Save 15% on our Pro WordPress plugins with discount code: LAUNCH2021
Web Dev + WordPress + Security

Go Back via JavaScript and PHP

This quick tutorial explains how to use HTML, JavaScript, and/or PHP to enable visitors to “go back” to the previous page. You can use either method to add a simple “go back” link or form button to your web pages.

“Go back” link via HTML & JavaScript

Use this simple code as a button that will return users to the previous page:

<form>
	<input type="button" value="Return to previous page" onClick="javascript:history.go(-1)" />
</form>

Here it is as a simple text link:

<p>
	<a href="javascript:history.go(-1)" title="Return to the previous page">« Go back</a>
</p>

You can customize the text and attributes as desired.

“Go back” link via PHP, HTML, & JavaScript

You can make things easier by serving PHP and printing the link automatically. Here is the button link:

echo '<form><input type="button" value="Return to previous page" onClick="javascript:history.go(-1)"></form>';

And here is the PHP code to print a “Go back” text link:

echo '<p><a href="javascript:history.go(-1)" title="Return to previous page">« Go back</a></p>';

As before, customize the text and attributes as desired.

Advanced “go back” technique with PHP

Better yet, you can kick the accessibility factor up a notch by using PHP’s global HTTP_REFERER variable to write explicitly the previous URL, thereby eliminating the JavaScript requirement (thanks to Rick Beckman for the idea):

<?php $referer = filter_var($_SERVER['HTTP_REFERER'], FILTER_VALIDATE_URL);
	
	if (!empty($referer)) {
		
		echo '<p><a href="'. $referer .'" title="Return to the previous page">« Go back</a></p>';
		
	} else {
		
		echo '<p><a href="javascript:history.go(-1)" title="Return to the previous page">« Go back</a></p>';
		
	}
?>

The previous code will create an explicit “Go back” link when the referring URL is known. In those awkward situations where no referring URL has been recognized, the function writes a “Go back” link via JavaScript. Note that you can refine the sanitizing function, filter_var() to suit your needs by adding various filter flags.

Jeff Starr
About the Author
Jeff Starr = Web Developer. Book Author. Secretly Important.
BBQ Pro: The fastest firewall to protect your WordPress.

5 responses to “Go Back via JavaScript and PHP”

  1. Rick Beckman 2007/03/12 2:34 pm

    If you are using PHP for it, wouldn’t it be easier to catch the referral URL, if present, and then presenting the link with an actual URL pointer, rather than JavaScript? Accessibility would be helped quite a bit then.

    If no referral URL is set (some users turn it off), a JavaScript-based fallback could be used.

  2. Jeff Starr
    Perishable 2007/03/12 3:08 pm

    Of course, of course … I was just testing you ;)

    Check out the new, improved version of the article to see your idea in action.

    – Thanks for the catch!

  3. Rick Beckman 2007/03/12 3:49 pm

    You’re welcome!

  4. thank you for the info! works fine…

  5. Jeff Starr
    Perishable 2007/09/22 8:59 pm

    Happy to help!

Comments are closed for this post. Something to add? Let me know.
Welcome
Perishable Press is operated by Jeff Starr, a professional web developer and book author with two decades of experience. Here you will find posts about web development, WordPress, security, and more »
GA Pro: Add Google Analytics to WordPress like a pro.
Thoughts
WP 5.8 Gutenberg/Block Widgets is breaking many sites. Fortunately Disable Gutenberg makes it easy to restore Classic Widgets with a click.
Easily the most common exploit scan for WordPress is /{path}/wp-login.php.
Pushing 110+ ℉ for several days now, expected for at least another week or so.
After 12 intense weeks the Plugin Planet redesign is now live. Much work still happening behind the scenes.
June, July, August historically are slow months on the Web. Perfect time to get some real work done (think projects).
Redesigning Plugin Planet is one the most challenging things I’ve done online. Almost there, about another two weeks ’til launch.
I could listen to Mouse Rat all day.
Newsletter
Get news, updates, deals & tips via email.
Email kept private. Easy unsubscribe anytime.