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What the_content and get_the_content are used for in WordPress?

Author: Dimitar Radev | Posted on: June 11, 2020 |

The WordPress functions the_content and get_the_content are used to pull the main text area from the page or post.

The difference between them is in the way they are used. the_content() echoes WordPress editor’s content and it’s used inside the template files while get_the_content() is fetching it to be used in the PHP code as a variable.

Please note that there is also the_content filter which is used to apply styling and shortcodes by running a chain of filters like wp_autop which adds the tags. The full list of running filters trough the_content filter are wptexturize, convert_smilies, convert_chars, shortcode_unautop and maybe one of the most used ones do_shortcode.

Now we can dig deeper into the functions.

get_the_content pulls the copy directly from the database as a raw string containing the unwrapped shortcodes. In order to make that useful, you will need to pass the data through the_content filter which will give you an appropriate HTML output.

$content = apply_filters( 'the_content', get_the_content() );

And last but definitely not least is the_content. This function will echo the properly formatted content directly into your template. In its essence the_content calls get_the_content and applies the_content filter before echoing the result.

Except for a few minor things I skipped, now you should have a better picture in which content function or filter does what. An interesting thing to mention is that currently (WP ver 5.2) there is a warning that pops up with PHP 7.2 environments. The warning states “Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /wp-includes/post-template.php on line 284”. For more information on that please check our article How to Fix PHP 7.2 “Warning: count()” on get_the_content() or the_content() in WordPress.



WordPress Codex / Filter Reference / the content

WordPress Codex / Functions / the_content()

$more_link_text – Accepts string, optional. Changes the default string used to generate the read more text for the link when the more tag is used in the content. Defaults to null.

$strip_teaser – Accepts boolean (true or false), optional. When we set this parameter to true the content before the read more link should be removed. Literally, meaning: Remove the teaser content. Here I need to note that in my current environment I wasn’t able to get it working. It appears that there may be an issue with WP 5. Defaults to false.

WordPress Codex / Functions / get_the_content()

$more_link_text – String, Defaults to null.
$strip_teaser – Boolean, Defaults to false
$post – It is used to pull the content for a particular post or page. Accepts the WP_Post object or an integer with the post ID. Defaults to null.


I hope this article was helpful.
Have a great day!

the_content and get_the_content Frequently Asked Questions:

What is the difference between the_content and get_the_content functions in WordPress?

The short answer would be that the_content() function echoes the main page or post content writing area (a.k.a as WP Editor or WYSIWYG) and get_the_content is usually used as a variable inside a function. However, something to remember is that in order to properly display a result from get_the_content() function you will need to pass it trough the_content filter.

How to apply the “the_content” filter in WordPress?

Simply assign the apply_filters function to a variable as shown on the snippet below:

$php_var_name = apply_filters( 'the_content', get_the_content() );

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  • About the Author

     Dimitar Radev

    Hey, I'm Dimitar "B1-0S" Radev or D in short. I'm a WordPress Developer for nearly 10 years and I have in-depth knowledge in creating Custom WordPress Themes, Plugins, Commercial Themes Edits, and WooCommerce Storefronts. In the last two years, I'm specializing in Technical SEO for WordPress websites.

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