common WordPress shortcodes at WordPress.com’s Shortcode Support page. For self-hosted WordPress users, you will also discover that a number of plugins include their own shortcodes. Visit the developer’s support page for information on using them. Spend some time browsing shortcodes and see if they don’t make customizing your blog a lot easier.