What are Shortcodes in WordPress & Why You Should Use Them

Shortcodes in WordPress is one of the coolest options or feature that I love so much to use. These shortcodes allow me to do so many things without touching any code. So here I am sharing my experiences and knowledge about WordPress shortcodes. Let’s dive into this.

Shortcode in WordPress is a piece of code that allows you to interact with the content and perform something dynamically. A Shortcode contains the set of instructions that executes dynamically to perform a specific task within the content or anywhere in the site. Shortcodes were introduced in WordPress version 2.5.

Shortcode can be used within the posts, pages, widgets, or anywhere in the template files. They provide the flexibility and ease of doing things to the users.

A Typical shortcode looks like this:- Surrounded by square brackets with shortcode name.


Shortcode can also be used by passing additional information in it as attributes.

[myshortcode  id="23"  size="small" column="3" ]

Types of Shortcodes

WordPress has two types of Shortcodes:

  1. Self-Closed Shortcode
  2. Enclosed Shortcode

Both of these shortcode types can have attributes and can pass the value in it.

Self-Closed Shortcode

Shortcode, that closes automatically and doesn’t have any end tag or closing tag, called Self-Closed Shortcode.


Enclosed Shortcode

Shortcode, that has a start tag and an end tag just like any other HTML tag, called Enclosed Shortcode.

[myshortcode] Some Text….. [/myshortcode]

What are shortcodes used for in WordPress?

Mostly, Shortcodes are used by the theme and plugin developers to create something and make it easy for the users.

Let’s understand this by examples:

Case #1 – Developers View

Suppose, As a Developer, I am creating a WordPress theme or maybe a plugin which has the option to showcase portfolio with different layouts.

Now, If I code this functionality in a theme within a specific template or file without creating its shortcode this will work fine without any issue.

But not every user can use and take benefit of it, because not everyone wants to use this with the same layout or maybe at the same location in their site. So, the shortcodes are used to overcome these things.

In cases like this, I will prefer to create a shortcode for the functionalities or features instead of adding them directly into the theme or any specific file.

And by using that shortcode, every user can easily use the given functionality or feature into their website, wherever that want without touching any line of code.

Case #2 – Users View

Let’s assume, I am a non-technical guy and have zero programming knowledge. I have a website and would like to add contact form in it.

So in this case, I can simply go for the Contact Form 7 Plugin or any other plugins that provide the forms.

Because these plugins provide shortcodes to use their functionality, so I can easily add a contact form or any other form by just adding their shortcode into my website without any technical or programming skills.

That’s why shortcodes play an important role in theme and plugin development, so everyone can use them efficiently.

Does WordPress come with Shortcodes?.

Yes, WordPress comes with some built-in shortcodes. You can simply use these shortcodes on your website.

Following are the shortcodes those comes with default WordPress installation.

  • [gallery]
  • [audio]
  • [video]
  • [caption]
  • [playlist]

Is there anything wrong with using WordPress shortcodes?

Absolutely not..! There is nothing wrong with using shortcodes.

Although you should keep in mind one thing, if you use shortcodes that come with themes or plugins, they will stop working on changing the theme or deactivating the plugin.

Where are the shortcodes defined in WordPress?

Shortcodes in WordPress are generally defined either within a separate file or within functions.php file.

For Themes:- If you are creating shortcodes for a theme then you can create your custom shortcodes either within functions.php file or within a separate file and then include it into the functions.php file to execute.

For Plugins:- If you are creating a shortcode for the plugin, you can create shortcodes within a separate file and include it in any file that is loaded when the plugin is activated.

Can we create custom shortcodes in WordPress?

Absolutely Yes!. You can create your own custom shortcodes in WordPress as per your needs.

WordPress provides a shortcode API, Shortcodes API is a kind of library that contains so many inbuilt functions that is used to create shortcodes in WordPress.

Shortcodes API allows WordPress developers to create shortcodes for their themes and plugins.

I hope this article helps you to understand, what is shortcode in WordPress and why you should use them.

Owner of diveinwp.com, solely responsible for creating helpful, informative content about WordPress, a fulltime WordPress developer with 8+ years of hands-on experience in WordPress design and development.