CSS Text Module Level 3

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This CSS module defines properties for text manipulation and specifies their processing model. It covers line breaking, justification and alignment, white space handling, and text transformation.

CSS is a language for describing the rendering of structured documents (such as HTML and XML) on screen, on paper, etc.

Status of this document

This section describes the status of this document at the time of its publication. Other documents may supersede this document. A list of current W3C publications and the latest revision of this technical report can be found in the W3C technical reports index at https://www.w3.org/TR/.

This document was published by the CSS Working Group as a Candidate Recommendation Draft. Publication as a Candidate Recommendation does not imply endorsement by the W3C Membership. A Candidate Recommendation Draft integrates changes from the previous Candidate Recommendation that the Working Group intends to include in a subsequent Candidate Recommendation Snapshot.

This is a draft document and may be updated, replaced or obsoleted by other documents at any time. It is inappropriate to cite this document as other than work in progress.

Please send feedback by filing issues in GitHub (preferred), including the spec code “css-text” in the title, like this: “[css-text] …summary of comment…”. All issues and comments are archived. Alternately, feedback can be sent to the (archived) public mailing list www-style@w3.org.

This document is governed by the 15 September 2020 W3C Process Document.

This document was produced by a group operating under the W3C Patent Policy. W3C maintains a public list of any patent disclosures made in connection with the deliverables of the group; that page also includes instructions for disclosing a patent. An individual who has actual knowledge of a patent which the individual believes contains Essential Claim(s) must disclose the information in accordance with section 6 of the W3C Patent Policy.

This publication fully addresses the issues raised since the October 2013 Last Call Working Draft, which are documented in the disposition of comments.

The following features are at-risk, and may be dropped during the CR period:

“At-risk” is a W3C Process term-of-art, and does not necessarily imply that the feature is in danger of being dropped or delayed. It means that the WG believes the feature may have difficulty being interoperably implemented in a timely manner, and marking it as such allows the WG to drop the feature if necessary when transitioning to the Proposed Rec stage, without having to publish a new Candidate Rec without the feature first.

1. Introduction

This module describes the typesetting controls of CSS; that is, the features of CSS that control the translation of source text to formatted, line-wrapped text. Various CSS properties provide control over case transformation, white space collapsing, text wrapping, line breaking rules and hyphenation, alignment and justification, spacing, and indentation.

Note: Font selection is covered in CSS Fonts Level 3 [CSS-FONTS-3].

Features for decorating text, such as underlines, emphasis marks, and shadows, (previously part of this module) are covered in CSS Text Decoration Level 3 [CSS-TEXT-DECOR-3].

Bidirectional and vertical text are addressed in CSS Writing Modes Level 3 [CSS-WRITING-MODES-3].

Further information about the typesetting requirements of various languages and writing systems around the world can be found in the Internationalization Working Group’s Typography Index. [TYPOGRAPHY]

1.1. Module Interactions

This module, together with [CSS-TEXT-DECOR-3], replaces and extends the text-level features defined in [CSS2] chapter 16.

In addition to the terms defined below, other terminology and concepts used in this specification are defined in [CSS2] and [CSS-WRITING-MODES-3].

1.2. Value Definitions

This specification follows the CSS property definition conventions from [CSS2] using the value definition syntax from [CSS-VALUES-3]. Value types not defined in this specification are defined in CSS Values & Units [CSS-VALUES-3]. Combination with other CSS modules may expand the definitions of these value types.

In addition to the property-specific values listed in their definitions, all properties defined in this specification also accept the CSS-wide keywords as their property value. For readability they have not been repeated explicitly.

1.3. Languages and Typesetting

Authors should accurately language-tag their content for the best typographic behavior.

Many typographic effects vary by linguistic context. Language and writing system conventions can affect line breaking, hyphenation, justification, glyph selection, and many other typographic effects. In CSS, language-specific typographic tailorings are only applied when the content language is known (declared). Therefore, higher quality typography requires authors to communicate to the UA the correct linguistic context of the text in the document.

The content language of an element is the (human) language the element is declared to be in, according to the rules of the document language. Note that it is possible for the content language of an element to be unknown—e.g. untagged content, or content in a document language that does not have a language-tagging facility is considered to have an unknown content language.

Note: Authors can declare the content language using the global lang attribute in HTML or the universal xml:lang attribute in XML. See the rules for determining the content language of an HTML element in [HTML], and the rules for determining the content language of an XML element in [XML10].

The content language an element is declared to be in also identifies the specific written form of that language used in that element, known as the content writing system. Depending on the document language's facilities for identifying the content language, this information can be explicit or implied. See the normative Appendix F. Identifying the Content Writing System.

Note: Some languages have more than one writing system tradition; in other cases a language can be transliterated into a foreign writing system. Authors should subtag such cases so that the UA can adapt appropriately.

1.4. Characters and Letters

The basic unit of typesetting is the character. However, because writing systems are not always as simple as the basic English alphabet, what a character actually is depends on the context in which the term is used. For example, in Hangul (the Korean writing system), each square representation of a syllable (e.g. =Han) can be considered a character. However, the square symbol is really composed of multiple letters each representing a phoneme (e.g. =h, =a, =n) and these also could each be considered a character.

A basic unit of computer text encoding, for any given encoding, is also called a character, and depending on the encoding, a single encoding character might correspond to the entire pre-composed syllabic character (e.g. ), to the individual phonemic character (e.g. ), or to smaller units such as a base letterform (e.g. ) and any combining marks that vary it (e.g. extra strokes that represent aspiration).

In turn, a single encoding character can be represented in the data stream as one or more bytes; and in programming environments one byte is sometimes also called a character.

Therefore the term character is fairly ambiguous where technical precision is required.

For text layout, we will refer to the typographic character unit as the basic unit of text. Even within the realm of text layout, the relevant character unit depends on the operation. For example, line-breaking and letter-spacing will segment a sequence of Thai characters that include U+0E33 THAI CHARACTER SARA AM differently; or the behavior of a conjunct consonant in a script such as Devanagari may depend on the font in use. So the typographic character represents a unit of the writing system— such as a Latin alphabetic letter (including its diacritics), Hangul syllable, Chinese ideographic character, Myanmar syllable cluster— that is indivisible with respect to a particular typographic operation (line-breaking, first-letter effects, tracking, justification, vertical arrangement, etc.).

Unicode Standard Annex #29: Text Segmentation defines a unit called the grapheme cluster which approximates the typographic character. A UA must use the extended grapheme cluster (not legacy grapheme cluster), as defined in [UAX29], as the basis for its typographic character unit. However, the UA should tailor the definitions as required by typographic tradition since the default rules are not always appropriate or ideal—and is expected to tailor them differently depending on the operation as needed.

Note: The rules for such tailorings are out of scope for CSS.

The following are some examples of typographic character unit tailorings required by standard typesetting practice:

A typographic letter unit or letter for the purpose of this specification is a typographic character unit belonging to one of the Letter or Number general categories in Unicode. [UAX44] See Character Properties for how to determine the Unicode properties of a typographic character unit.

The rendering characteristics of a typographic character unit divided by an element boundary is undefined. Ideally each component should be rendered according to the formatting requirements of its respective element’s properties while maintaining correct shaping and positioning of the typographic character unit as a whole. However, depending on the nature of the formatting differences between its parts and the capabilities of the font technology in use, this is not always possible. Therefore such a typographic character unit may be rendered as belonging to either side of the boundary, or as some approximation of belonging to both. Authors are forewarned that dividing grapheme clusters or ligatures by element boundaries may give inconsistent or undesired results.

1.5. Text Processing

CSS is built on [UNICODE]. UAs that support Unicode must adhere to all normative requirements of the Unicode Core Standard, except where explicitly overridden by CSS. UAs that use a different encoding are not explicitly supported by the CSS specifications; they are, however, expected to fulfill the same text handling requirements by assuming an appropriate mapping between that encoding and Unicode.

For the purpose of determining adjacency for text processing (such as white space processing, text transformation, line-breaking, etc.), and thus in general within this specification, intervening inline box boundaries and out-of-flow elements must be ignored. With respect to text shaping, however, see § 7.3 Shaping Across Element Boundaries.

