A bit of PHP to preserve html formatting in standard WordPress excerpts

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Reason for needing the Code Snippet

If you don’t use the Excerpt field in your posts and rely on WordPress to grab the first few dozen words of your post content what you usually find is the excerpt when displayed on the front end (usually in some sort of archive or post grid display) will have most of the html tags removed leaving you with a single block of plain text.

If I go to the bother of formatting my post content to make it more interesting and easier to read and understand I’d like that formatting to be preserved even in that post’s excerpt.

(This post was viewed 2,605 times) in the last month.)

What the Code Snippet does

This bit of php code, put in your functions.php file does the trick. It's well commented so you know what it's doing and is pretty easy to tweak. This gives you nicely formatted content in your post excerpts and RSS feeds too.

The html tags I've chosen to include in excerpts are:

What the page looks like Before and After

Here's the Code Snippet

* allow formatted text in excerpts
function better_trim_excerpt($text)
$raw_excerpt = $text;
if ( '' == $text ) {
$text = get_the_content('');
$text = strip_shortcodes( $text );
$text = apply_filters('the_content', $text);
$text = str_replace(']]>', ']]&gt;', $text);

// Removes any JavaScript in posts (between <script> and </script> tags)
$text = preg_replace('@<script[^>]*?>.*?</script>@si', '', $text);

// Enable formatting in excerpts - Add HTML tags that you want to be parsed in excerpts, default is 55
$text = strip_tags($text, '<strong><b><em><i><a><code><kbd><p><br><ul><ol><li><img>');

// Set custom excerpt length - number of words to be shown in excerpts
$excerpt_length = apply_filters('excerpt_length', 60);

// Modify excerpt more string at the end from [...] to ...
// $excerpt_more = apply_filters('excerpt_more', ' ' . '...');

$words = preg_split("/[\n\r\t ]+/", $text, $excerpt_length + 1, PREG_SPLIT_NO_EMPTY);
if ( count($words) > $excerpt_length ) {
$text = implode(' ', $words);

// IMPORTANT! Prevents tags cutoff by excerpt (i.e. unclosed tags) from breaking formatting
$text = force_balance_tags( $text );

$text = $text . $excerpt_more;
} else {
$text = implode(' ', $words);
return apply_filters('wp_trim_excerpt', $text, $raw_excerpt);

// Remove the native excerpt function, and replace it with our improved function
remove_filter('get_the_excerpt', 'wp_trim_excerpt');
add_filter('get_the_excerpt', 'better_trim_excerpt');

I found this code at the bottom of this page: wordpress.stackexchange.com

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Pieter Hartsook

WordPress website coaching, design, implementation, support, and training. Background in Marketing Research and Communications. See my profile at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/hartsook/

Reader Interactions


  1. I think that depends on where the Read More link is supposed to appear, and what underlying framework you’re using to display the excerpt. I use Beaver Builder for most of my projects and using this code snippet I still see the Read More link on post archive (query loop) pages.

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