Mid-Atlantic Developer Conference


(PHP 4 >= 4.1.0, PHP 5, PHP 7)

vprintfOutput a formatted string


vprintf ( string $format , array $args ) : int

Display array values as a formatted string according to format (which is described in the documentation for sprintf()).

Operates as printf() but accepts an array of arguments, rather than a variable number of arguments.



The format string is composed of zero or more directives: ordinary characters (excluding %) that are copied directly to the result and conversion specifications, each of which results in fetching its own parameter.

A conversion specification follows this prototype: %[flags][width][.precision]specifier.

Flag Description
- Left-justify within the given field width; Right justification is the default
+ Prefix positive numbers with a plus sign +; Default only negative are prefixed with a negative sign.
(space) Pads the result with spaces. This is the default.
0 Only left-pads numbers with zeros. With s specifiers this can also right-pad with zeros.
'(char) Pads the result with the character (char).


An integer that says how many characters (minimum) this conversion should result in.


A period . followed by an integer who's meaning depends on the specifier:

  • For e, E, f and F specifiers: this is the number of digits to be printed after the decimal point (by default, this is 6).
  • For g and G specifiers: this is the maximum number of significant digits to be printed.
  • For s specifier: it acts as a cutoff point, setting a maximum character limit to the string.

Note: If the period is specified without an explicit value for precision, 0 is assumed.

Note: Attempting to use a position specifier greater than PHP_INT_MAX will generate warnings.

Specifier Description
% A literal percent character. No argument is required.
b The argument is treated as an integer and presented as a binary number.
c The argument is treated as an integer and presented as the character with that ASCII.
d The argument is treated as an integer and presented as a (signed) decimal number.
e The argument is treated as scientific notation (e.g. 1.2e+2). The precision specifier stands for the number of digits after the decimal point since PHP 5.2.1. In earlier versions, it was taken as number of significant digits (one less).
E Like the e specifier but uses uppercase letter (e.g. 1.2E+2).
f The argument is treated as a float and presented as a floating-point number (locale aware).
F The argument is treated as a float and presented as a floating-point number (non-locale aware). Available as of PHP 5.0.3.

General format.

Let P equal the precision if nonzero, 6 if the precision is omitted, or 1 if the precision is zero. Then, if a conversion with style E would have an exponent of X:

If P > X ≥ −4, the conversion is with style f and precision P − (X + 1). Otherwise, the conversion is with style e and precision P − 1.

G Like the g specifier but uses E and F.
o The argument is treated as an integer and presented as an octal number.
s The argument is treated and presented as a string.
u The argument is treated as an integer and presented as an unsigned decimal number.
x The argument is treated as an integer and presented as a hexadecimal number (with lowercase letters).
X The argument is treated as an integer and presented as a hexadecimal number (with uppercase letters).


The c type specifier ignores padding and width


Attempting to use a combination of the string and width specifiers with character sets that require more than one byte per character may result in unexpected results

Variables will be co-erced to a suitable type for the specifier:

Type Handling
Type Specifiers
string s
integer d, u, c, o, x, X, b
double g, G, e, E, f, F


Return Values

Returns the length of the outputted string.


Example #1 vprintf(): zero-padded integers


The above example will output:


See Also

  • printf() - Output a formatted string
  • sprintf() - Return a formatted string
  • fprintf() - Write a formatted string to a stream
  • vsprintf() - Return a formatted string
  • vfprintf() - Write a formatted string to a stream
  • sscanf() - Parses input from a string according to a format
  • fscanf() - Parses input from a file according to a format
  • number_format() - Format a number with grouped thousands
  • date() - Format a local time/date

add a note add a note

User Contributed Notes 7 notes

steve at stevelockwood dot net
4 years ago
If, instead of an array, you pass an object PHP will automatically cast the object as an array so you can use it directly in vprintf.
= new stdClass();
$object->Property1 = 'Value 1';
$object->Property2 = 'Value 2';
vprintf('%-20s %-20s', $object);

/* will output
Value 1              Value 2            
tehjosh at gamingg dot net
11 years ago
To toolofthesystem at gmail dot com:

You don't need to use output buffering with vprintf() because you can use vsprintf(), which has the same functionality as vprintf(), except that it returns the resulting string instead of outputting it.
6 years ago
Another way to display arrays is use an array_walk(). This can be useful inline echo/print where a foreach wouldn't work, e.g.

echo "These errors: ", (unset)array_walk($msgs, function($a) { echo "<p>$a</p>"; } ), "must be corrected.";
caleb at tekhawk dot com
12 years ago
i know that you can use %1$s or %3$s to select the first or third string but how can you or can you use array names to select it

something like %'user'$s $'email'$s

i tend to add things to my databases over time and this could save loads of recoding
badcop666 at hotmail dot com
11 years ago
For blocks of text, sprintf() is slow according to my tests.

Also, having the mapping between place-holders and the list of actual variables or datastructures often makes this code difficult to read. But the printf() family are widely supported and have a huge range of nice features. Performance is a cold mistress though!

From an ease-of-reading and maintenance, debugging point of view, I much prefer HEREDOC and "...{$variable}..." methods.

For a block of HTML markup with place holders, the fastest by far was:-

<div> markup etc<?= $variable ?>more markup

My tests comprised 20 runs of a loop of 1 million iterations with output buffering
, ditching the buffer on each loop.

The timings ranged from average 2.1msec/million repetitions for the <?= $var ?> method up to 7.6msec/million using printf().

I'll try some benchmarking tools too, since I just wrote this myself and it could be introducing bias, but they've run on dev servers with low load.

Hopefully interesting.
toolofthesystem at gmail dot com
11 years ago
This function comes useful sometimes when trying to list information returned from MySQL:

function print_sql($query,$printf){
    $sql_sql = mysql_query($query);
    while($sql = mysql_fetch_row($sql_sql)){

Unfortunately, this seems to sneak its way past output buffering when I tried creating an argument to allow it to be contained in a returned string... either that or I didn't do it right.
taken from &#34;Php Phrasebook&#34;
10 years ago
= 'The site runs on PHP '.phpversion();
preg_match('/php ((\d)\.\d\.\d+)/i',$string,$matches);
vprintf('Match: %s<br /> Version %s; Major:%d.',$matches);

Array ( [0] => PHP 5.2.5 [1] => 5.2.5 [2] => 5 )
Match: PHP 5.2.5 Version 5.2.5; Major:5.

For preg_match:

If matches  is provided, then it is filled with the results of search. $matches[0] will contain the text that matched the full pattern, $matches[1]  will have the text that matched the first captured parenthesized subpattern, and so on.
To Top