2. Transforming Text

2.1. Case Transforms: the text-transform property

Name: text-transform
Value: none | [capitalize | uppercase | lowercase ] || full-width || full-size-kana
Initial: none
Applies to: text
Inherited: yes
Percentages: n/a
Computed value: specified keyword
Canonical order: n/a
Animation type: discrete

This property transforms text for styling purposes. It has no effect on the underlying content, and must not affect the content of a plain text copy & paste operation.

Note: The text-transform property only affects the presentation layer; correct casing for semantic purposes is expected to be represented in the source document.

Values have the following meanings:

No effects.
Puts the first typographic letter unit of each word, if lowercase, in titlecase; other characters are unaffected.
Puts all letters in uppercase.
Puts all letters in lowercase.
Puts all typographic character units in fullwidth form. If a character does not have a corresponding fullwidth form, it is left as is. This value is typically used to typeset Latin letters and digits as if they were ideographic characters.
Converts all small Kana characters to the equivalent full-size Kana. This value is typically used for ruby annotation text, where authors may want all small Kana to be drawn as large Kana to compensate for legibility issues at the small font sizes typically used in ruby.

The following example converts the ASCII characters used in abbreviations in Japanese text to their fullwidth variants so that they lay out and line break like ideographs:

abbr:lang(ja) { text-transform: full-width; }

Note: The purpose of text-transform is to allow for presentational casing transformations without affecting the semantics of the document. Note in particular that text-transform casing operations are lossy, and can distort the meaning of a text. While accessibility interfaces may wish to convey the apparent casing of the rendered text to the user, the transformed text cannot be relied on to accurately represent the underlying meaning of the document.

In this example, the first line of text is capitalized as a visual effect.
section > p:first-of-type::first-line {
  text-transform: uppercase;

This effect cannot be written into the source document because the position of the line break depends on layout. But also, the capitalization is not reflecting a semantic distinction and is not intended to affect the paragraph’s reading; therefore it belongs in the presentation layer.

In this example, the ruby annotations, which are half the size of the main paragraph text, are transformed to use regular-size kana in place of small kana.
rt { font-size: 50%; text-transform: full-size-kana; }
:is(h1, h2, h3, h4) rt { text-transform: none; /* unset for large text*/ }

Note that while this makes such letters easier to see at small type sizes, the transformation distorts the text: the reader needs to mentally substitute small kana in the appropriate places—not unlike reading a text in English with all “s” characters substituted by “f”.

For example, if text-transform: full-size-kana were applied to the following source, the annotation would read “じゆう” (jiyū), which means “liberty”, instead of “じゅう” (jū), which means “ten”, the correct reading and meaning for the annotated “十”.


2.1.1. Mapping Rules

For capitalize, what constitutes a “word“ is UA-dependent; [UAX29] is suggested (but not required) for determining such word boundaries. Authors should not expect capitalize to follow language-specific titlecasing conventions (such as skipping articles in English). Out-of-flow elements and inline element boundaries must not introduce a text-transform word boundary and must be ignored when determining such word boundaries.

The UA must use the full case mappings for Unicode characters, including any conditional casing rules, as defined in Default Case Algorithm section of The Unicode Standard [UNICODE]. If (and only if) the content language of the element is, according to the rules of the document language, known, then any appropriate language-specific rules must be applied as well. These minimally include, but are not limited to, the language-specific rules in Unicode’s SpecialCasing.txt.

For example, in Turkish there are two “i”s, one with a dot—“İ” and “i”— and one without—“I” and “ı”. Thus the usual case mappings between “I” and “i” are replaced with a different set of mappings to their respective undotted/dotted counterparts, which do not exist in English. This mapping must only take effect if the content language is Turkish written in its modern Latin-based writing system (or another Turkic language that uses Turkish casing rules); in other languages, the usual mapping of “I” and “i” is required. This rule is thus conditionally defined in Unicode’s SpecialCasing.txt file.

The definition of fullwidth and halfwidth forms can be found on the Unicode consortium web site at [UAX11]. The mapping to fullwidth form is defined by taking code points with the <wide> or the <narrow> tag in their Decomposition_Mapping in [UAX44]. For the <narrow> tag, the mapping is from the code point to the decomposition (minus <narrow> tag), and for the <wide> tag, the mapping is from the decomposition (minus the <wide> tag) back to the original code point.

The mappings for small Kana to full-size Kana are defined in Appendix G. Small Kana Mappings.

2.1.2. Order of Operations

When multiple values are specified and therefore multiple transformations need to be applied, they are applied in the following order:

  1. capitalize, uppercase, and lowercase
  2. full-width
  3. full-size-kana

Text transformation happens after § 4.1.1 Phase I: Collapsing and Transformation but before § 4.1.2 Phase II: Trimming and Positioning. This means that full-width only transforms U+0020 spaces to U+3000 within preserved white space.

Note: As defined in Text Processing Order of Operations, transforming text affects line-breaking and other formatting operations.

3. White Space and Wrapping: the white-space property

Name: white-space
Value: normal | pre | nowrap | pre-wrap | break-spaces | pre-line
Initial: normal
Applies to: text
Inherited: yes
Percentages: n/a
Computed value: specified keyword
Canonical order: n/a
Animation type: discrete

This property specifies two things:

Values have the following meanings, which must be interpreted according to the White Space Processing and Line Breaking rules:

This value directs user agents to collapse sequences of white space into a single character (or in some cases, no character). Lines may wrap at allowed soft wrap opportunities, as determined by the line-breaking rules in effect, in order to minimize inline-axis overflow.
This value prevents user agents from collapsing sequences of white space. Segment breaks such as line feeds are preserved as forced line breaks. Lines only break at forced line breaks; content that does not fit within the block container overflows it.
Like normal, this value collapses white space; but like pre, it does not allow wrapping.
Like pre, this value preserves white space; but like normal, it allows wrapping.
The behavior is identical to that of pre-wrap, except that:

Note: This value does not guarantee that there will never be any overflow due to white space: for example, if the line length is so short that even a single white space character does not fit, overflow is unavoidable.

Like normal, this value collapses consecutive white space characters and allows wrapping, but preserves segment breaks in the source as forced line breaks.

White space that was not removed or collapsed due to white space processing is called preserved white space.

Note: In some cases, preserved white space and other space separators can hang when at the end of the line; this can affect whether they are measured for intrinsic sizing.

The following informative table summarizes the behavior of various white-space values:

New Lines Spaces and Tabs Text Wrapping End-of-line spaces End-of-line other space separators
normal Collapse Collapse Wrap Remove Hang
pre Preserve Preserve No wrap Preserve No wrap
nowrap Collapse Collapse No wrap Remove Hang
pre-wrap Preserve Preserve Wrap Hang Hang
break-spaces Preserve Preserve Wrap Wrap Wrap
pre-line Preserve Collapse Wrap Remove Hang

See White Space Processing Rules for details on how white space collapses. An informative summary of collapsing (normal and nowrap) is presented below:

See Line Breaking for details on wrapping behavior.

4. White Space Processing & Control Characters

The source text of a document often contains formatting that is not relevant to the final rendering: for example, breaking the source into segments (lines) for ease of editing or adding white space characters such as tabs and spaces to indent the source code. CSS white space processing allows the author to control interpretation of such formatting: to preserve or collapse it away when rendering the document. White space processing in CSS (which is controlled with the white-space property) interprets white space characters only for rendering: it has no effect on the underlying document data.

Note: Depending on the document language, segments can be separated by a particular newline sequence (such as a line feed or CRLF pair), or delimited by some other mechanism, such as the SGML RECORD-START and RECORD-END tokens.

For CSS processing, each document language–defined “segment break” or “newline sequence”—or if none are defined, each line feed (U+000A)—in the text is treated as a segment break, which is then interpreted for rendering as specified by the white-space property.

In the case of [HTML], each newline sequence is normalized to a single line feed (U+000A) for representation in the DOM, so when an HTML document is represented as a [DOM] tree each line feed (U+000A) is treated as a segment break.

