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PHP/REGEX: Replace multiple <br /> tags with a single <br /> tag

Posted on 2014-02-10
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Last Modified: 2014-02-11
Using PHP and Regular Expressions, how can I replace multiple <br /> tags with a singe <br /> tag?

For example, this:
<br>
<br /><br>    <br />  <br/>
<br />


Should become this:
<br />
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Question by:hankknight
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6 Comments
 
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by:Terry Woods
ID: 39848525
Try this:
$string = preg_replace("#(<br\s*/?>\s*){2,}#","<br />",$string);

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\s matches any space character, which can be a space, tab, line feed or new line.
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by:Derek Jensen
ID: 39848794
You don't even need the {2,} at the end; you can just + it and that would ensure that all <br> tags are W3C compliant. :-)

I've also modified @Terry's regex to account for newlines:

$string = preg_replace("#(<br\s*/?>(\r|\n|\s|\t)*)+#","<br />",$string);

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by:Terry Woods
ID: 39848804
Thanks Derek, a + is simpler, and does replace single occurrences of a non-standard <br> tag with the standard <br /> one. The newlines were already covered by \s though, so that change is unnecessary.
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by:Derek Jensen
Derek Jensen earned 200 total points
ID: 39848815
Interesting, I've always had difficulty with \s finding newlines unless I used the m or s modifier; I'll have to do some more testing...

...Indeed you are right! :-)  ya learn somethin' new every day! ;-)
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Accepted Solution

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Terry Woods earned 300 total points
ID: 39848827
The s modifier allows the . wildcard to also match a newline (\n) character.
The m modifier makes the ^ and $ characters match the start and end of every line (with regard to \n characters) rather than just the start and end of the entire string.

Combining our improvements, the result is:
$string = preg_replace("#(<br\s*/?>\s*)+#","<br />",$string);

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Expert Comment

by:Derek Jensen
ID: 39848834
Yeah, I always get those two mixed up; thanks for the clarification! :-)
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