htmlentities() vs. htmlspecialchars()

Spread the love

In PHP, htmlentities() and htmlspecialchars() are both used to convert special characters to HTML entities, which helps prevent security vulnerabilities such as cross-site scripting (XSS). However, there are key differences between the two functions:


  • Purpose: Converts special characters to HTML entities.
  • Characters converted:
    • & becomes &
    • " becomes "
    • ' becomes ' (single quote)
    • < becomes &lt;
    • > becomes &gt;
  • Usage: Ideal for preventing XSS by escaping characters that can disrupt HTML. It’s commonly used to sanitize user input before displaying it in HTML.
  • Performance: Slightly faster than htmlentities() because it converts a smaller set of characters.


$input = 'Tom & Jerry "Great" <show>';
echo htmlspecialchars($input, ENT_QUOTES);
// Output: Tom &amp; Jerry &quot;Great&quot; &lt;show&gt;


  • Purpose: Converts all applicable characters to HTML entities.
  • Characters converted: Converts a broader range of characters, including all ASCII characters that have an HTML entity equivalent, not just the special characters converted by htmlspecialchars().
  • Usage: Useful when you need to convert characters beyond the basic set handled by htmlspecialchars(), especially when dealing with non-ASCII characters.
  • Performance: Slightly slower than htmlspecialchars() due to the more extensive character conversion.


$input = 'Tom & Jerry "Great" <show>';
echo htmlentities($input, ENT_QUOTES);
// Output: Tom &amp; Jerry &quot;Great&quot; &lt;show&gt;

Choosing Between htmlentities() and htmlspecialchars()

  • When to use htmlspecialchars(): Use this function when you only need to escape the most common HTML characters to prevent XSS. It’s generally sufficient for most web applications and provides better performance.
  • When to use htmlentities(): Use this function when you need to ensure that all characters that have HTML entity equivalents are converted. This can be particularly important when working with international characters and when the broader range of entity conversion is needed.

In summary, while both functions are used to escape potentially dangerous characters, htmlspecialchars() is usually the preferred choice for its simplicity and performance. htmlentities() is more comprehensive and should be used when a wider range of character conversion is necessary.

Scroll to Top