Note: In most common CSS implementations, HTML does not get styled directly. Instead, it is processed into a [DOM] tree, which is then styled. Unlike HTML, the DOM does not give any particular meaning to carriage returns (U+000D), so they are not treated as segment breaks. If carriage returns (U+000D) are inserted into the DOM by means other than HTML parsing, they then get treated as defined below.

Note: A document parser might not only normalize any segment breaks, but also collapse other space characters or otherwise process white space according to markup rules. Because CSS processing occurs after the parsing stage, it is not possible to restore these characters for styling. Therefore, some of the behavior specified below can be affected by these limitations and may be user agent dependent.

Note: Anonymous blocks consisting entirely of collapsible white space are removed from the rendering tree. Thus any such white space surrounding a block-level element is collapsed away. See [CSS2] section

Control characters (Unicode category Cc)—other than tabs (U+0009), line feeds (U+000A), carriage returns (U+000D) and sequences that form a segment breakmust be rendered as a visible glyph which the UA must synthesize if the glyphs found in the font are not visible, and must be otherwise treated as any other character of the Other Symbols (So) general category and Common script. The UA may use a glyph provided by a font specifically for the control character, substitute the glyphs provided for the corresponding symbol in the Control Pictures block, generate a visual representation of its code point value, or use some other method to provide an appropriate visible glyph. As required by [UNICODE], unsupported Default_ignorable characters must be ignored for text rendering.

Carriage returns (U+000D) are treated identically to spaces (U+0020) in all respects.

Note: For HTML documents, carriage returns present in the source code are converted to line feeds at the parsing stage (see HTML 5 § Preprocessing the input stream and the definition of normalize newlines in [INFRA]) and therefore do no appear as U+000D to CSS. However, the character is preserved—and the above rule observable—when encoded using an escape sequence (&#x0d;).

4.1. The White Space Processing Rules

Except where specified otherwise, white space processing in CSS affects only the document white space characters: spaces (U+0020), tabs (U+0009), and segment breaks.

Note: The set of characters considered document white space (part of the document content) and those considered syntactic white space (part of the CSS syntax) are not necessarily identical. However, since both include spaces (U+0020), tabs (U+0009), and line feeds (U+000A) most authors won’t notice any differences.

Besides Space (U+0020) and No-Break Space (U+00A0), Unicode [UNICODE] defines a number of additional space separator characters. In this specification all characters in the Unicode Zs category (See [UAX44]) except Space (U+0020) and No-Break Space (U+00A0) are collectively referred to as other space separators.

4.1.1. Phase I: Collapsing and Transformation

For each inline (including anonymous inlines; see [CSS2] section within an inline formatting context, white space characters are processed as follows prior to line breaking and bidi reordering, ignoring bidi formatting characters (characters with the Bidi_Control property [UAX9]) as if they were not there:

The following example illustrates the interaction of white-space collapsing and bidirectionality. Consider the following markup fragment, taking special note of spaces (with varied backgrounds and borders for emphasis and identification):

<ltr>A <rtl> B </rtl> C</ltr>

where the <ltr> element represents a left-to-right embedding and the <rtl> element represents a right-to-left embedding. If the white-space property is set to normal, the white-space processing model will result in the following:

This will leave two spaces, one after the A in the left-to-right embedding level, and one after the B in the right-to-left embedding level. The text will then be ordered according to the Unicode bidirectional algorithm, with the end result being:


Note that there will be two spaces between A and B, and none between B and C. This is best avoided by putting spaces outside the element instead of just inside the opening and closing tags and, where practical, by relying on implicit bidirectionality instead of explicit embedding levels.

4.1.2. Phase II: Trimming and Positioning

Then, the entire block is rendered. Inlines are laid out, taking bidi reordering into account, and wrapping as specified by the white-space property. As each line is laid out,

  1. A sequence of collapsible spaces at the beginning of a line is removed.
  2. If the tab size is zero, preserved tabs are not rendered. Otherwise, each preserved tab is rendered as a horizontal shift that lines up the start edge of the next glyph with the next tab stop. If this distance is less than 0.5ch, then the subsequent tab stop is used instead. Tab stops occur at points that are multiples of the tab size from the starting content edge of the preserved tab's nearest block container ancestor. The tab size is given by the tab-size property.

    Note: See [UAX9] for rules on how U+0009 tabulation interacts with bidi.

  3. A sequence at the end of a line of collapsible spaces is removed, as well as any trailing U+1680 OGHAM SPACE MARK whose white-space property is normal, nowrap, or pre-line.

    Note: Due to [UAX9] rule L1, a sequence of collapsible spaces located at the end of the line prior to bidi reordering [CSS-WRITING-MODES-3] will also be at the end of the line after reordering.

  4. If there remains any sequence of white space, other space separators, and/or preserved tabs at the end of a line (after bidi reordering [CSS-WRITING-MODES-3]):
    • If white-space is set to normal, nowrap, or pre-line, the UA must hang this sequence (unconditionally).
    • If white-space is set to pre-wrap, the UA must (unconditionally) hang this sequence, unless the sequence is followed by a forced line break, in which case it must conditionally hang the sequence is instead. It may also visually collapse the character advance widths of any that would otherwise overflow.

      Note: Hanging the white space rather than collapsing it allows users to see the space when selecting or editing text.

    • If white-space is set to break-spaces, spaces, tabs, and other space separators are treated the same as other visible characters: they cannot hang nor have their advance width collapsed.

      Note: Such characters therefore take up space, and depending on the available space and applicable line breaking controls will either overflow or cause the line to wrap.

This example shows that conditionally hanging white space at the end of lines with forced breaks provides symmetry with the start of the line. An underline is added to help visualize the spaces.
p {
  white-space: pre-wrap;
  width: 5ch;
  border: solid 1px;
  font-family: monospace;
  text-align: center;
<p> 0 </p>

The sample above would be rendered as follows:


Since the final space is before a forced line break and does not overflow, it does not hang, and centering works as expected.

This example illustrates the difference between hanging spaces at the end of lines without forced breaks, and conditionally hanging them at the end of lines with forced breaks. An underline is added to help visualize the spaces.
p {
  white-space: pre-wrap;
  width: 3ch;
  border: solid 1px;
  font-family: monospace;
<p> 0 0 0 0 </p>

The sample above would be rendered as follows:

0 0

If p { text-align: right; } was added, the result would be as follows:

0 0

As the preserved spaces at the end of lines without a forced break must hang, they are not considered when placing the rest of the line during text alignment. When aligning towards the end, this means any such spaces will overflow, and will not prevent the rest of the line’s content from being flush with the edge of the line. On the other hand, preserved spaces at the end of a line with a forced break conditionally hang. Since the space at the end of the last line would not overflow in this example, it does not hang and therefore is considered during text alignment.

In the following example, there is not enough room on any line to fit the end-of-line spaces, so they hang on all lines: the one on the line without a forced break because it must, as well as the one on the line with a forced break, because it conditionally hangs and overflows. An underline is added to help visualize the spaces.
p {
  white-space: pre-wrap;
  width: 3ch;
  border: solid 1px;
  font-family: monospace;
<p>0 0 0 0 </p>
0 0
0 0

The last line is not wrapped before the last 0 because characters that conditionally hang are not considered when measuring the line’s contents for fit.

4.1.3. Segment Break Transformation Rules

When white-space is pre, pre-wrap, break-spaces, or pre-line, segment breaks are not collapsible and are instead transformed into a preserved line feed (U+000A).

For other values of white-space, segment breaks are collapsible, and are collapsed as follows:

  1. First, any collapsible segment break immediately following another collapsible segment break is removed.
  2. Then any remaining segment break is either transformed into a space (U+0020) or removed depending on the context before and after the break. The rules for this operation are UA-defined in this level.

    Note: The white space processing rules have already removed any tabs and spaces around the segment break before this context is evaluated.

The purpose of the segment break transformation rules (and white space collapsing in general) is to “unbreak” text that has been broken into segments to make the document source code easier to work with. In languages that use word separators, such as English and Korean, “unbreaking” a line requires joining the two lines with a space.
Here is an English paragraph
that is broken into multiple lines
in the source code so that it can
be more easily read and edited
in a text editor.

