Truncate Text Length with CSS

Max Character Length Ellipsis with CSS

Experience the power of CSS to limit text length. Learn how to employ ellipsis for a clean, concise web design that speaks volumes.


Limiting text length with CSS is our goal today. We’ll master the max character & lines length, manage text overflow, and bring order to your designs!

In the example above, it’s showing two different ways to use CSS to limit text length.

  1. A combination of max-width, text-overflow, width & white-space. With this option, you’re defining the max-width of your element to display a single truncated line of text.
  2. Using the line-clamp property. Here you’re defining the max number of lines you’d like to display.

Simplicity at its finest! This bit of CSS is your one-stop solution to text truncation. It’s about keeping text neat & design tidy, no matter the character count!

CSS: Limit Text Length Methods

Limiting text length with CSS used to require dirty hack that made you want to take a shower afterwards. Well, get ready to be squeaky clean with a couple of different modern CSS techniques. In this article, I’m going to do a dive deep into the world of limiting text length with just CSS. We’ll explore how to effectively manage your text display, set maximum character & line lengths, and incorporate the ellipsis property for a clean, readable web design. Ready to become a CSS truncation expert? Let’s get started!

Let’s dive headfirst into the world of using CSS to limit text length. Even though CSS doesn’t come with a built-in maximum character length setting (I know, I was bummed too), don’t fret! I’ve got some wicked cool tricks up my sleeves.

First things first, we’re going to make friends with a handful of properties:

  • max-width – Sets the maximum width of an element.
  • overflow – Sets the desired behavior when content does not fit.
  • text-overflow – Sets how hidden overflow content is signaled.
  • white-space – Sets how white space inside an element is handled.
  • line-clamp – Truncates text at a specific number of lines.

But before we dive into the code, let’s look at some advantages to these CSS text truncating techniques.

Why Truncate Text with CSS?

In short, because it’s better than some dirty JavaScript or backend code solution like PHP. It’ll help your design stay clean and consistent while providing users with a cue that there’s more to the eye than what they see.

  • Say Hello to Readability: With our buddy, the ellipsis, we can tell our users, “Hey, there’s more to this story!”. It keeps our designs slick, uncluttered, and as easy to read as your favorite comic book.
  • Keepin’ It Tidy: Truncation with an ellipsis is like that magic broom from Fantasia. No matter how long your text is, the layout stays neat and clean. It’s a life-saver for responsive designs where every pixel counts.
  • Enhancing User Experience: We all hate it when text overflows and looks like a mess, right? Thanks to the ellipsis property, we can keep everything neat and tidy. No distractions, just pure, unadulterated text.
  • Saving Space Like a Pro: If you’re designing for mobile interfaces or any space-conscious scenario, truncating text with an ellipsis is like having a mini black hole. It’s the perfect way to save space without losing meaning.
  • Visual Cues are Cool: An ellipsis is more than three dots, it’s a visual cue! It nudges users gently, hinting that there’s more juice to squeeze out of your text.
  • Flexibility and Control: With CSS, you’re the boss. You’ve got the power to decide how and when your text gets cut short. It’s all about having the right tools to make the magic happen.
  • Ease of Use is Key: Using the ellipsis for text truncation in CSS is as easy as pie. Trust me, once you get the hang of it, you’ll be using it left, right, and center!
  • Cross-Browser Compatibility: From Chrome to Firefox, from Edge to Safari, the CSS ellipsis for text truncation is loved by all. Your design stays consistent, no matter where it’s viewed.
  • No More Layout Breakdowns: We all have nightmares about long strings of text breaking our perfect layouts. But with an ellipsis, those nightmares become a thing of the past.

Now, isn’t setting the max character length with just CSS the coolest thing ever? It’s like giving your text a trendy haircut, keeping it stylish and neat.

Using the max-width Technique

The max-width CSS property is a nifty tool that lets you limit the width of an element. It’s like setting a boundary for how wide your element can be. You can use it to make sure your content doesn’t extend beyond a certain number of characters. It’s quite handy when you want to maintain a consistent layout and prevent content from spilling over.

To see how it works, check out this code example:

.my-element {
  max-width: 300px;

In the above example, the element with the class my-element will never exceed a width of 300 pixels. This allows you to control the size and layout of your content effectively.

Handling Overflow with overflow

Now, what happens if your content exceeds the width you set with max-width? That’s where the overflow property comes into play. By setting overflow to hidden, you ensure that any content beyond the element’s padding box is clipped and becomes invisible. This keeps your design neat and tidy.

Here’s an example of how to use the overflow property:

.my-element {
  max-width: 300px;
  overflow: hidden;

With the overflow: hidden rule, any content extending beyond the defined width will be hidden from view. However, you might want to give your users a hint that there is more content available.

Adding the Ellipsis with text-overflow

To let users know that there is additional content hidden, we can employ the text-overflow property. When combined with the overflow property, it adds a stylish ellipsis (“…”) at the end of the visible text to indicate that there’s more to see.

To apply the ellipsis effect, include the following CSS rule:

.my-element {
  max-width: 300px;
  overflow: hidden;
  text-overflow: ellipsis;

Now, when your content exceeds the maximum width, the ellipsis will appear at the end, giving users a visual cue to indicate that there’s more content to explore.

Ensure a Single Line with white-space

When you want your text to appear as a single, unbroken line, the white-space property comes in handy. By setting it to nowrap, you prevent line breaks and collapse sequences of whitespace. This is particularly useful when you have limited space and want your content to stay compact.

Here’s how you can use the white-space property:

.my-element {
  max-width: 300px;
  overflow: hidden;
  text-overflow: ellipsis;
  white-space: nowrap;

With white-space: nowrap, your text will stay in a single line, even if the content within the element exceeds the specified width.

And there you have it! By using the max-width, overflow, text-overflow, and white-space CSS properties together, you can control the width of your elements and add a sleek ellipsis effect when necessary. Your content will look great and remain compact, even with limited space.

If you want to dive deeper into CSS or explore related topics, here are some external resources for you:

Using the line-clamp Technique

This solution allows developers to truncate text based on the number of lines vs. the width of the container. It’s a pretty straight-forward solution to truncating text with CSS and adding an ellipsis automatically to convey there’s more to the story.

.container {
    display: -webkit-box;
    -webkit-box-orient: vertical;
    -webkit-line-clamp: 4;
    line-clamp: 4;
    overflow: hidden;

Learn more about the line-clamp property in my article on modern CSS.

Wrapping Up

So there you have it! By combining a few CSS properties, you can become the master of controlling max character length and adding that stylish ellipsis effect. It’s like wielding a powerful tool to tame your overflowing text.

In this article, we explored how properties like max-width, overflow, text-overflow, and white-space can work together to give you the control you need. They allow you to set boundaries for width, hide excess content, display the ellipsis, and even keep your text in a single, unbroken line.

If you want to dive deeper into CSS properties, I highly recommend checking out the Mozilla Developer Network’s CSS property reference. It’s a treasure trove of information that will expand your CSS knowledge beyond max character length and ellipsis.

Remember, CSS is all about creativity and experimentation. So don’t be afraid to play around, tweak those properties, and see what magic you can create. Whether you’re building a personal blog or a professional website, mastering max character length and ellipsis in CSS will add that extra touch of elegance to your designs.

So go forth, my friend, armed with the knowledge of CSS properties and armed with the links I’ve provided. May your websites be sleek, your text well-controlled, and your users impressed. Happy coding!

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