Set TextView text from html-formatted string resource in XML


I have some fixed strings inside my strings.xml, something like:

    <string name="somestring">

and in my layout I've got a TextView which I'd like to fill with the html-formatted string.

<TextView android:id="@+id/formattedtext"

if I do this, the content of formattedtext is just the content of somestring stripped of any html tags and thus unformatted.

I know that it is possible to set the formatted text programmatically with


because I use this in other parts of my program where it is working as expected.

To call this function I need an Activity, but at the moment my layout is just a simple more or less static view in plain XML and I'd prefer to leave it that way, to save me from the overhead of creating an Activity just to set some text.

Am I overlooking something obvious? Is it not possible at all? Any help or workarounds welcome!

Edit: Just tried some things and it seems that HTML formatting in xml has some restraints:

  • tags must be written lowercase

  • some tags which are mentioned here do not work, e.g. <br/> (it's possible to use \n instead)

5/23/2017 11:47:08 AM

Accepted Answer

Just in case anybody finds this, there's a nicer alternative that's not documented (I tripped over it after searching for hours, and finally found it in the bug list for the Android SDK itself). You CAN include raw HTML in strings.xml, as long as you wrap it in

<![CDATA[ ...raw html... ]]>


<string name="nice_html">
<p>This is a html-formatted string with <b>bold</b> and <i>italic</i> text</p>
<p>This is another paragraph of the same string.</p>

Then, in your code:

TextView foo = (TextView)findViewById(;

IMHO, this is several orders of magnitude nicer to work with :-)

5/28/2011 3:52:44 AM

As the top answer here is suggesting something wrong (or at least too complicated), I feel this should be updated, although the question is quite old:

When using String resources in Android, you just have to call getString(...) from Java code or use android:text="@string/..." in your layout XML.

Even if you want to use HTML markup in your Strings, you don't have to change a lot:

The only characters that you need to escape in your String resources are:

  • double quotation mark: " becomes \"
  • single quotation mark: ' becomes \'
  • ampersand: & becomes &#38; or &amp;

That means you can add your HTML markup without escaping the tags:

<string name="my_string"><b>Hello World!</b> This is an example.</string>

However, to be sure, you should only use <b>, <i> and <u> as they are listed in the documentation.

If you want to use your HTML strings from XML, just keep on using android:text="@string/...", it will work fine.

The only difference is that, if you want to use your HTML strings from Java code, you have to use getText(...) instead of getString(...) now, as the former keeps the style and the latter will just strip it off.

It's as easy as that. No CDATA, no Html.fromHtml(...).

You will only need Html.fromHtml(...) if you did encode your special characters in HTML markup. Use it with getString(...) then. This can be necessary if you want to pass the String to String.format(...).

This is all described in the docs as well.


There is no difference between getText(...) with unescaped HTML (as I've proposed) or CDATA sections and Html.fromHtml(...).

See the following graphic for a comparison:

enter image description here

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