Here is an English paragraph that is broken into multiple lines in the source code so that it can be more easily read and edited in a text editor.

Eliminating a line break in English requires maintaining a space in its place.

In languages that have no word separators, such as Chinese, “unbreaking” a line requires joining the two lines with no intervening space.



Eliminating a line break in Chinese requires eliminating any intervening white space.

The segment break transformation rules can use adjacent context to either transform the segment break into a space or eliminate it entirely.

Note: Historically, HTML and CSS have unconditionally converted segment breaks to spaces, which has prevented content authored in languages such as Chinese from being able to break lines within the source. Thus UA heuristics need to be conservative about where they discard segment breaks even as they strive to improve support for such languages.

4.2. Tab Character Size: the tab-size property

Name: tab-size
Value: <number> | <length>
Initial: 8
Applies to: text
Inherited: yes
Percentages: n/a
Computed value: the specified number or absolute length
Canonical order: n/a
Animation type: by computed value type

This property determines the tab size used to render preserved tab characters (U+0009). A <number> represents the measure as a multiple of the advance width of the space character (U+0020) of the nearest block container ancestor of the preserved tab, including its associated letter-spacing and word-spacing. Negative values are not allowed.

5. Line Breaking and Word Boundaries

When inline-level content is laid out into lines, it is broken across line boxes. Such a break is called a line break. When a line is broken due to explicit line-breaking controls (such as a preserved newline character), or due to the start or end of a block, it is a forced line break. When a line is broken due to content wrapping (i.e. when the UA creates unforced line breaks in order to fit the content within the measure), it is a soft wrap break. The process of breaking inline-level content into lines is called line breaking.

Wrapping is only performed at an allowed break point, called a soft wrap opportunity. When wrapping is enabled (see white-space), the UA must minimize the amount of content overflowing a line by wrapping the line at a soft wrap opportunity, if one exists.

In most writing systems, in the absence of hyphenation a soft wrap opportunity occurs only at word boundaries. Many such systems use spaces or punctuation to explicitly separate words, and soft wrap opportunities can be identified by these characters. Scripts such as Thai, Lao, and Khmer, however, do not use spaces or punctuation to separate words. Although the zero width space (U+200B) can be used as an explicit word delimiter in these scripts, this practice is not common. As a result, a lexical resource is needed to correctly identify soft wrap opportunities in such texts.

In some other writing systems, soft wrap opportunities are based on orthographic syllable boundaries, not word boundaries. Some of these systems, such as Javanese and Balinese, are similar to Thai and Lao in that they require analysis of the text to find breaking opportunities. In others such as Chinese (as well as Japanese, Yi, and sometimes also Korean), each syllable tends to correspond to a single typographic letter unit, and thus line breaking conventions allow the line to break anywhere except between certain character combinations. Additionally the level of strictness in these restrictions varies with the typesetting style.

While CSS does not fully define where soft wrap opportunities occur, some controls are provided to distinguish common variations:

Note: [UAX14] defines a baseline behavior for line breaking for all scripts in Unicode, which is expected to be further tailored. More information on line breaking conventions can be found in [JLREQ] and [JIS4051] for Japanese, [CLREQ] and [ZHMARK] for Chinese. See also the Internationalization Working Group’s Typography Index [TYPOGRAPHY] which includes more information on additional languages. Any guidance on additional appropriate references would be much appreciated.

5.1. Line Breaking Details

When determining line breaks:

5.2. Breaking Rules for Letters: the word-break property

Name: word-break
Value: normal | keep-all | break-all | break-word
Initial: normal
Applies to: text
Inherited: yes
Percentages: n/a
Computed value: specified keyword
Canonical order: n/a
Animation type: discrete

This property specifies soft wrap opportunities between letters, i.e. where it is “normal” and permissible to break lines of text. Specifically it controls whether a soft wrap opportunity generally exists between adjacent typographic letter units, treating non-letter typographic character units belonging to the NU, AL, AI, or ID Unicode line breaking classes [UAX14] as typographic letter units for this purpose (only). It does not affect rules governing the soft wrap opportunities created by white space (as well as by other space separators) and around punctuation. (See line-break for controls affecting punctuation and small kana.)

For example, in some styles of CJK typesetting, English words are allowed to break between any two letters, rather than only at spaces or hyphenation points; this can be enabled with word-break:break-all.

A snippet of Japanese text with English in it. The word 'caption' is broken into 'capt' and 'ion' across two lines.

An example of English text embedded in Japanese being broken at an arbitrary point in the word.

As another example, Korean has two styles of line-breaking: between any two Korean syllables (word-break: normal) or, like English, mainly at spaces (word-break: keep-all).

각 줄의 마지막에 한글이 올 때 줄 나눔 기
준을 “글자” 또는 “어절” 단위로 한다.
각 줄의 마지막에 한글이 올 때 줄 나눔
기준을 “글자” 또는 “어절” 단위로 한다.

Ethiopic similarly has two styles of line-breaking, either only breaking at word separators (word-break: normal), or also allowing breaks between letters within a word (word-break: break-all).


Note: To enable additional break opportunities only in the case of overflow, see overflow-wrap.

Values have the following meanings:

Words break according to their customary rules, as described above. Korean, which commonly exhibits two different behaviors, allows breaks between any two consecutive Hangul/Hanja. For Ethiopic, which also exhibits two different behaviors, such breaks within words are not allowed.
Breaking is allowed within “words”: specifically, in addition to soft wrap opportunities allowed for normal, any typographic letter units (and any typographic character units resolving to the NU (“numeric”), AL (“alphabetic”), or SA (“Southeast Asian”) line breaking classes [UAX14]) are instead treated as ID (“ideographic characters”) for the purpose of line-breaking. Hyphenation is not applied.

Note: This value does not affect whether there are soft wrap opportunities around punctuation characters. To allow breaks anywhere, see line-break: anywhere.

Note: This option enables the other common behavior for Ethiopic. It is also often used in a context where the text consists predominantly of CJK characters with only short non-CJK excerpts, and it is desired that the text be better distributed on each line.

Breaking is forbidden within “words”: implicit soft wrap opportunities between typographic letter units (or other typographic character units belonging to the NU, AL, AI, or ID Unicode line breaking classes [UAX14]) are suppressed, i.e. breaks are prohibited between pairs of such characters (regardless of line-break settings other than anywhere) except where opportunities exist due to dictionary-based breaking. Otherwise this option is equivalent to normal. In this style, sequences of CJK characters do not break.

Note: This is the other common behavior for Korean (which uses spaces between words), and is also useful for mixed-script text where CJK snippets are mixed into another language that uses spaces for separation.

Symbols that line-break the same way as letters of a particular category are affected the same way as those letters.

Here’s a mixed-script sample text:

这是一些汉字 and some Latin و کمی خط عربی และตัวอย่างการเขียนภาษาไทย በጽሑፍ፡ማራዘሙን፡አንዳንድ፡

The break-points are determined as follows (indicated by ‘·’):

word-break: normal
word-break: break-all
word-break: keep-all

Japanese is usually typeset allowing line breaks within words. However, it is sometimes preferred to suppress these wrapping opportunities and to only allow wrapping at the end of certain sentence fragments. This is most commonly done in very short pieces of text, such as headings and table or figure captions.

This can be achieved by marking the allowed wrapping points with wbr or U+200B ZERO WIDTH SPACE, and suppressing the other ones using word-break: keep-all.

For instance, the following markup can produce either of the renderings below, depending on the value of the word-break property:

h1 { word-break: normal } h1 { word-break: keep-all }
Expected rendering
Result in your browser 窓ぎわのトットちゃん 窓ぎわのトットちゃん

When shaping scripts such as Arabic are allowed to break within words due to break-all the characters must still be shaped as if the word were not broken (see § 5.6 Shaping Across Intra-word Breaks).

For compatibility with legacy content, the word-break property also supports a deprecated break-word keyword. When specified, this has the same effect as word-break: normal and overflow-wrap: anywhere, regardless of the actual value of the overflow-wrap property.

