How to Truncate a string in PHP to the word closest to a certain number of characters?


Question

I have a code snippet written in PHP that pulls a block of text from a database and sends it out to a widget on a webpage. The original block of text can be a lengthy article or a short sentence or two; but for this widget I can't display more than, say, 200 characters. I could use substr() to chop off the text at 200 chars, but the result would be cutting off in the middle of words-- what I really want is to chop the text at the end of the last word before 200 chars.

1
173
9/17/2008 4:24:04 AM

Accepted Answer

By using the wordwrap function. It splits the texts in multiple lines such that the maximum width is the one you specified, breaking at word boundaries. After splitting, you simply take the first line:

substr($string, 0, strpos(wordwrap($string, $your_desired_width), "\n"));

One thing this oneliner doesn't handle is the case when the text itself is shorter than the desired width. To handle this edge-case, one should do something like:

if (strlen($string) > $your_desired_width) 
{
    $string = wordwrap($string, $your_desired_width);
    $string = substr($string, 0, strpos($string, "\n"));
}

The above solution has the problem of prematurely cutting the text if it contains a newline before the actual cutpoint. Here a version which solves this problem:

function tokenTruncate($string, $your_desired_width) {
  $parts = preg_split('/([\s\n\r]+)/', $string, null, PREG_SPLIT_DELIM_CAPTURE);
  $parts_count = count($parts);

  $length = 0;
  $last_part = 0;
  for (; $last_part < $parts_count; ++$last_part) {
    $length += strlen($parts[$last_part]);
    if ($length > $your_desired_width) { break; }
  }

  return implode(array_slice($parts, 0, $last_part));
}

Also, here is the PHPUnit testclass used to test the implementation:

class TokenTruncateTest extends PHPUnit_Framework_TestCase {
  public function testBasic() {
    $this->assertEquals("1 3 5 7 9 ",
      tokenTruncate("1 3 5 7 9 11 14", 10));
  }

  public function testEmptyString() {
    $this->assertEquals("",
      tokenTruncate("", 10));
  }

  public function testShortString() {
    $this->assertEquals("1 3",
      tokenTruncate("1 3", 10));
  }

  public function testStringTooLong() {
    $this->assertEquals("",
      tokenTruncate("toooooooooooolooooong", 10));
  }

  public function testContainingNewline() {
    $this->assertEquals("1 3\n5 7 9 ",
      tokenTruncate("1 3\n5 7 9 11 14", 10));
  }
}

EDIT :

Special UTF8 characters like 'à' are not handled. Add 'u' at the end of the REGEX to handle it:

$parts = preg_split('/([\s\n\r]+)/u', $string, null, PREG_SPLIT_DELIM_CAPTURE);

214
9/9/2015 8:32:10 PM

This will return the first 200 characters of words:

preg_replace('/\s+?(\S+)?$/', '', substr($string, 0, 201));

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