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(PHP 4, PHP 5)

htmlspecialcharsConvert special characters to HTML entities


string htmlspecialchars ( string $string [, int $flags = ENT_COMPAT | ENT_HTML401 [, string $encoding = 'UTF-8' [, bool $double_encode = true ]]] )

Certain characters have special significance in HTML, and should be represented by HTML entities if they are to preserve their meanings. This function returns a string with these conversions made. If you require all input substrings that have associated named entities to be translated, use htmlentities() instead.

If the input string passed to this function and the final document share the same character set, this function is sufficient to prepare input for inclusion in most contexts of an HTML document. If, however, the input can represent characters that are not coded in the final document character set and you wish to retain those characters (as numeric or named entities), both this function and htmlentities() (which only encodes substrings that have named entity equivalents) may be insufficient. You may have to use mb_encode_numericentity() instead.

The translations performed are:

  • '&' (ampersand) becomes '&'
  • '"' (double quote) becomes '"' when ENT_NOQUOTES is not set.
  • "'" (single quote) becomes ''' (or ') only when ENT_QUOTES is set.
  • '<' (less than) becomes '&lt;'
  • '>' (greater than) becomes '&gt;'



The string being converted.


A bitmask of one or more of the following flags, which specify how to handle quotes, invalid code unit sequences and the used document type. The default is ENT_COMPAT | ENT_HTML401.

Available flags constants
Constant Name Description
ENT_COMPAT Will convert double-quotes and leave single-quotes alone.
ENT_QUOTES Will convert both double and single quotes.
ENT_NOQUOTES Will leave both double and single quotes unconverted.
ENT_IGNORE Silently discard invalid code unit sequences instead of returning an empty string. Using this flag is discouraged as it » may have security implications.
ENT_SUBSTITUTE Replace invalid code unit sequences with a Unicode Replacement Character U+FFFD (UTF-8) or &#FFFD; (otherwise) instead of returning an empty string.
ENT_DISALLOWED Replace invalid code points for the given document type with a Unicode Replacement Character U+FFFD (UTF-8) or &#FFFD; (otherwise) instead of leaving them as is. This may be useful, for instance, to ensure the well-formedness of XML documents with embedded external content.
ENT_HTML401 Handle code as HTML 4.01.
ENT_XML1 Handle code as XML 1.
ENT_XHTML Handle code as XHTML.
ENT_HTML5 Handle code as HTML 5.


Defines encoding used in conversion. If omitted, the default value for this argument is ISO-8859-1 in versions of PHP prior to 5.4.0, and UTF-8 from PHP 5.4.0 onwards.

For the purposes of this function, the encodings ISO-8859-1, ISO-8859-15, UTF-8, cp866, cp1251, cp1252, and KOI8-R are effectively equivalent, provided the string itself is valid for the encoding, as the characters affected by htmlspecialchars() occupy the same positions in all of these encodings.

The following character sets are supported:

Supported charsets
Charset Aliases Description
ISO-8859-1 ISO8859-1 Western European, Latin-1.
ISO-8859-5 ISO8859-5 Little used cyrillic charset (Latin/Cyrillic).
ISO-8859-15 ISO8859-15 Western European, Latin-9. Adds the Euro sign, French and Finnish letters missing in Latin-1 (ISO-8859-1).
UTF-8   ASCII compatible multi-byte 8-bit Unicode.
cp866 ibm866, 866 DOS-specific Cyrillic charset.
cp1251 Windows-1251, win-1251, 1251 Windows-specific Cyrillic charset.
cp1252 Windows-1252, 1252 Windows specific charset for Western European.
KOI8-R koi8-ru, koi8r Russian.
BIG5 950 Traditional Chinese, mainly used in Taiwan.
GB2312 936 Simplified Chinese, national standard character set.
BIG5-HKSCS   Big5 with Hong Kong extensions, Traditional Chinese.
Shift_JIS SJIS, SJIS-win, cp932, 932 Japanese
EUC-JP EUCJP, eucJP-win Japanese
MacRoman   Charset that was used by Mac OS.
''   An empty string activates detection from script encoding (Zend multibyte), default_charset and current locale (see nl_langinfo() and setlocale()), in this order. Not recommended.

Note: Any other character sets are not recognized. The default encoding will be used instead and a warning will be emitted.


When double_encode is turned off PHP will not encode existing html entities, the default is to convert everything.

Return Values

The converted string.

If the input string contains an invalid code unit sequence within the given encoding an empty string will be returned, unless either the ENT_IGNORE or ENT_SUBSTITUTE flags are set.


Version Description
5.4.0 The default value for the encoding parameter was changed to UTF-8.
5.4.0 The constants ENT_SUBSTITUTE, ENT_DISALLOWED, ENT_HTML401, ENT_XML1, ENT_XHTML and ENT_HTML5 were added.
5.3.0 The constant ENT_IGNORE was added.
5.2.3 The double_encode parameter was added.
4.1.0 The encoding parameter was added.


Example #1 htmlspecialchars() example

htmlspecialchars("<a href='test'>Test</a>"ENT_QUOTES);
$new// &lt;a href=&#039;test&#039;&gt;Test&lt;/a&gt;



Note that this function does not translate anything beyond what is listed above. For full entity translation, see htmlentities().

See Also

PHP Manual