5.3. Line Breaking Strictness: the line-break property

Name: line-break
Value: auto | loose | normal | strict | anywhere
Initial: auto
Applies to: text
Inherited: yes
Percentages: n/a
Computed value: specified keyword
Canonical order: n/a
Animation type: discrete

This property specifies the strictness of line-breaking rules applied within an element: especially how wrapping interacts with punctuation and symbols. Values have the following meanings:

The UA determines the set of line-breaking restrictions to use, and it may vary the restrictions based on the length of the line; e.g., use a less restrictive set of line-break rules for short lines.
Breaks text using the least restrictive set of line-breaking rules. Typically used for short lines, such as in newspapers.
Breaks text using the most common set of line-breaking rules.
Breaks text using the most stringent set of line-breaking rules.
There is a soft wrap opportunity around every typographic character unit, including around any punctuation character or preserved white spaces, or in the middle of words, disregarding any prohibition against line breaks, even those introduced by characters with the GL, WJ, or ZWJ character class (see [UAX14]) or mandated by the word-break property. The different wrapping opportunities must not be prioritized. Hyphenation is not applied.

Note: This value triggers the line breaking rules typically seen in terminals.

Note: anywhere only allows preserved white spaces at the end of the line to be wrapped to the next line when white-space is set to break-spaces, because in other cases:

When it does have an effect on preserved white space, with white-space: break-spaces, it allows breaking before the first space of a sequence, which break-spaces on its own does not.

CSS distinguishes between four levels of strictness in the rules for text wrapping. The precise set of rules in effect for each of loose, normal, and strict is up to the UA and should follow language conventions. However, this specification does require that:

Note: The requirements listed above only create distinctions in CJK text. In an implementation that matches only the rules above, and no additional rules, line-break would only affect CJK code points unless the writing system is tagged as Chinese or Japanese. Future levels may add additional specific rules for other writing systems and languages as their requirements become known.

As UAs can add additional distinctions between strict/normal/loose modes, these values can exhibit differences in other writing systems as well. For example, a UA with sufficiently-advanced Thai language processing ability could choose to map different levels of strictness in Thai line-breaking to these keywords, e.g. disallowing breaks within compound words in strict mode (e.g. breaking ตัวอย่างการเขียนภาษาไทย as ตัวอย่าง·การเขียน·ภาษาไทย) while allowing more breaks in loose (ตัวอย่าง·การ·เขียน·ภาษา·ไทย).

Note: The CSSWG recognizes that in a future edition of the specification finer control over line breaking may be necessary to satisfy high-end publishing requirements.

5.4. Hyphenation: the hyphens property

Hyphenation is the controlled splitting of words where they usually would not be allowed to break to improve the layout of paragraphs, typically splitting words at syllabic or morphemic boundaries, and visually indicating the split (usually by inserting a hyphen, U+2010). In some cases, hyphenation may also alter the spelling of a word. Regardless, hyphenation is a rendering effect only: it must have no effect on the underlying document content or on text selection or searching.

Hyphenation occurs when the line breaks at a valid hyphenation opportunity, which is a type of soft wrap opportunity that exists within a word where hyphenation is allowed. In CSS hyphenation opportunities are controlled with the hyphens property. CSS Text Level 3 does not define the exact rules for hyphenation; however UAs are strongly encouraged to optimize their choice of break points and to chose language-appropriate hyphenation points.

Note: The soft wrap opportunity introduced by the U+002D HYPHEN-MINUS character or the U+2010 HYPHEN character is not a hyphenation opportunity, as no visual indication of the split is created when wrapping: these characters are visible whether the line is wrapped at that point or not.

Hyphenation opportunities are considered when calculating min-content intrinsic sizes.

Name: hyphens
Value: none | manual | auto
Initial: manual
Applies to: text
Inherited: yes
Percentages: n/a
Computed value: specified keyword
Canonical order: n/a
Animation type: discrete

This property controls whether hyphenation is allowed to create more soft wrap opportunities within a line of text. Values have the following meanings:

Words are not hyphenated, even if characters inside the word explicitly define hyphenation opportunities.

Note: This does not suppress the existing soft wrap opportunities introduced by always visible characters such as U+002D HYPHEN-MINUS or U+2010 HYPHEN.

Words are only hyphenated where there are characters inside the word that explicitly suggest hyphenation opportunities.

In Unicode, U+00AD is a conditional "soft hyphen" and U+2010 is an unconditional hyphen. Unicode Standard Annex #14 describes the role of soft hyphens in Unicode line breaking. [UAX14] In HTML, &shy; represents the soft hyphen character, which suggests a hyphenation opportunity.

Words may be broken at hyphenation opportunities determined automatically by a language-appropriate hyphenation resource in addition to those indicated explicitly by a conditional hyphen. Automatic hyphenation opportunities within a word must be ignored if the word contains a conditional hyphen (&shy; or U+00AD), in favor of the conditional hyphen(s). However, if, even after breaking at such opportunities, a portion of that word is still too long to fit on one line, an automatic hyphenation opportunity may be used.

Correct automatic hyphenation requires a hyphenation resource appropriate to the language of the text being broken. The UA must therefore only automatically hyphenate text for which the content language is known and for which it has an appropriate hyphenation resource.

Authors should correctly tag their content’s language (e.g. using the HTML lang attribute or XML xml:lang attribute) in order to obtain correct automatic hyphenation.

The UA may use language-tailored heuristics to exclude certain words from automatic hyphenation. For example, a UA might try to avoid hyphenation in proper nouns by excluding words matching certain capitalization and punctuation patterns. Such heuristics are not defined by this specification. (Note that such heuristics will need to vary by language: English and German, for example, have very different capitalization conventions.)

For the purpose of the hyphens property, what constitutes a “word” is UA-dependent. However, inline element boundaries and out-of-flow elements must be ignored when determining word boundaries.

Any glyph(s) shown due to hyphenation at a hyphenation opportunity created by a conditional hyphen character (such as U+00AD SOFT HYPHEN) are represented by that character and are styled according to the properties applied to it.

When shaping scripts such as Arabic are allowed to break within words due to hyphenation, the characters must still be shaped as if the word were not broken (see § 5.6 Shaping Across Intra-word Breaks).

For example, if the Uyghur word “داميدى” were hyphenated, it would appear as [isolated DAL + isolated ALEF + initial MEEM + medial YEH + hyphen + line-break + final DAL + isolated ALEF MAKSURA] not as [isolated DAL + isolated ALEF + initial MEEM + final YEH + hyphen + line-break + isolated DAL + isolated ALEF MAKSURA]

5.5. Overflow Wrapping: the overflow-wrap/word-wrap property

Name: overflow-wrap, word-wrap
Value: normal | break-word | anywhere
Initial: normal
Applies to: text
Inherited: yes
Percentages: n/a
Computed value: specified keyword
Canonical order: n/a
Animation type: discrete

This property specifies whether the UA may break at otherwise disallowed points within a line to prevent overflow, when an otherwise-unbreakable string is too long to fit within the line box. It only has an effect when white-space allows wrapping. Possible values:

Lines may break only at allowed break points. However, the restrictions introduced by word-break: keep-all may be relaxed to match word-break: normal if there are no otherwise-acceptable break points in the line.
An otherwise unbreakable sequence of characters may be broken at an arbitrary point if there are no otherwise-acceptable break points in the line. Shaping characters are still shaped as if the word were not broken, and grapheme clusters must stay together as one unit. No hyphenation character is inserted at the break point. Soft wrap opportunities introduced by anywhere are considered when calculating min-content intrinsic sizes.
As for anywhere except that soft wrap opportunities introduced by break-word are not considered when calculating min-content intrinsic sizes.

For legacy reasons, UAs must treat word-wrap as a legacy name alias of the overflow-wrap property.

5.6. Shaping Across Intra-word Breaks

When shaping scripts such as Arabic wrap at unforced soft wrap opportunities within words (such as when breaking due to word-break: break-all, line-break: anywhere, overflow-wrap: break-word, overflow-wrap: anywhere, or when hyphenating) the characters must still be shaped (their joining forms chosen) as if the word were still whole.

