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word-break

The word-break property in CSS can be used to change when line breaks ought to occur. Normally, line breaks in text can only occur in certain spaces, like when there is a space or a hyphen.

In the example below we can make the word-break between letters instead:

p {
  word-break: break-all;
}

If we then set the width of the text to one em, the word will break by each letter:

See the Pen Setting text vertically with word-break by CSS-Tricks (@css-tricks) on CodePen.

This value is often used in places with user generated content so that long strings don't risk breaking the layout. One very common example is a long copy and pasted URL. If that URL has no hyphens, it can extend beyond the parent box and look bad or worse, cause layout problems.

See the Pen Fixing links with word-break by CSS-Tricks (@css-tricks) on CodePen.

Values

  • normal: use the default rules for word breaking.
  • break-all: any word/letter can break onto the next line.
  • keep-all: for Chinese, Japanese and Korean text words are not broken. Otherwise this is the same as normal.

This property is also often used in conjunction with the hyphens property so that when breaks occur a hypen is inserted, as per the standard in books.

The full usage, with needed vendor prefixes, is:

 -ms-word-break: break-all;
     word-break: break-all;

     /* Non standard for WebKit */
     word-break: break-word;

-webkit-hyphens: auto;
   -moz-hyphens: auto;
        hyphens: auto;

Using these properties on the universal selector can be useful if you have a site with a lot of user-generated content. Although fair warning, it can look weird on titles and pre-formatted text (<pre>).

Browser Support

This browser support data is from Caniuse, which has more detail. A number indicates that browser supports the feature at that version and up.

Desktop

ChromeOperaFirefoxIEEdgeSafari
2312.14911186.1

Mobile / Tablet

iOS SafariOpera MobileOpera MiniAndroidAndroid ChromeAndroid Firefox
7.0-7.146all4.47366

Safari and iOS support the break-all value but not keep-all

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