SCENARIO: I inherited a WordPress site that uses the Thesis theme. I have Content Blocks installed, which I use to populate the right sidebar. I have a function that randomly picks up three post excerpts in the Books category. The excerpts contain iframes to book listings from Amazon.com. View on http://thebakingwizard.com/

PROBLEM: The posts are picking up randomly, as desired, but the iframes are outside of the layer structure in the function.


  1. I understand that iframes should not be inside paragraph tags, so I used remove_filter( 'the_excerpt', 'wpautop' ); to remove the paragraph tags that Content Blocks create automatically. This did not change the situation.
  2. I changed the unordered list HTML to divs in case they were causing the problem. This did not work either.

I need the iframes to be inside the divs so I can line them up in one row.


function RandomBook() 
$args = array(
'post_type' => 'post',
'orderby'   => 'rand',
'posts_per_page' => 3,
'category_name' => 'Books',

$the_query = new WP_Query( $args );

if ( $the_query->have_posts() ) {

$string .= '<div id="AmazonListings">';
while ( $the_query->have_posts() ) 
    $BookExcerpt = the_excerpt();
    $string .= '<div class="BookExcerpt">'.$BookExcerpt.'</div>';
} // end while
$string .= '</div><!-- end Amazon book listings -->';
/* Restore original Post Data */
} else {

$string .= 'no posts found';
} // 5/23/17 Nora added */

return $string; 
} /* End Random post code from http://www.wpbeginner.com/wp-tutorials/how-to-display-random-posts-in-wordpress/<br />
 5/11/17 Nora added  */

add_filter('widget_text', 'do_shortcode'); 

1 Answer 1


The problem is that you are using the_excerpt(). This function prints out the excerpt immediately, it doesn't return a string.

From the core:

 * Display the post excerpt.
 * @since 0.71
function the_excerpt() {

     * Filters the displayed post excerpt.
     * @since 0.71
     * @see get_the_excerpt()
     * @param string $post_excerpt The post excerpt.
    echo apply_filters( 'the_excerpt', get_the_excerpt() );

So you need to circumvent the echo by using apply_filters( 'the_excerpt', get_the_excerpt() ) instead of the_excerpt(), then you get the string you need, and the iframes should be where they belong.

  • In CS we learned that if you are going to call a function, you should be sure you know what that function does. This is a perfect example. This answer set me in the right direction with a minor change. I switched functions in one line of code. I switched $BookExcerpt = get_the_excerpt(); for $BookExcerpt = the_excerpt(); Commented Jul 12, 2017 at 15:52

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