For example, if the word “نوشتن” is broken between the “ش” and “ت”, the “ش” still takes its initial form (“ﺷ”), and the “ت” its medial form (“ﺘ”)—forming as in “ﻧﻮﺷ | ﺘﻦ”, not as in “نوش | تن”.

6. Alignment and Justification

Alignment and justification controls how inline content is distributed within a line box.

6.1. Text Alignment: the text-align shorthand

Name: text-align
Value: start | end | left | right | center | justify | match-parent | justify-all
Initial: start
Applies to: block containers
Inherited: yes
Percentages: see individual properties
Computed value: see individual properties
Animation type: discrete
Canonical order: n/a

This shorthand property sets the text-align-all and text-align-last properties and describes how the inline-level content of a block is aligned along the inline axis if the content does not completely fill the line box. Values other than justify-all or match-parent are assigned to text-align-all and reset text-align-last to auto.

Values have the following meanings:

Inline-level content is aligned to the start edge of the line box.
Inline-level content is aligned to the end edge of the line box.
Inline-level content is aligned to the line left edge of the line box. (In vertical writing modes, this will be either the physical top or bottom, depending on text-orientation.) [CSS-WRITING-MODES-3]
Inline-level content is aligned to the line right edge of the line box. (In vertical writing modes, this will be either the physical top or bottom, depending on text-orientation.) [CSS-WRITING-MODES-3]
Inline-level content is centered within the line box.
Text is justified according to the method specified by the text-justify property, in order to exactly fill the line box. Unless otherwise specified by text-align-last, the last line before a forced break or the end of the block is start-aligned.
Sets both text-align-all and text-align-last to justify, forcing the last line to justify as well.
This value behaves the same as inherit (computes to its parent’s computed value) except that an inherited value of start or end is interpreted against the parent’s (or the initial containing block’s, if there is no parent) direction value and results in a computed value of either left or right. When specified on the text-align shorthand, sets both text-align-all and text-align-last to match-parent.

A block of text is a stack of line boxes. This property specifies how the inline-level boxes within each line box align with respect to the start and end sides of the line box. Alignment is not with respect to the viewport or containing block.

In the case of justify, the UA may stretch or shrink any inline boxes by adjusting their text. (See text-justify.) If an element’s white space is not collapsible, then the UA is not required to adjust its text for the purpose of justification and may instead treat the text as having no justification opportunities. If the UA chooses to adjust the text, then it must ensure that tab stops continue to line up as required by the white space processing rules.

If (after justification, if any) the inline contents of a line box are too long to fit within it, then the contents are start-aligned: any content that doesn’t fit overflows the line box’s end edge.

See Bidirectionality and line boxes for details on how to determine the start and end edges of a line box.

6.2. Default Text Alignment: the text-align-all property

Name: text-align-all
Value: start | end | left | right | center | justify | match-parent
Initial: start
Applies to: block containers
Inherited: yes
Percentages: n/a
Computed value: keyword as specified, except for match-parent which computes as defined above
Canonical order: n/a
Animation type: discrete

This longhand of the text-align shorthand property specifies the inline alignment of all lines of inline content in the block container, except for last lines overridden by a non-auto value of text-align-last. See text-align for a full description of values.

Authors should use the text-align shorthand instead of this property.

6.3. Last Line Alignment: the text-align-last property

Name: text-align-last
Value: auto | start | end | left | right | center | justify | match-parent
Initial: auto
Applies to: block containers
Inherited: yes
Percentages: n/a
Computed value: specified keyword
Canonical order: n/a
Animation type: discrete

This property describes how the last line of a block or a line right before a forced line break is aligned.

If auto is specified, content on the affected line is aligned per text-align-all unless text-align-all is set to justify, in which case it is start-aligned. All other values are interpreted as described for text-align.

6.4. Justification Method: the text-justify property

Name: text-justify
Value: auto | none | inter-word | inter-character
Initial: auto
Applies to: text
Inherited: yes
Percentages: n/a
Computed value: specified keyword
Canonical order: n/a
Animation type: discrete

This property selects the justification method used when a line’s alignment is set to justify (see text-align). The property applies to inlines, but is inherited from block containers to the root inline box containing their inline-level contents. It takes the following values:

The UA determines the justification algorithm to follow, based on a balance between performance and adequate presentation quality. Since justification rules vary by writing system and language, UAs should, where possible, use a justification algorithm appropriate to the text.

For example, the UA could use by default a justification method that is a simple universal compromise for all writing systems—such as primarily expanding word separators and between CJK typographic letter units along with secondarily expanding between Southeast Asian typographic letter units. Then, in cases where the content language of the paragraph is known, it could choose a more language-tailored justification behavior e.g. following [JLREQ] for Japanese, using cursive elongation for Arabic, using inter-word for German, etc.

Two lines of calligraphic Arabic end together due to a mix of compressed and swash forms.

An example of cursively-justified Arabic text, rendered by Tasmeem. Like English, Arabic can be justified by adjusting the spacing between words, but in most styles it can also be justified by calligraphically elongating or compressing the letterforms themselves. In this example, the upper text is extended to fill the line by the use of elongated (kashida) forms and swash forms, while the bottom line is compressed slightly by using a stacked combination for the characters between ت and م. By employing traditional calligraphic techniques, a typesetter can justify the line while preserving flow and color, providing a very high quality justification effect. However, this is by its nature a very script-specific effect.

Extra space is partly to spaces and partly among CJK and Thai letters.

Mixed-script text with text-justify: auto: this interpretation uses a universal-compromise justification method, expanding at spaces as well as between CJK and Southeast Asian letters. This effectively uses inter-word + inter-ideograph spacing for lines that have word-separators and/or CJK characters and falls back to inter-cluster behavior for lines that don’t or for which the space stretches too far.

Justification is disabled: there are no justification opportunities within the text.

No extra space is inserted.

Mixed-script text with text-justify: none

Note: This value is intended for use in user stylesheets to improve readability or for accessibility purposes.

Justification adjusts spacing at word separators only (effectively varying the used word-spacing on the line). This behavior is typical for languages that separate words using spaces, like English or Korean.

Extra space is equally distributed mainly to spaces.

Mixed-script text with text-justify: inter-word

Justification adjusts spacing between each pair of adjacent typographic character units (effectively varying the used letter-spacing on the line). This value is sometimes used in East Asian systems such as Japanese.

Extra space is equally distributed at points between spaces and letters of all writing systems.

Mixed-script text with text-justify: inter-character

For legacy reasons, UAs must also support the alternate keyword distribute with the exact same meaning and behavior.

Since optimal justification is language-sensitive, authors should correctly language-tag their content for the best results.

Note: The guidelines in this level of CSS do not describe a complete justification algorithm. They are merely a minimum set of requirements that a complete algorithm should meet. Limiting the set of requirements gives UAs some latitude in choosing a justification algorithm that meets their needs and desired balance of quality, speed, and complexity.

6.4.1. Expanding and Compressing Text

When justifying text, the user agent takes the remaining space between the ends of a line’s contents and the edges of its line box, and distributes that space throughout its contents so that the contents exactly fill the line box. The user agent may alternatively distribute negative space, putting more content on the line than would otherwise fit under normal spacing conditions.

A justification opportunity is a point where the justification algorithm may alter spacing within the text. A justification opportunity can be provided by a single typographic character unit (such as a word separator), or by the juxtaposition of two typographic character units. As with controls for soft wrap opportunities, whether a typographic character unit provides a justification opportunity is controlled by the text-justify value of its parent; similarly, whether a justification opportunity exists between two consecutive typographic character units is determined by the text-justify value of their nearest common ancestor.

Space distributed by justification is in addition to the spacing defined by the letter-spacing or word-spacing properties. When such additional space is distributed to a word separator justification opportunity, it is applied under the same rules as for word-spacing. Similarly, when space is distributed to an justification opportunity between two typographic character units, should be applied under the same rules as for letter-spacing.

