How to break long paragraphs

The text on a screen is harder to read than in a book but short paragraphs keep the content readable. In this tutorial, I’ll explain how to convert or split a long paragraph into short paragraphs with the help of PHP’s built-in functions

A paragraph is a series of sentences, when breaking a large text or paragraph we have to take care that a sentence should not be split into two paragraphs.

We’ll create a custom PHP function that accepts two parameters:

  1. $text : the String to be processed.
  2. $minLength: the minimum number of characters in a paragraph.
  3. $needle: default is . (dot).

This function will return an array filled with short paragraphs.

The breakLongText function:

 function breakText($text, $minLength = 200, $needle='.') {
  $delimiter = preg_quote($needle);
  $match = preg_match_all("/.*?$delimiter/",$text, $matches);

  if ($match == 0)
   return array($text);

  $sentences = current($matches);
  $paras = array();
  $tmp = '';

  foreach ($sentences as $sentence) {
   $tmp .= $sentence;
   if (strlen($tmp) > $minLength){
    $paras[] = $tmp;
    $tmp = '';

  if ($tmp != '')
   $paras[] = $tmp;
  return $paras;

 $text = 'Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.';
 $ps = breakText($text,300);
 foreach ($ps as $s)
  echo "<p>$s</p>";

The preceding code prints the following output on the browser window:

This function will always return an array even the if the text is not processed i.e. for already short text or $needle is not found in the text.

More Regular Expressions Tutorials: