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Formatting XML - A Code snippet

, 14 Jan 2007
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How to quickly format XML for a nicer display.


I know this is basic stuff for many here, but as I couldn't find any similar article on this site I thought Id share this useful code snippet for those not so au-fait with the Xml classes.

Basically, I wanted a quick and easy way to get from a non-formatted string of XML, to something that could be nicely displayed in a textbox (ie with indenting and line breaks) without too much mucking about.

Using the code

Simple. Just call the method and display the result, eg. in a Windows forms textbox. Displaying in Webform elements may need the newline characters changed which can be done easily using String.Replace.

The code:

using System.Text;
using System.Xml;

. . .

/// <span class="code-SummaryComment"><summary>
/// Returns formatted xml string (indent and newlines) from unformatted XML
/// string for display in eg textboxes.
/// <span class="code-SummaryComment"></summary>
/// <span class="code-SummaryComment"><param name="sUnformattedXml">Unformatted xml string.</param>
/// <span class="code-SummaryComment"><returns>Formatted xml string and any exceptions that occur.</returns>

private string FormatXml(string sUnformattedXml)
    //load unformatted xml into a dom
    XmlDocument xd = new XmlDocument();

    //will hold formatted xml
    StringBuilder sb = new StringBuilder();

    //pumps the formatted xml into the StringBuilder above
    StringWriter sw = new StringWriter(sb);

    //does the formatting
    XmlTextWriter xtw = null;

        //point the xtw at the StringWriter
        xtw = new XmlTextWriter(sw);

        //we want the output formatted
        xtw.Formatting = Formatting.Indented;

        //get the dom to dump its contents into the xtw 
        //clean up even if error
        if (xtw != null)

    //return the formatted xml
    return sb.ToString();

Happy coding!


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About the Author

Ian Randell

United Kingdom United Kingdom
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Comments and Discussions

GeneralMy vote of 5 PinmemberPiyush Patell26-Jun-13 0:52 
GeneralMy vote of 5 PinmemberKoushikAmit20-Mar-13 19:32 
GeneralMy vote of 5 PinmemberDuc Huy Nguyen25-May-12 10:29 
QuestionVB.Net version PinmemberFidoDildo11-Jul-11 5:31 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pinmemberearnshaw194324-May-11 4:00 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pinmemberfreedeveloper22-Dec-10 12:06 
GeneralThanks for Sharing this Pinmemberjgdean1429-Sep-09 13:27 
GeneralU made my day Pinmemberperren25-Mar-09 13:15 
GeneralThanks Pinmembersumit703412-Feb-09 19:51 
GeneralMy vote of 1 PinmemberKevin Dance4-Dec-08 3:50 
GeneralThx Pinmemberbinabic17-Apr-08 21:55 
GeneralQl snippet PinmemberPredrag Tomasevic30-Oct-07 16:59 
GeneralNice! Pinmembercraigg7516-Jan-07 5:23 

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