CSS hyphens

The hyphens property controls whether hyphenation is allowed to create more soft wrap opportunities within a line of text.

Hyphenation Opportunities

In order to use the hyphens property effectively, you need to specify hyphenation opportunities within any word that you may wish to be hyphenated.

You can use either of the following to specify a hyphenation opportunity:

‐ (unicode U+2010)
This represents a "hard hyphen". A hyphen will be presented whether or not there is a line break.
­ (unicode U+00AD)
This represents a "soft hyphen". A hyphen will only be presented when the line actually breaks. Otherwise, the word will not be hyphenated at that position.

Also see the HTML <wbr> element, which allows you to specify a line break opportunity, but not necessarily with hyphenation.


Possible Values

Words are not hyphenated, even if characters inside the word explicitly define hyphenation opportunities.
Words are only hyphenated where there are characters inside the word that explicitly suggest hyphenation opportunities. For example, &shy; represents a soft hyphen and &hyphen; represents a hard hyphen.
Words may or may not be hyphenated depending on whether there are characters inside the word that explicitly suggest hyphenation opportunities, or a language-appropriate hyphenation resource has automatically determined that hyphenation should occur. If both are present, the former takes priority.

In addition, all CSS properties also accept the following CSS-wide keyword values as the sole component of their property value:

Represents the value specified as the property's initial value.
Represents the computed value of the property on the element's parent.
This value acts as either inherit or initial, depending on whether the property is inherited or not. In other words, it sets all properties to their parent value if they are inheritable or to their initial value if not inheritable.

Basic Property Information

Initial Value
Applies To
All elements.

Example Code

CSS Specifications

Browser Support

The following table provided by Caniuse.com shows the level of browser support for this feature.

Vendor Prefixes

For maximum browser compatibility many web developers add browser-specific properties by using extensions such as -webkit- for Safari, Google Chrome, and Opera (newer versions), -ms- for Internet Explorer, -moz- for Firefox, -o- for older versions of Opera etc. As with any CSS property, if a browser doesn't support a proprietary extension, it will simply ignore it.

This practice is not recommended by the W3C, however in many cases, the only way you can test a property is to include the CSS extension that is compatible with your browser.

The major browser manufacturers generally strive to adhere to the W3C specifications, and when they support a non-prefixed property, they typically remove the prefixed version. Also, W3C advises vendors to remove their prefixes for properties that reach Candidate Recommendation status.

Many developers use Autoprefixer, which is a postprocessor for CSS. Autoprefixer automatically adds vendor prefixes to your CSS so that you don't need to. It also removes old, unnecessary prefixes from your CSS.

You can also use Autoprefixer with preprocessors such as Less and Sass.