What is the regular expression to allow uppercase/lowercase (alphabetical characters), periods, spaces and dashes only?

I am having problems creating a regex validator that checks to make sure the input has uppercase or lowercase alphabetical characters, spaces, periods, underscores, and dashes only. Couldn't find this example online via searches. For example:

These are ok:

Dr. Marshall
sam smith
.george con-stanza .great
smith _.gorne

Anything containing other characters is not okay. That is numbers, or any other symbols.


The regex you're looking for is ^[A-Za-z.\s_-]+$

  • ^ asserts that the regular expression must match at the beginning of the subject
  • [] is a character class - any character that matches inside this expression is allowed
  • A-Z allows a range of uppercase characters
  • a-z allows a range of lowercase characters
  • . matches a period rather than a range of characters
  • \s matches whitespace (spaces and tabs)
  • _ matches an underscore
  • - matches a dash (hyphen); we have it as the last character in the character class so it doesn't get interpreted as being part of a character range. We could also escape it (\-) instead and put it anywhere in the character class, but that's less clear
  • + asserts that the preceding expression (in our case, the character class) must match one or more times
  • $ Finally, this asserts that we're now at the end of the subject

When you're testing regular expressions, you'll likely find a tool like regexpal helpful. This allows you to see your regular expression match (or fail to match) your sample data in real time as you write it.

Check out the basics of regular expressions in a tutorial. All it requires is two anchors and a repeated character class:

^[a-zA-Z ._-]*$

If you use the case-insensitive modifier, you can shorten this to

^[a-z ._-]*$

Note that the space is significant (it is just a character like any other).

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