Create a WordPress Shortcode in 5 Easy Steps

Learning how to use shortcodes changed the game for me as a WordPress Developer. I learned that I could inject whatever HTML, CSS, and JavaScript I wanted into whatever part of whatever page or post I chose in my WordPress website.

What is a “Shortcode”?

Shortcodes in WordPress are small code snippets that enable you to embed content, media, or other functionality into your posts and pages without requiring advanced technical knowledge. You can read more about what a shortcode is from WordPress’s own documentation on their website.

Why Should You Use Shortcodes in WordPress?

Some good reasons to use shortcodes in WordPress include:

Reusability

Shortcodes are reusable, which means you can use them multiple times across your website. This can save you time and effort when you want to embed content or add functionality to multiple posts or pages.

Consistency

Shortcodes allow you to maintain consistency in the look and feel of your website. By using a shortcode to embed content, you can ensure that it will be displayed the same way across your website, regardless of where it is used.

Customizability

Shortcodes enable you to customize the appearance and behavior of your content. You can add parameters to the shortcode to adjust the size, color, and other properties of the content you are embedding.

Flexibility

Shortcodes can be used to embed a wide range of content types, including videos, audio files, forms, and more. This gives you greater flexibility when it comes to adding functionality to your website.

Ease of Use

Shortcodes are easy to use, even if you don’t have advanced technical knowledge. You can simply copy and paste the shortcode into your post or page, and the content or functionality will be automatically embedded.

Overall, shortcodes can be a powerful tool for adding functionality and customizing the appearance of your WordPress website, while also making it easier to manage and maintain.

How To Create A Shortcode In WordPress

Creating a shortcode in WordPress is a fairly simple process. Here are the basic steps:

Open your functions.php file

You can find this file by logging into your WordPress dashboard, navigating to Appearance > Theme Editor, and selecting the functions.php file from the list on the right-hand side.

*Since you will be making changes to your theme’s core file, it’s wise to create a child theme before making these major customization changes. Not practicing caution here could lead to your site experiencing a critical error. Without backups, this could mean starting your work from scratch. Click here to read my article on how to quickly and easily set up your own WordPress child theme.*

Create a new function

In the functions.php file, create a new PHP function using the following syntax:

function my_shortcode_function() { // Your shortcode code goes here }

Replace “my_shortcode_function” with a unique name for your shortcode function, and add your shortcode code between the curly braces.

Define the shortcode

To define the shortcode, you need to use the add_shortcode function. Here’s the syntax:

add_shortcode( 'my_shortcode', 'my_shortcode_function' );

Replace “my_shortcode” with the name of your shortcode (without the brackets), and “my_shortcode_function” with the name of the function you created in step 2.

Save Your Changes!

Once you’ve added your shortcode function and defined the shortcode, save your changes to the functions.php file. Here’s what the finished functions.php file should look like, including enqueueing scripts and stylesheets you might want to use for your new HTML Shortcode:

Functions file for WP shortcode

Use Your Shortcode

You can now use the shortcode in your posts and pages by adding the shortcode name (in brackets) to the content where you want it to appear. For example, if your shortcode is named “my_shortcode”, you would add [my_shortcode] to your content. If you wanted to use shortcodes in a more complex manner, such as by passing dynamic parameters to WordPress shortcodes, I highly encourage you to visit the codex documentation on WordPress’s own website.

That’s it! Your shortcode should now be available for use on your WordPress website. If you have any questions on how to implement a shortcode yourself, don’t hesitate to reach out to me! I’m always happy to help folks online improve their coding and web development skills.

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Gil Joseph Klein is a web developer and software engineer with over 13 years of experience building websites, developing application user interfaces, and using data science in business analysis. He is also a film score composer with credits on IMDB and is passionate about music.