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How to limit text to n lines with CSS?

Sometimes, we have to trim text to limit the number of lines. There are a few ways to do it with pure CSS. Let's learn how to achieve that

The easiest way to limit text to n lines is to use line-clamp. N can be any positive number, but it will be two or three lines most of the time. On my blog, I'm using line-clamp in all post-type components to ensure that it will have the same height as siblings.

One-line truncation

To truncate only one line we can use:

.truncate {
  text-overflow: ellipsis;
  overflow: hidden;
  white-space: nowrap;

White-space and overflow will do the job, while text-overflow will add three dots at the end of the line.

than one line?

Multiple lines truncation

The easiest way is to use this snippet:

.truncate {
   overflow: hidden;
   text-overflow: ellipsis;
   display: -webkit-box;
   -webkit-line-clamp: 2; /* number of lines to show */
           line-clamp: 2;
   -webkit-box-orient: vertical;

We are using multiple CSS properties:

  • overflow: hidden;

  • text-overflow: ellipsis; - optional, it will add three dots at the end of the trimmed line

  • display: -webkit-box;

  • -webkit-line-clamp: 2; - here we can specify how many lines we want to show to the user

  • line-clamp: 2;

  • -webkit-box-orient: vertical;

Browser Support

According to Can I Use line-clamp truncation is supported by all major browsers except IE11 and Opera Mini.

IE-11 Support

To support IE 11, we can use max-height instead of line-clamp.

.truncate {
  display: block;
  max-height: 3.6em;
  line-height: 1.8em;

The line-height is set to 1,8em and max-height to 3,6em. Max lines are calculated in this way: 3,6em divided by 1,8em equals 2 lines.

Codepen demo to play with:

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Logo - Albert Walicki

Hello, I'm a frontend developer with over six years of experience, freelancer. I'm also a mentor for junior frontend developers. I wrote a book for Junior Frontend developers called Frontend Unicorn.

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