PHP 7.2.0 Release Candidate 4 Released


(PHP 4 >= 4.0.1, PHP 5)

fscanfParses input from a file according to a format


mixed fscanf ( resource $handle , string $format [, mixed &$... ] )

The function fscanf() is similar to sscanf(), but it takes its input from a file associated with handle and interprets the input according to the specified format, which is described in the documentation for sprintf().

Any whitespace in the format string matches any whitespace in the input stream. This means that even a tab \t in the format string can match a single space character in the input stream.

Each call to fscanf() reads one line from the file.



A file system pointer resource that is typically created using fopen().


The specified format as described in the sprintf() documentation.


The optional assigned values.

Return Values

If only two parameters were passed to this function, the values parsed will be returned as an array. Otherwise, if optional parameters are passed, the function will return the number of assigned values. The optional parameters must be passed by reference.


Version Description
4.3.0 Before this time, the maximum number of characters read from the file was 512 (or up to the first \n, whichever came first). But now, arbitrarily long lines will be read and scanned.


Example #1 fscanf() Example

while (
$userinfo fscanf($handle"%s\t%s\t%s\n")) {
    list (
$name$profession$countrycode) = $userinfo;
//... do something with the values

Example #2 Contents of users.txt

javier  argonaut        pe
hiroshi sculptor        jp
robert  slacker us
luigi   florist it

See Also

  • fread() - Binary-safe file read
  • fgets() - Gets line from file pointer
  • fgetss() - Gets line from file pointer and strip HTML tags
  • sscanf() - Parses input from a string according to a format
  • printf() - Output a formatted string
  • sprintf() - Return a formatted string

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User Contributed Notes 10 notes

yasuo_ohgaki at hotmail dot com
16 years ago
For C/C++ programmers.

fscanf() does not work like C/C++, because PHP's fscanf() move file pointer the next line implicitly.
nico at nicoswd dot com
4 years ago
If you want to parse a cron file, you may use this pattern:


while ($cron = fscanf($fp, "%s %s %s %s %s %[^\n]s"))


eugene at pro-access dot com
15 years ago
If you want to read text files in csv format or the like(no matter what character the fields are separated with), you should use fgetcsv() instead. When a text for a field is blank, fscanf() may skip it and fill it with the next text, whereas fgetcsv() correctly regards it as a blank field.
robert at NOSPAM dot NOSPAM
14 years ago
actually, instead of trying to think of every character that might be in your file, excluding the delimiter would be much easier.

for example, if your delimiter was a comma use:


instead of:

%[a-zA-Z0-9.| ... ]

Just make sure to use %[^,\n] on your last entry so you don't include the newline.
Bertrand dot Lecun at prism dot uvsq dot Fr
10 years ago
It would be great to precise in the fscanf documentation
that one call to the function, reads a complete line.
and not just the number of values defined in the format.

If a text file contains 2 lines each containing 4 integer values,
reading the file with 8 fscanf($fd,"%d",$v) doesnt run !
You have to make 2
fscanf($fd,"%d %d %d %d",$v1,$v2,$v3,$v4);

Then 1 fscanf per line.
0 at gmail dot com
11 years ago
to include all type of visible chars you should try:

<?php fscanf($file_handler,"%[ -~]"); ?>
worldwideroach at hotmail dot com
12 years ago
Yet another function to read a file and return a record/string by a delimiter.  It is very much like fgets() with the delimiter being an additional parameter.  Works great across multiple lines.

function fgetd(&$rFile, $sDelim, $iBuffer=1024) {
    $sRecord = '';
    while(!feof($rFile)) {
        $iPos = strpos($sRecord, $sDelim);
        if ($iPos === false) {
            $sRecord .= fread($rFile, $iBuffer);
        } else {
            fseek($rFile, 0-strlen($sRecord)+$iPos+strlen($sDelim), SEEK_CUR);
            return substr($sRecord, 0, $iPos);
    return false;
hdh265 at 163 dot com
2 years ago
The use of PHP code in the ACM submission
Here is a sample solution for problem 1001 using PHP:
while (fscanf(STDIN, "%d%d", $a, $b) == 2) {
    print (
$a + $b) . "\n";
arentzen at religion dot dk
10 years ago
If you want fscanf()to scan one variable in a large number of lines,  e.g an Ipadress in a line with more variables, then use fscanf with explode()
$filename = "somefile.txt";
$fp = fopen($filename, "r") or die ("Error opening file! \n");
$u = explode(" ",$line); // $u is the variable eg. an IPadress
while ($line = fscanf($fp,"%s",$u)) {
if(preg_match("/^$u/",$_SERVER['REMOTE_ADDR'])) {$badipadresss++;} // do something and continue scan
Besides, fscanf()is much faster than fgets()
james at zephyr-works dot com
16 years ago
fscanf works a little retardedly I've found. Instead of using just a plain %s you probably will need to use sets instead. Because it works so screwy compared to C/C++, fscanf does not have the ability to scan ahead in a string and pattern match correctly, so a seemingly perfect function call like:

fscanf($fh, "%s::%s");

With a file like:


Will not work. When fscanf looks for a string, it will look and stop at nothing except for a whitespace so :: and everything except whitespace is considered part of that string, however you can make it a little smarter by:

fscanf($fh, "%[a-zA-Z0-9,. ]::%[a-zA-Z0-9,. ]" $var1, $var2);

Which tells it that it can only accept a through z A through Z 0 through 9 a comma a period and a whitespace as input to the string, everything else cause it to stop taking in as input and continue parsing the line. This is very useful if you want to get a sentence into the string and you're not sure of exactly how many words to add, etc.
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