JavaScript LogoTemplate Literals introduce a new syntax into JavaScript. The backtick character provides a way to have placeholders as well as multi-line text without special characters.

Working with strings is a daily activity for most JavaScript developers. One of the most common challenges is dealing with multi-line text. This is not an unsolvable problem, but it can certainly be painful. In this article, I’ll demonstrate how Template Literals can be used to make working with multi-line text much easier. Also, I’ll demonstrate how to use placeholders with Template Literals.

Double and single quotation marks are the way that we have always worked with strings in JavaScript. Either approach works fine; you just need to be mindful of some restrictions. For example, with valid JSON, all properties must be in double quotes. Also, backslashes must be used to escape double and single quotes, depending on which one is in use. But now we have Template Literals, which introduce a new character: the backtick. When using the backtick, you can include line breaks in your text and they will be respected when your text is rendered. You can also use the newline character: “\n”. When using the newline character, you can “programmatically” insert a new line in your text without literally doing so.

Using HTML to create new lines – Example # 1

See the Pen YeYmNb by Kevin Chisholm (@kevinchisholm) on CodePen.

For Example # 1, we’ve taken the “old school” approach: we have created text using single quotes, and used the BR HTML element to create new lines in our text. When you look at the UI for Example # 1, you see that the new lines were created just as expected. We also use string concatenation to combine the “firstPart“, “endpart” and “author” variables. This is all fine, and I can say I’ve employed this approach thousands of times. The drawback with this, however, is the need to use the BR HTML element to create new lines in our text. It works as long as we actually render the HTML in our browser, but what about a situation in which the text will be rendered in a non-browser context?

Using Template Literals – Example # 2

See the Pen JavaScript Template literals – Solution by Kevin Chisholm (@kevinchisholm) on CodePen.

Well, you’ll notice a dramatic difference in how we do things in Example # 2. Here, we’ve used Template Literals — specifically, the backtick character, to create our string. In doing so, we were able to include line breaks simply by literally using new lines in our text. You may have noticed that I’ve used a textarea HTML element to display the text, because, if I were to use a paragraph element, you wouldn’t see the line breaks. And this is because the paragraph element would simply render all of the text inside of itself. But by using a textarea HTML element, we can see that the line breaks have been preserved.

Now in Example # 2 you’ll see that there’s another new concept in play: the placeholder. On Line # 21, we create the “allText” variable, which contains the combined text contained in the “firstPart“, “endpart” and “author” variables. But instead of using string concatenation (as we did in the previous example), we use placeholders. The placeholder syntax is simple: you use a dollar sign and curly braces. Inside the curly braces, you can insert any valid JavaScript expression, which will be evaluated. In our example, we use this placeholder syntax to combine the “firstPart“, “endpart” and “author” variables.

Using the New Line Character – Example # 3

See the Pen JavaScript Template literals – Solution 2 by Kevin Chisholm (@kevinchisholm) on CodePen.

Example # 3 is identical to the previous one, with one exception: we use the newline character instead of literal new lines. The output here is exactly the same, but the method for creating the string is different. This is not necessarily a “better” or “more correct” way of doing things; it’s simply an alternative way to create new lines in your string literal. The advantage here, of course, is that the new lines are created programmatically. For example, if you had a function that generated this string, based on some dynamic logic, you might want to include a single line break or double line break, depending on the logic. The newline character makes this kind of task much easier.