CSS text-overflow

The text-overflow property specifies how text should be treated when it has been clipped due to it being too large to fit within its containing block.

You can specify that an ellipsis "…" or some other character be used to represent any hidden text.

The text-overflow property can be used in conjunction with the overflow property when it's set to hidden, scroll, or auto.

When a box has the overflow property set to hidden, any text that is too large to fit inside its containing block will be cut off from the user's view. The same applies when it's set to auto or scroll, although in these cases, the user has the option of scrolling. In any case, depending on where the text has been cut off, it may or may not be apparent to the user that there's more text and that it's simply hidden from view. You can use the text-overflow property to provide a visual clue to the user that there is more content, by displaying for example, an ellipsis "…" character (U+2026).

The text-overflow property only affects content that is overflowing in the direction of its inline progression (eg, text overflowing horizontally within a right-to-left text direction). In this case, it could be used with overflow-x but not with overflow-y.

In many cases, text will simply wrap. The text-overflow property affects only the content that can't wrap (for example, due to an extra long word, or when the white-space property is set to nowrap).


Possible Values

Specifies that the excess text is clipped (cut off). This could result in characters being only partially rendered (depending on where the edge of the containing block is).
Displays an ellipsis character (U+2026) to indicate that there is more text and it has been clipped. The ellipsis character is three dots "…" which is universally recognized as representing content that is too large to fit within the limited space. Note that the ellipsis can also be clipped if there isn't enough space to display it.
A string to represent the clipped content. This string can also be clipped if there isn't enough space to display it.

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
Block containers.

Example Code

Basic CSS

Here's an example of a basic declaration. A declaration consists of the property and its value.

Working Example within an HTML Document

Try it

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.