Wordpress & Web Development

Add 40+ New Layout Features To WordPress with Shortcodes Ultimate

Christian Cawley 06-02-2014

Add pull-quotes, spoiler warnings, column layouts and much more to WordPress. Shortcodes Ultimate makes it easy.


WordPress-powered blogs can be enhanced by all manner of plugins, many of which introduce new features. Installing and updating additional features can be time-consuming, however – which is where a plugin like Shortcodes Ultimate comes in.

What Are Shortcodes & What Makes Them Ultimate?

Shortcodes are small snippets of text that you can introduce into a blog post, page or PHP file to add new features. These features will be coded into a separate file that you don’t need to access – all you need to do is use the format [shortcode] to add the visual enhancement, embedded media or layout change to your blog.

Shortcodes Ultimate is particularly good. It offers over 40 useful shortcodes – many with conditions that can be used to tailor their use – that cover everything from adding spoiler tags and other accordion-like hidden areas to animations, buttons, icons and even formatting your pages and posts into columns.

Wielding the power of CSS3, Shortcodes Ultimate also provides you with a useful button for adding shortcodes in the post/page editing screen. Available free, the plugin offers a premium upgrade for $25 which offers an additional 15 shortcodes (including a content slider and a splash screen), 60 new skins and a shortcode creator. These can also be purchased separately as Add-ons.



To see a full list of options available with this powerful plugin, use the Shortcodes > Examples page.

How To Install Shortcodes Ultimate

As with any WordPress plugin, Shortcodes Ultimate can be easily installed via Plugins > Add new. Search for the plugin, and follow the instructions to install it. You can also download Shortcodes Ultimate free from the WordPress Plugin Directory and install it through your FTP application.

We recommend that, if you are installing plugins, you first make a backup of your WordPress site’s theme and database. You might do this through your web host’s CPanel or similar software, or by employing a plugin such as Updraft How To Backup & Restore Your WordPress Site Easily With UpdraftPlus Read More .=

Adding A Shortcode: Pullquotes, Columns And Embeds

With over 40 shortcodes offered by the plugin, you might find yourself overwhelmed by options. The versatility of the plugin can radically enhance your blog, however. The following examples should help illustrate.



  1. Pullquotes: If you want to enhance the layout of your blog by focussing on the content, you might choose to use blocks of text that are left or right aligned to draw attention to particular sections of the post. These are pullquotes and can be invoked with Shortcodes Ultimate using the [pullquote align=”left|right”][/pullquote] tags.
  2. Columns: You can introduce a variety of column-based layouts to your WordPress posts and pages with Shortcodes Ultimate. For instance, you can use [column size=”1/2″]Content Column 1[/column] [column size=”1/2″]Content Column 2[/column] to create a page with two equal-width columns. There are many varieties, such as a page split into three equal-width columns, or one with a half-page column and two quarter-page columns. You can even combine column layouts by wrapping the [column][/column] shortcodes with [row] and [/row] (There are many ways in which shortcodes can be combined, creating stunning effects).
  3. Third party and self-hosted content can also be added with a shortcode. While you probably won’t bother with YouTube (pasting a URL into a blog post is simpler than [youtube url=”http://youtube.com/watch?v=CODESTRING”], after all) self-hosted clips can be added with . Advanced options can be introduced for YouTube, such as the removal of the player controls, and autoplay.

If you need to adjust the CSS for a pullquote, quote or shortcode, use the Shortcodes > Custom CSS tab to add your own code. Stuck with or intimidated by CSS? We have several guides on MakeUseOf dealing with this subject, and a good place to start is James’ 5 Baby Steps To Learning CSS 5 Baby Steps to Learning CSS and Becoming a Kick-Ass CSS Sorcerer CSS is the single most important change webpages have seen in the last decade, and it paved the way for the separation of style and content. In the modern way, XHTML defines the semantic structure... Read More .

Potential Problems: Updates & Conflicts

Having used Shortcodes Ultimate for several months, I’ve become aware of a couple of issues that might cause problems. Although relatively easy to fix, these are things that might cause you to choose a different shortcodes solution. Given the raft of features in Shortcodes Ultimate, it would be a shame if you let these problems affect you. So don’t!



First of all, and most common, is the loss of shortcodes when you update the plugin. Recently, the developers of Shortcodes Ultimate have introduced an update that changes the shortcode format from [shortcode] to [su_shortcode], and there is every chance that they might do this again in future.

Fortunately, you can change the format of your shortcode by opening Shortcodes > Settings in the WordPress admin page, and change or clear the entry in the Shortcodes prefix field.

You may also find that Shortcodes Ultimate prevents your blog from opening after install. If this happens, it will probably because your current theme is already hardcoded to run a shortcode that conflicts with those on offer in Shortcodes Ultimate. You can troubleshoot this by switching to the WordPress default theme – checking with the developer of the theme should offer a long term solution.


I discovered Shortcodes Ultimate while looking for a good option to cover up spoilers on my TV themed website. The wealth of options on offer at first seemed like overkill, but over time I’ve used more and more of the layout enhancement offered by Shortcodes Ultimate, and would certainly recommend it to any WordPress blog owner.


Easy to install and simple to use, Shortcodes Ultimate is among the upper echelon of WordPress plugins. Quite simply, everyone should have a copy, which is why we include it the MakeUseOf Best of WordPress Plugins The Best WordPress Plugins Read More list.

Related topics: Wordpress, Wordpress Plugins.

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  1. martin
    March 21, 2015 at 8:02 pm

    hello many many thanks for he great article - keep on the great work

    • Christian Cawley
      March 22, 2015 at 6:23 pm

      Glad you found it useful!

  2. EL
    February 6, 2014 at 9:17 pm

    Just upgraded to their newest version (skipping a few), and it totally messed up my site, changing how lots of things were set up. I would have had to do some intense surgery on my CSS files to get back to normal. Instead I just downgraded back to what I was using.
    Oh well.

    • Geoffrey Gordon
      February 13, 2014 at 6:16 am

      I use this plugin quite extensively, it's not hard to fix the changes made by the upgrade "EL". normally it just a matter of removing the prefix su_ under the settings page.

    • ELe
      February 16, 2014 at 6:35 am

      So I found that answer about removing the su_, and that made my pages actually display decently. But the person who originally made the site added a lot of custom CSS which relied on the different column classes, and since the update they changed the whole structure of the classes. I tried to update the css, but it ended up being very very involved so eventually i just gave up.