It came up at the Minneapolis WordPress User Group that I spoke at last night and on the Genesis Slack chat this morning. It appears to be the question of the day…

So should I escape it?

Yes! You should (late) escape (or sanitize) all output, all the time.

2015-06-08 07.26.54


Always and forever — ignore this advice at your peril.q7myn



Because security.


Even if you sanitized the data (as WordPress does) when you save it…

  1. How do you know what you saved is what you’re retrieving (e.g. it wasn’t altered after the fact)?
  2. That what you retrieved is what you have now (filters can alter the output at many stages along the way)?
  3. Are you 100% absolutely sure? Escape (or sanitize) it anyways — it almost never hurts and only helps.

Thus, you should escape or sanitize output as late as possible (just before it’s sent to the browser).

Ok, so how do I do that?

Anytime you’re going to echo output to the browser that comes from the user, the database, an API call, etc. you need to sanitize and/or escape the output before sending it down the series of tubes to the browser.

To the codex!

Validating Sanitizing and Escaping User Data

The one’s you’ll use most often are:

  • esc_html() — general HTML output.
  • esc_attr() — when you’re echoing into an HTML attribute (like “class”, “title”, etc).
  • esc_url() — urls (links, images, etc).

What does escaping output actually do?

Instead of outputting <script>…</script> it outputs &lt;script&gt;…&lt;/script&gt; which is unsightly, but as the browser doesn’t execute the code the  the attack is avoided.

You can see how HTML encoding/decoding works using an online tool.

What if I don’t want to see that strange code on my site?

You could use strip_tags(), but wp_filter_nohtml_kses() is more comprehensive. That will remove all HTML before output. You don’t have to escape at that point — but it never hurts as escaping will catch special characters that should be encoded in HTML for compatibility.

What if I need a <i> or <b> tag in my title?

No problem, you just need to sanitize instead of escape.


wp_kses_post() is the easiest route to take as it uses the global “whitelist” of allowable tags baked into WordPress. That does allow inline <script> and <iframe> tags for Administrator users — so it’s not a silver bullet.

If you want to be safe, specify your own whitelist using wp_kses().

$allowed = array
     'strong' => array(),
     'em'     => array(),
     'b'      => array(),
     'i'      => array(),
echo wp_kses( get_the_title(), $allowed );

I would like another opinion!

OK, here’s WordPress VIP’s take on the matter:
The Importance of Escaping All The Things

Nick Ciske

Nick Ciske – CTO / CISO

Nick has a degree in Multimedia Design and over 20 years of experience working in web development and digital media. In his career he’s built or rebuilt just about every kind of website, including many content management systems (before WordPress), several custom e-commerce systems, and hundreds of websites.