You know when using the_excerpt() and no "excerpt" is set on a post it automatically uses the first 50 words or so.

Is the same also possible when using get_the_excerpt()

For instance I'm using get_the_excerpt() like this …

$return .= sprintf('
                    <div class="title"><a href="%1$s">%2$s</a><span class="goto">a</span></div>
                    <div class="project-description">%3$s</div>
                get_permalink( get_the_ID() ),

However if no excerpt is set, the get_the_excerpt() function doesn't show a fallback (the first 50 or so words). Any idea how to make that work?

1 Answer 1


The function the_excerpt() is only a echo of the function get_the_excerpt():

function the_excerpt() {
    echo apply_filters('the_excerpt', get_the_excerpt());

If you like a fall back for no input the excerpt meta box, then create a text from the content - get_the_content(). You can use the core function wp_trim_words() for set the counter for words and easy to set a text from all content. A example:

$excerpt = get_the_content();
$excerpt = esc_attr( strip_tags( stripslashes( $excerpt ) ) );
$excerpt = wp_trim_words( $excerpt, $num_words = 55, $more = NULL );
  • thank you, but how do I use that in my sample code above. How is the_excerpt used if an excerpt is set, but the stripped/trimmed content used when no excerpt is set? What is the cleanes solution for that? Feb 20, 2013 at 12:51
  • Write you a custom function, there check for the excerpt and if empty, then use my example. This custom function include in your sprintf().
    – bueltge
    Feb 20, 2013 at 12:57
  • How do you check the excerpt is empty?
    – Ayyash
    Aug 28, 2013 at 14:13
  • Use the function get_the_excerpt() , there have a return, no echo. A example $my_excerpt = get_the_excerpt(); if ( $my_excerpt != '' ) { // todo }
    – bueltge
    Aug 29, 2013 at 11:21

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