Home > Software > How to Fix SyntaxError: Unterminated String Literal in JavaScript

How to Fix SyntaxError: Unterminated String Literal in JavaScript

Anastasios Antoniadis

Share on X (Twitter) Share on Facebook Share on Pinterest Share on LinkedInIn JavaScript, a SyntaxError: unterminated string literal error occurs when the JavaScript engine encounters a string that is not properly closed or terminated. Strings in JavaScript are used to store and manipulate text and must be enclosed in matching single quotes (‘), double …

Javascript

In JavaScript, a SyntaxError: unterminated string literal error occurs when the JavaScript engine encounters a string that is not properly closed or terminated. Strings in JavaScript are used to store and manipulate text and must be enclosed in matching single quotes ('), double quotes ("), or backticks (`) for template literals. This error is quite common, especially among beginners, and can lead to frustration if not understood and resolved quickly. This article delves into the causes of unterminated string literals and provides practical solutions to fix them.

Understanding the Error

An unterminated string literal error is thrown by the JavaScript interpreter when it finds the end of the line without the closing quote that matches the opening quote of the string. JavaScript strings cannot span multiple lines directly in the source code unless they are properly handled. Here are some scenarios that commonly lead to this error:

  1. Missing Closing Quote: The simplest and most common cause is simply forgetting to close a string.
  2. Accidental Line Breaks: Trying to create a string that spans multiple lines without using the correct syntax.
  3. Improper Use of Escape Characters: Incorrectly escaping characters within the string can lead to misinterpretation by the JavaScript engine.

Let’s explore these issues in detail and learn how to resolve them.

Missing Closing Quote

This scenario occurs when the closing quote of a string is missing. The JavaScript engine keeps reading the code, looking for the closing quote until it reaches the end of the line, resulting in an error.

Example:

const greeting = 'Hello, world;

Solution:

Ensure that every opening quote has a matching closing quote.

const greeting = 'Hello, world';

Accidental Line Breaks

JavaScript strings defined using single or double quotes cannot span multiple lines directly in the source code. Attempting to do so will cause an unterminated string literal error.

Example:

const quote = 'To be, or not to be,
that is the question.';

Solution:

For ES5 and earlier versions, you can use the backslash (\) at the end of the line to indicate a continuation, but it’s generally not recommended due to readability and maintainability concerns.

const quote = 'To be, or not to be, \
that is the question.';

For ES6 and later, use template literals (enclosed by backticks) which support multi-line strings natively.

const quote = `To be, or not to be,
that is the question.`;

Improper Use of Escape Characters

In JavaScript, certain characters within string literals need to be escaped with a backslash (\) because they have special meanings. For instance, to include a quote character inside a string that is also enclosed in the same type of quotes, you need to escape it. Failure to properly escape such characters can lead to unterminated string literals.

Example:

const dialogue = 'She said, 'Hello, world!' and smiled.';

Solution:

Escape the internal quotes, or use different types of quotes for the string and the internal text.

Escaping:

const dialogue = 'She said, \'Hello, world!\' and smiled.';

Using Different Quotes:

const dialogue = "She said, 'Hello, world!' and smiled.";

Or with ES6 template literals:

const dialogue = `She said, 'Hello, world!' and smiled.`;

Conclusion

The SyntaxError: unterminated string literal in JavaScript typically results from a mismatch in opening and closing quotes, accidental line breaks in strings, or improper escaping of special characters. Fixing this error involves ensuring that all strings are correctly closed, handling multi-line strings appropriately with backslashes or template literals, and correctly escaping special characters within strings. By paying close attention to these details, developers can avoid common pitfalls related to string literals, ensuring their JavaScript code is error-free and maintainable.

Anastasios Antoniadis
Follow me
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x