CSS text-overflow in a table cell?

I want to use CSS text-overflow in a table cell, such that if the text is too long to fit on one line, it will clip with an ellipsis instead of wrapping to multiple lines. Is this possible?

I tried this:

td {
  overflow: hidden;
  text-overflow: ellipsis;
  white-space: nowrap;
}

But the white-space: nowrap seems to make the text (and its cell) continually expand out to the right, pushing the total width of the table beyond the width of its container. Without it, however, the text continues to wrap to multiple lines when it hits the edge of the cell.


ANSWERS:


To clip text with an ellipsis when it overflows a table cell, you will need to set the max-width CSS property on each td class for the overflow to work. No extra layout div's are required

td {
    max-width: 100px;
    overflow: hidden;
    text-overflow: ellipsis;
    white-space: nowrap;
}

For responsive layouts; use the max-width CSS property to specify the effective minimum width of the column, or just use max-width: 0; for unlimited flexibility. Also, the containing table will need a specific width, typically width: 100%;, and the columns will typically have their width set as percentage of the total width

table {
    width: 100%;
}
td {
    max-width: 0;
    overflow: hidden;
    text-overflow: ellipsis;
    white-space: nowrap;
}
td.columnA {
    width: 30%;
}
td.columnB {
    width: 70%;
}

Historical: For IE 9 (or less) you need to have this in your HTML, to fix an IE-specific rendering issue

<!--[if IE]>
<style>
    table {
        table-layout: fixed;
        width: 100px;
    }
</style>
<![endif]-->

If you just want the table to auto-layout

Without using max-width, or percentage column widths, or table-layout: fixed etc.

How it works:


Step 1: Just let the table auto-layout do its thing.

When there's one or more columns with a lot of text, it will shrink the other columns as much as possible, then wrap the text of the long columns:

enter image description here


Step 2: Wrap cell contents in a div, then set that div to max-height: 1.1em

(the extra 0.1em is for characters which render a bit below the text base, like the tail of 'g' and 'y')

enter image description here


Step 3: Set title on the divs

This is good for accessibility, and is necessary for the little trick we'll use in a moment.

enter image description here


Step 4: Add a CSS ::after on the div

This is the tricky bit. We set a CSS ::after, with content: attr(title), then position that on top of the div and set text-overflow: ellipsis. I've coloured it red here to make it clear.

(Note how the long column now has a tailing ellipsis)

enter image description here


Step 5: Set the colour of the div text to transparent

And we're done!

enter image description here


In case you don't want to set fixed width to anything

The solution below allows you to have table cell content that is long, but must not affect the width of the parent table, nor the height of the parent row. For example where you want to have a table with width:100% that still applies auto-size feature to all other cells. Useful in data grids with "Notes" or "Comment" column or something.

enter image description here

Add these 3 rules to your CSS:

.text-overflow-dynamic-container {
    position: relative;
    max-width: 100%;
    padding: 0 !important;
    display: -webkit-flex;
    display: -moz-flex;
    display: flex;
    vertical-align: text-bottom !important;
}
.text-overflow-dynamic-ellipsis {
    position: absolute;
    white-space: nowrap;
    overflow-y: visible;
    overflow-x: hidden;
    text-overflow: ellipsis;
    -ms-text-overflow: ellipsis;
    -o-text-overflow: ellipsis;
    max-width: 100%;
    min-width: 0;
    top: 0;
    left: 0;
}
.text-overflow-dynamic-container:after,
.text-overflow-dynamic-ellipsis:after {
    content: '-';
    display: inline-block;
    visibility: hidden;
    width: 0;
}

Format HTML like this in any table cell you want dynamic text overflow:

<td>
  <span class="text-overflow-dynamic-container">
    <span class="text-overflow-dynamic-ellipsis" title="...your text again for usability...">
      //...your long text here...
    </span>
  </span>
</td>

Additionally apply desired min-width (or none at all) to the table cell.