A justification algorithm may divide justification opportunities into different priority levels. All justification opportunities within a given level are expanded or compressed at the same priority, regardless of which typographic character units created that opportunity. For example, if justification opportunities between two Han characters and between two Latin letters are defined to be at the same level (as they are in the inter-character justification style), they are not treated differently because they originate from different typographic character units. It is not defined in this level whether or how other factors (such as font size, letter-spacing, glyph shape, position within the line, etc.) may influence the distribution of space to justification opportunities within the line.

The UA may enable or break optional ligatures or use other font features such as alternate glyphs or glyph compression to help justify the text under any method. This behavior is not controlled by this level of CSS. However, UAs must not break required ligatures or otherwise disable features required to correctly shape complex scripts.

If a justification opportunity exists within a line, and text alignment specifies full justification (justify) for that line, it must be justified.

6.4.2. Handling Symbols and Punctuation

When determining justification opportunities, a typographic character unit from the Unicode Symbols (S*) and Punctuation (P*) classes is generally treated the same as a typographic letter unit of the same script (or, if the character’s script property is Common, then as a typographic letter unit of the dominant script).

However, by typographic tradition there may be additional rules controlling the justification of symbols and punctuation. Therefore, the UA may reassign specific characters or introduce additional levels of prioritization to handle justification opportunities involving symbols and punctuation.

For example, there are traditionally no justification opportunities between consecutive U+2014 Em Dash ‘—’, U+2015 Horizontal Bar ‘―’, U+2026 Horizontal Ellipsis ‘…’, or U+2025 Two Dot Leader ‘‥’ characters [JLREQ]; thus a UA might assign these characters to a “never” prioritization level. As another example, certain fullwidth punctuation characters (such as U+301A Left White Square Bracket ‘〚’) are considered to contain a justification opportunity in Japanese. The UA might therefore assign these characters to a higher prioritization level than the opportunities between ideographic characters.

6.4.3. Unexpandable Text

If the inline contents of a line cannot be stretched to the full width of the line box, then they must be aligned as specified by the text-align-last property. (If text-align-last is justify, then they must be aligned as for center.)

6.4.4. Cursive Scripts

Justification must not introduce gaps between the joined typographic letter units of cursive scripts such as Arabic. If it is able, the UA may translate space distributed to justification opportunities within a run of such typographic letter units into some form of cursive elongation for that run. It otherwise must assume that no justification opportunity exists between any pair of typographic letter units in cursive script (regardless of whether they join).

The following are examples of unacceptable justification:

Adding gaps between every pair of Arabic letters

Adding gaps between every pair of unjoined Arabic letters

Some font designs allow for the use of the tatweel character for justification. A UA that performs tatweel-based justification must properly handle the rules for its use. Note that correct insertion of tatweel characters depends on context, including the letter-combinations involved, location within the word, and location of the word within the line.

6.4.5. Minimum Requirements for auto Justification

For auto justification, this specification does not define what all of the justification opportunities are, how they are prioritized, or when and how multiple levels of justification opportunities interact. However, it does require that

Further information on text justification can be found in (or submitted to) “Approaches to Full Justification”, which indexes by writing system and language, and is maintained by the W3C Internationalization Working Group. [JUSTIFY]

7. Spacing

CSS offers control over text spacing via the word-spacing and letter-spacing properties, which specify additional space around word separators or between typographic character units, respectively.

7.1. Word Spacing: the word-spacing property

Name: word-spacing
Value: normal | <length>
Initial: normal
Applies to: text
Inherited: yes
Percentages: N/A
Computed value: an absolute length
Canonical order: n/a
Animation type: by computed value type

This property specifies additional spacing between “words”. Missing values are assumed to be word-spacing:normal. Values are interpreted as defined below:

No additional spacing is applied. Computes to zero.
Specifies extra spacing in addition to the intrinsic inter-word spacing defined by the font.

Additional spacing is applied to each word separator left in the text after the white space processing rules have been applied, and should be applied half on each side of the character unless otherwise dictated by typographic tradition. Values may be negative, but there may be implementation-dependent limits.

Word-separator characters are typographic character units whose primary purpose and general usage is to separate words. In [UNICODE] this includes (but is not exhaustively defined as) the space (U+0020), the no-break space (U+00A0), the Ethiopic word space (U+1361), the Aegean word separators (U+10100,U+10101), the Ugaritic word divider (U+1039F), and the Phoenician Word Separator (U+1091F).

Note: Neither punctuation in general, nor fixed-width spaces (such as U+3000 and U+2000 through U+200A), are considered word-separator characters, because even though they frequently happen to separate words, their primary purpose is not to separate words.

If there are no word-separator characters, or if a word-separating character has a zero advance width (such as the zero width space U+200B) then the user agent must not create an additional spacing between words.

7.2. Tracking: the letter-spacing property

Name: letter-spacing
Value: normal | <length>
Initial: normal
Applies to: inline boxes and text
Inherited: yes
Percentages: n/a
Computed value: an absolute length
Canonical order: n/a
Animation type: by computed value type

This property specifies additional spacing (commonly called tracking) between adjacent typographic character units. Letter-spacing is applied after bidi reordering [CSS-WRITING-MODES-3] and is in addition to kerning [CSS-FONTS-3] and word-spacing. Depending on the justification rules in effect, user agents may further increase or decrease the space between typographic character units in order to justify text.

Values have the following meanings:

No additional spacing is applied. Computes to zero.
Specifies additional spacing between typographic character units. Values may be negative, but there may be implementation-dependent limits.

For legacy reasons, a computed letter-spacing of zero yields a resolved value (getComputedStyle() return value) of normal.

For the purpose of letter-spacing, each consecutive run of atomic inlines (such as images and inline blocks) is treated as a single typographic character unit.

Letter-spacing must not be applied at the beginning of a line. Whether letter-spacing is applied at the end of a line is undefined in this level.

When letter-spacing is not applied at the beginning or end of a line, text always fits flush with the edge of the block.

p    { letter-spacing: 1em; }


a b c

a b c

UAs therefore really should not [RFC6919] append letter spacing to the right or trailing edge of a line:

a b c 

Letter spacing between two typographic character units effectively “belongs” to the innermost element that contains the two typographic character units: the total letter spacing between two adjacent typographic character units (after bidi reordering) is specified by and rendered within the innermost element that contains the boundary between the two typographic character units. However, the UA may instead attach letter-spacing at element boundaries to one or the other typographic character unit using the letter-spacing value pertaining to its containing element.

Note: This secondary behavior is permitted in this level due to Web-compat concerns.

An inline box is expected to only include letter spacing between characters completely contained within that element, thus excluding letter spacing on the right or trailing edge of the element:

p    { letter-spacing: 1em; }


a b b c

a b b c

Consequently a given value of letter-spacing is expected to only affect the spacing between characters completely contained within the element for which it is specified:

p    { letter-spacing: 1em; }
span { letter-spacing: 2em; }


a b  b c

This further implies that applying letter-spacing to an element containing only a single character has no effect on the rendered result:

p    { letter-spacing: 1em; }
span { letter-spacing: 2em; }


a b c

Since letter spacing is inserted after RTL reordering, the letter spacing applied to the inner span below likewise has no effect, since after reordering the "c" doesn’t end up next to "א":

p    { letter-spacing: 1em; }
span { letter-spacing: 2em; }

<!-- abc followed by Hebrew letters alef (א), bet (ב) and gimel (ג) -->
<!-- Reordering will display these in reverse order. -->

a b c א ב ג

Letter spacing ignores invisible zero-width formatting characters (such as those from the Unicode Cf category). Spacing must be added as if those characters did not exist in the document.

For example, letter-spacing applied to A&#x200B;B is identical to AB, regardless of where any element boundaries might fall.

When the effective spacing between two characters is not zero (due to either justification or a non-zero value of letter-spacing), user agents should not apply optional ligatures, i.e. those that are not defined as required for fundamentally correct glyph shaping. However, ligatures and other font features specified via the low-level font-feature-settings property take precedence over this rule. See CSS Fonts 3 §7.2 Feature precedence.

