CSS Ellipsis Beginning of String

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I was incredibly happy when CSS text-overflow: ellipsis (married with fixed width and overflow: hidden was introduced to the CSS spec and browsers; the feature allowed us to stop trying to marry JavaScript width calculation with string width calculation and truncation.  CSS ellipsis was also very friendly to accessibility.

The CSS text-overflow: ellipsis feature is great but is essentially meant to ellipsize strings only at the end; what if we want to ellipsize the beginning of a screen?  The use case is fairly reasonable: think displaying a file path -- many times the directory for a set of files is the same, in which case you'd want to display the end of the string, not the beginning.

Let me show you a trick for ellipsis at the begging of the string!

The CSS

Showing an ellipsis at the front of a string is mostly the same as ellipsis at the end, only with one simple trick:

.ellipsize-left {
    /* Standard CSS ellipsis */
    white-space: nowrap;                   
    overflow: hidden;
    text-overflow: ellipsis;  
    width: 200px;
    
    /* Beginning of string */
    direction: rtl;
    text-align: left;
}

To add an ellipsis at the beginning of a string, use RTL and and text-align to clip the beginning of the string!

Playing RTL off of text-align is a genius way to get the desired effect of CSS ellipsis at the beginning of an element or string.  It would be great for the CSS spec to implement a more robust ellipsis system but, for now, I worship amazing CSS tricks like this!

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Discussion

  1. The CSS spec seems to recommend against using the direction property on web pages:

    https://drafts.csswg.org/css-writing-modes-3/#direction

  2. yak613

    http://jsfiddle.net/yak613/fhr2s10c/

    This seems kind of strange. Where is the extra slash coming from?

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