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Displaying multiple lines of text on a single PDF document - PHP

If you’re a PHP developer interested in developing web applications that deliver the contents of their database tables in PDF format, then hopefully this group of articles will be what you’re looking for. Welcome to the second article of the series “Building PDF documents with PHP 5.” Composed of five instructive tutorials, this series shows you the basics for creating PDF files directly from your own PHP 5 scripts, and complements the theoretical concepts with copious hands-on examples.

  1. Constructing Multi-Line PDF Documents with PHP 5
  2. Review: building basic PDF documents using PHP 5
  3. Displaying multiple lines of text on a single PDF document
  4. Building a multi-line PDF document using the set_text_pos() method
By: Alejandro Gervasio
Rating: starstarstarstarstar / 2
November 06, 2007

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As I anticipated in the previous section, the “PDFlib” library also incorporates a handy method, called “continue_text().” As its name clearly implies, it allows you to “continue” an existing line of text previously included into a given PDF document. This makes it possible to build several blocks of text that are composed of multiple lines.

To demonstrate the implementation of this brand new method, below I listed an illustrative hands-on example. It first builds a basic PDF file, and then includes into it a few lines of trivial text.

Having said that, please take a look at the corresponding code sample, which is as follows:

// example creating a basic PDF document with PHP and multiple
lines using the 'continue_text()' method

  try {

// create new instance of the 'PDFlib' class

  $pdf=new PDFlib();

// open new PDF file


throw new PDFlibException("Error creating PDF document. ".$pdf-



  $pdf->set_info("Author","Alejandro Gervasio");

  $pdf->set_info("Title","Example on using PHP to create PDF






  $pdf->show("PHP is great for creating PDFs!");

  $pdf->continue_text('This is another line of text');

  $pdf->continue_text('This is another line of text');

  $pdf->continue_text('This is another line of text');

// end page



// end document


// get buffer contents


// get length of buffer


// display PDF document

  header("Content-type: application/pdf");

  header("Content-Length: $len");

  header("Content-Disposition: inline; filename=example.pdf");

    echo $buffer;


catch (PDFlibException $e){

  echo 'Error Number:'.$e->get_errnum()."n";

  echo 'Error Message:'.$e->get_errmsg();



As you can see, in this specific case I used the aforementioned “continue_text()” method that comes packaged with the “PDFLib” library to build a simple PDF file, which this time displays multiple lines of basic text. Obviously, the functionality offered by the method in question is indeed remarkable, since most PDF files display, in one form or another, more than one line of strings.

To complement the above example, below I included an image that depicts the  output generated by the code sample that you learned previously. It is as follows:

Pretty easy to grasp, right? At this point you hopefully learned how to build basic PDF documents that are capable of displaying multiple lines of simple text, directly from inside your PHP 5 scripts. So what’s the next step? Well, as you probably realized, the prior example used the “set_text_pos()” method to define the corresponding X,Y coordinates where the text should be displayed on the pertinent PDF document.

Thus, considering the functionality provided by this method, in the last section of this tutorial I’m going to show you how to use it to display chunks of text at different positions on the same PDF file.

To see how this will be achieved, please jump ahead and read the next few lines. I’ll be there, waiting for you.

>>> More PHP Articles          >>> More By Alejandro Gervasio

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