Of course the fiddle:


When it's in percentage table width, or you can't set fixed width on table cell. You can apply table-layout: fixed; to make it work.

table {
  table-layout: fixed;
  width: 100%;
}
td {
  text-overflow: ellipsis;
  white-space: nowrap;
  overflow: hidden;
  border: 1px solid red;
}
<table>
  <tr>
    <td>Lorem ipsum and dim sum yeah yeah yeah. Lorem ipsum and dim sum yeah yeah yeah. Lorem ipsum and dim sum yeah yeah yeah. Lorem ipsum and dim sum yeah yeah yeah. Lorem ipsum and dim sum yeah yeah yeah.</td>
    <td>Lorem ipsum and dim sum yeah yeah yeah. Lorem ipsum and dim sum yeah yeah yeah. Lorem ipsum and dim sum yeah yeah yeah. Lorem ipsum and dim sum yeah yeah yeah. Lorem ipsum and dim sum yeah yeah yeah.</td>
  </tr>
</table>

Specifying a max-width or fixed width doesn't work for all situations, and the table should be fluid and auto-space its cells. That's what tables are for.

Use this:

Works on IE9 and other browsers.


It seems that if you specify table-layout: fixed; on the table element, then your styles for td should take effect. This will also affect how the cells are sized, though.

Sitepoint discusses the table-layout methods a little here:


This is the version that works in IE 9.

<div style="display:table; table-layout: fixed; width:100%; " >
        <div style="display:table-row;">
            <div style="display:table-cell;">
                <table style="width: 100%; table-layout: fixed;">
                    <div style="text-overflow:ellipsis;overflow:hidden;white-space:nowrap;">First row. Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages, and more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker including versions of Lorem Ipsum.</div>
                </table>
            </div>
            <div style="display:table-cell;">
                Top right Cell.
            </div>
        </div>
        <div style="display:table-row;">
            <div style="display:table-cell;">
                <table style="width: 100%; table-layout: fixed;">
                    <div style="text-overflow:ellipsis;overflow:hidden;white-space:nowrap;">Second row - Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages, and more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker including versions of Lorem Ipsum.</div>
                </table>
            </div>
            <div style="display:table-cell;">
                Bottom right cell.
            </div>
        </div>
    </div>

Why does this happen?

It seems this section on w3.org suggests that text-overflow applies only to block elements:

11.1.  Overflow Ellipsis: the ‘text-overflow’ property

text-overflow      clip | ellipsis | <string>  
Initial:           clip   
APPLIES TO:        BLOCK CONTAINERS               <<<<
Inherited:         no  
Percentages:       N/A  
Media:             visual  
Computed value:    as specified  

The MDN says the same.

This jsfiddle has your code (with a few debug modifications), which works fine if it's applied to a div instead of a td. It also has the only workaround I could quickly think of, by wrapping the contents of the td in a containing div block. However, that looks like "ugly" markup to me, so I'm hoping someone else has a better solution. The code to test this looks like this:

td, div {
  overflow: hidden;
  text-overflow: ellipsis;
  white-space: nowrap;
  border: 1px solid red;
  width: 80px;
}
Works, but no tables anymore:
<div>Lorem ipsum and dim sum yeah yeah yeah. Lorem ipsum and dim sum yeah yeah yeah. Lorem ipsum and dim sum yeah yeah yeah. Lorem ipsum and dim sum yeah yeah yeah. Lorem ipsum and dim sum yeah yeah yeah.</div>

Works, but non-semantic markup required:
<table><tr><td><div>Lorem ipsum and dim sum yeah yeah yeah. Lorem ipsum and dim sum yeah yeah yeah. Lorem ipsum and dim sum yeah yeah yeah. Lorem ipsum and dim sum yeah yeah yeah. Lorem ipsum and dim sum yeah yeah yeah.</div></td></tr></table>


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