Prevent Widows with PHP and JavaScript

By  on  

One of the small touches you can add to your website is preventing "widows" in your H1-H6 tags.  For those who aren't aware, a widow (in terms of text and headings) means only one word of a title wraps to the next line -- a bit of an ugly sight if you ask me.  The way to prevent widows with just text is by adding a   between the last two words of the text instead of a regular space character.  Here are two snippets for preventing widows in your website:  one using JavaScript and another using PHP!

// With JavaScript
var text = text.replace(/\s(?=[^\s]*$)/g, ' ');
// With PHP
$text = preg_replace( '|([^\s])\s+([^\s]+)\s*$|', '$1 $2', $text);

As I mentioned originally, widows are not necessarily a bug, but a small visual quirk that just doesn't look great.  Keep these regex usages handy so you can prevent such a smudge!

Recent Features

  • By
    Responsive Images: The Ultimate Guide

    Chances are that any Web designers using our Ghostlab browser testing app, which allows seamless testing across all devices simultaneously, will have worked with responsive design in some shape or form. And as today's websites and devices become ever more varied, a plethora of responsive images...

  • By
    Designing for Simplicity

    Before we get started, it's worth me spending a brief moment introducing myself to you. My name is Mark (or @integralist if Twitter happens to be your communication tool of choice) and I currently work for BBC News in London England as a principal engineer/tech...

Incredible Demos

  • By
    JavaScript Copy to Clipboard with Branding

    I published a post a year ago detailing how you can copy to the clipboard using JavaScript.  The post was very popular and why would it be?  Copying content from a webpage without needing to use the default browser functions is awesome.  One trend I've...

  • By
    Simple Image Lazy Load and Fade

    One of the quickest and easiest website performance optimizations is decreasing image loading.  That means a variety of things, including minifying images with tools like ImageOptim and TinyPNG, using data URIs and sprites, and lazy loading images.  It's a bit jarring when you're lazy loading images and they just...

Discussion

  1. Great idea to take care of all headings at once!

    Only concern I would have would be search engines. Are there repercussions to adding this markup? Would it confuse/deter proper search engine indexing?

    I’m sure Google, etc take javascript into account in some way, but I would do this via javascript instead of PHP to lessen the chances of hurting search rankings (if that’s important to you).

  2. I’ve never seen the ?= operator in regular expression. And I don’t find such in my regex cheat sheet. Can you please explain how this particular reg ex is working? Thanks.

  3. The ?= is a look-ahead operator. It allows you to specify an expression that matches what comes next. In the example above

    (?=[^\s]*$)

    the expression is stating that the character after the space must be zero-or-more non-whtie-space characters followed by the end of the string. In other words, it makes sure that it only replaces the last space in the heading with a non-breaking space.

  4. Guru

    PHP not cancer of the Web

Wrap your code in <pre class="{language}"></pre> tags, link to a GitHub gist, JSFiddle fiddle, or CodePen pen to embed!