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CSS-only multi-line ellipsis with generated content. License:
@import "compass/css3/images";
// CSS-only multi-line ellipsis with generated content
// yields `position:relative`, so remember to declare an eventual `position:absolute/fixed` *after* including this mixin
@mixin limitLines(
$maxLinesPortrait, // Mandatory: The number of lines after which the clipping should take action.
$maxLinesLandscape: $maxLinesPortrait, // You may provide a different line limit for landscape orientation.
// Note that 'portrait' is our default orientation. However, if you omit $maxLinesLandscape,
// the value of $maxLinesPortrait is used for whatever orientation (that is, without a media query).
$fgCol: #000, // Set this to the color of the text element you want to clip.
$bgCol: #fff, // Set this to the background color of the text element you want to clip.
$lineHeight: 1.3 // Provide the (unitless!) line-height of the text element to help position the ellipsis correctly.
) {
position: relative;
overflow: hidden;
// root element class added via JS feature detection
.webkit-line-clamp & {
text-overflow: ellipsis;
display: -webkit-box;
-webkit-box-orient: vertical;
// always remember:
-webkit-line-clamp: $maxLinesPortrait;
@if($maxLinesLandscape != $maxLinesPortrait) {
@media screen and (orientation:landscape) {
-webkit-line-clamp: $maxLinesLandscape;
html:not(.webkit-line-clamp) & {
max-height: $maxLinesPortrait * $lineHeight * 1em;
// Pseudo-element containing the ellipsis (see below)
&::before {
top: ($maxLinesPortrait - 1) * $lineHeight * 1em;
@if($maxLinesLandscape != $maxLinesPortrait) {
@media screen and (orientation:landscape) {
max-height: $maxLinesLandscape * $lineHeight * 1em;
&::before {
top: ($maxLinesLandscape - 1) * $lineHeight * 1em;
// Pseudo-element containing the ellipsis, as well as a soft gradient to make in-word ellipses look less harsh.
&::before {
@extend %limit-lines-ellipsis;
color: transparentize($fgCol, 0.7);
// No -ms- support in Compass? Strange!
background: -ms-linear-gradient(left, transparentize($bgCol, 1), $bgCol 2em);
@include background(linear-gradient(left, transparentize($bgCol, 1), $bgCol 2em));
&::after {
@extend %limit-lines-filler;
background: $bgCol;
// The ellipsis itself.
// Fine-tune the balance between text clipped a bit too early vs. the probability of slightly orphaned ellipses
// via the min-width property: Higher = text clipped earlier, less orphaned ellipses. And vice versa.
%limit-lines-ellipsis {
min-width: 25%;
content: "";
position: absolute;
right: 0;
padding-left: 2em; // for the gradient
// Pseudo-element containing a good amount of whitespace.
// This is appended to the text to be clipped, in order to overlay (and thus hide) a superfluous ellipsis
// occurring when the text fits exactly into the number of lines specified.
%limit-lines-filler {
// generate a good amount of alternating normal spaces and non-breaking spaces
$whitespace: "";
@for $i from 1 through 1024 {
$whitespace: $whitespace + "  ";
content: $whitespace;
display: inline;
letter-spacing: 1em;
position: relative;
z-index: 1;
// make this a bit smaller to avoid cropping of descenders from the line above
font-size: 75%;
if (typeof window.document.createElement('div').style.webkitLineClamp !== 'undefined') {
depoulo commented Jun 24, 2013

Sample usage:

@include limitLines(
    $maxLinesPortrait: 3,
    $maxLinesLandscape: 6,
    $fgCol: #000,
    $bgCol: #fff,
    $lineHeight: 1.3
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