Jonas Fährmann

Cross Browser Multiline Truncating

21 March 2020

Truncating Strings with Ellipsis is a common way to handle longer content. This is an example of how you can deal with multiline truncating.

Single Line Truncating

Single line truncating is a common way to handle longer content and it is possible with CSS only. Truncating multiple lines is a bit harder.

Multi Line Truncating

It is not impossible.. but the solutions described so far, e.g. pure CSS with pseudo Elements ::before, ::after and line-height for measuring or plenty JavaScript based Solutions, are not the perfect way to deal with multiline truncating. Fortunately there is a proper way to handle this common problem:

See the Pen Multiline Truncating (Cross Browser) by Jonas Fährmann (@jfaehrmann) on CodePen.

What is happening here?

All examples are in fact identical, except for value of display for the container. The third example is a fallback for our beloved Internet Explorer. But more about that later.
All the magic for the multiline truncating is happening within the following lines:

.block|flex-container {
  display: -webkit-box;
  -webkit-line-clamp: var(--line-clamp);
  -webkit-box-orient: vertical;
  overflow: hidden;

And as you can see line-clamp is mostly supported across all modern browsers. line-clamp is a undocumented CSS property that will contain text to a given amount of lines when used in combination with display: -webkit-box. In this demo there is a line-clamp of 3. If you change the CSS Variable --line-clamp you can see that the amount of lines will change. Perfect! Well.. and then there is the IE.

Fallback IE
For the IE we have to add a little trick that calculates the height of the container:

.ie-block-container {
  height: calc(var(--line-height) * var(--multiplicator));