For example, if the word “filial” is letter-spaced, an “fi” ligature should not be used as it will prevent even spacing of the text.

filial vs filial

Note: In OpenType, required ligatures are expected to be associated to the rlig feature. All other ligatures are therefore considered optional. In some cases, however, UA or platform heuristics apply additional ligatures in order to handle broken fonts; this specification does not define or override such exceptional handling.

7.2.1. Cursive Scripts

If it is able, the UA may apply letter spacing to cursive scripts by translating the total extra space to be distributed to a run of such letters into some form of cursive elongation (or compression, for negative tracking values) for that run that results in an equivalent total expansion (or compression) of the run. Otherwise, if the UA cannot expand text from a cursive script without breaking its cursive connections, it must not apply spacing between any pair of that script’s typographic letter units at all (effectively treating each word as a single typographic letter unit for the purpose of letter-spacing). Both cases will result in an effective spacing of zero between such letters; however the former will preserve the sense of stretching out the text.

Below are some appropriate and inappropriate examples of spacing out Arabic text.

Original text
BAD Even distribution of space between each letter. Notice this breaks cursive joins!
OK Distributing ∑letter-spacing by typographically-appropriate cursive elongation. The resulting text is as long as the previous evenly-spaced example.
OK Suppressing letter-spacing between Arabic letters. Notice letter-spacing is nonetheless applied to non-Arabic characters (like spaces).
BAD Applying letter-spacing only between non-joined letters. This distorts typographic color and obfuscates word boundaries.
Note: Proper cursive elongation or compression of a text can vary depending on the script, typeface, language, location within a word, location within a line, implementation complexity, font capabilities, and calligraphic preferences, and may not be possible in certain cases at all. It may involve the use of shortening ligatures, swash variants, contextual forms, elongation glyphs such as U+0640 ARABIC TATWEEL, or other microtypography. It is outside the scope of CSS to define rules for these effects. Authors should avoid applying letter-spacing to cursive scripts unless they are prepared to accept non-interoperable results.

7.3. Shaping Across Element Boundaries

Text shaping must be broken at inline box boundaries when any of the following are true for any box whose boundary separates the two typographic character units:

Text shaping must not be broken across inline box boundaries when there is no effective change in formatting, or if the only formatting changes do not affect the glyphs (as in applying text decoration).

Text shaping should not be broken across inline box boundaries otherwise, if it is reasonable and possible for that case given the limitations of the font technology.

An example of reasonable and possible shaping across boundaries is Arabic shaping: in many systems this is performed by the font engine, allowing the font to provide variant glyphs with potentially very sophisticated contextual shaping. It’s not generally possible to rely on this system across a font change unless the font engine has an API to provide context, but it is straightforward and therefore quite reasonable for an engine to work around this limitation by, for example, using the zero-width-joiner (U+200D) or zero-width-non-joiner (U+200C) as appropriate to solicit the correct choice of initial/medial/final/isolated glyph.

An example of possible but not reasonable shaping across boundaries is handling a font that is sensitive to 20 characters of context on either side to choose its glyphs: passing all the text before and after the string in question, even through multiple inline boundaries with formatting changes, is complicated. The UA could handle such cases, but is not required to, as they are not typical or fundamentally required by any modern writing system.

An example of impossible shaping across boundaries is a change in font weight partway through the word “and” in a font where a ligature would replace all three letters of the word “and” with an ampersand glyph (“&”).

8. Edge Effects

Edge effects control the indentation of lines with respect to other lines in the block (text-indent) and how content is measured at the start and end edges of a line (hanging-punctuation).

8.1. First Line Indentation: the text-indent property

Name: text-indent
Value: [ <length-percentage> ] && hanging? && each-line?
Initial: 0
Applies to: block containers
Inherited: yes
Percentages: refers to block container’s own inline-axis inner size
Computed value: computed <length-percentage> value, plus any specified keywords
Canonical order: per grammar
Animation type: by computed value type

This property specifies the indentation applied to lines of inline content in a block. The indent is treated as a margin applied to the start edge of the line box.

Unless otherwise specified by the each-line and/or hanging keywords, only lines that are the first formatted line [CSS2] of an element are affected. For example, the first line of an anonymous block box is only affected if it is the first child of its parent element.

Values have the following meanings:

Gives the amount of the indent as an absolute length.
Gives the amount of the indent as a percentage of the block container’s own logical width

Percentages must be treated as 0 for the purpose of calculating intrinsic size contributions, but are always resolved normally when performing layout.

Note: This can lead to the element overflowing. It is not recommended to use percentage indents and intrinsic sizing together.

Indentation affects the first line of each block container and each line after a forced line break (but not lines after a soft wrap break).
Inverts which lines are affected.

If text-align is start and text-indent is 5em in left-to-right text with no floats present, then first line of text will start 5em into the block:

     Since CSS1 it has been possible to
indent the first line of a block element
5em by setting the 'text-indent' property 
to '5em'.

If we add the hanging keyword, then the first line will start flush, but other lines will be indented 5em:

In CSS3 we can instead indent all other
     lines of the block element by 5em
     by setting the 'text-indent' property
     to 'hanging 5em'.

Since the text-indent property only affects the “first formatted line”, a line after a forced break will not be indented.

   For example, in the middle of
this paragraph is an equation,
which is centered:
             x + y = z
The first line after the equation
is flush (else it would look like
we started a new paragraph).

However, sometimes (as in poetry or code), it is appropriate to indent each line that happens to be long enough to wrap. In the following example, text-indent is given a value of 3em hanging each-line, giving the third line of the poem a hanging indent where it soft-wraps at the block’s right boundary:

In a short line of text
There need be no wrapping,
But when we go on and on and on  
   and on,
Sometimes a soft break
Can help us stay on the page.

Note: Since the text-indent property inherits, when specified on a block element, it will affect descendant inline-block elements. For this reason, it is often wise to specify 'text-indent: 0' on elements that are specified 'display: inline-block'.

8.2. Hanging Glyphs

When a glyph at the start or end edge of a line hangs, it is not considered when measuring the line’s contents for fit, alignment, or justification. Depending on the line’s alignment/justification, this can result in the mark being placed outside the line box. The hanging glyph is also not taken into account when computing intrinsic sizes (min-content size and max-content size), and any sizes derived thereof. (The interaction of this measurement and kerning is currently UA-defined; the CSSWG welcomes advice on this point.)

A hanging glyph is still enclosed inside its parent inline box and still participates in text justification: its character advance is just not measured when determining how much content fits on the line, how much the line’s contents need to be expanded or compressed for justification, or how to position the content within the line box for text alignment. Effectively, the hanging glyph character advance is re-interpreted as an additional negative margin on the affected edge of its parent inline box; the line is otherwise laid out as usual. An overflowing hanging glyph should typically be considered ink overflow [CSS-OVERFLOW-3] so as to avoid creating unnecessary scrollbars, but the UA may treat it as scrollable overflow when the content is editable or in other circumstances where treating it as scrollable overflow would be useful to the user.

In some cases, a glyph at the end of a line can conditionally hang: it hangs only if it does not otherwise fit in the line prior to justification. It is not considered when measuring the line’s contents for fit; however, any part of it that does not fit is considered to hang. Glyphs that conditionally hang are not taken into account when computing min-content sizes and any sizes derived thereof, but they are taken into account for max-content sizes and any sizes derived thereof.

Non-zero inline-axis borders or padding between a hangable glyph and the edge of the line prevent the glyph from hanging. For example, a period at the end of an inline box with end padding does not hang at the end edge of a line.

Multiple adjacent glyphs can hang together, however there may be limits on how many are allowed to hang (e.g. at most one punctuation character may hang at each edge of the line).

8.2.1. Hanging Punctuation: the hanging-punctuation property

Name: hanging-punctuation
Value: none | [ first || [ force-end | allow-end ] || last ]
Initial: none
Applies to: text
Inherited: yes
Percentages: n/a
Computed value: specified keyword(s)
Canonical order: per grammar
Animation type: discrete

This property determines whether a punctuation mark, if one is present, hangs and may be placed outside the line box (or in the indent) at the start or at the end of a line of text.

Note: If there is not sufficient padding on the block container, hanging-punctuation can trigger overflow.

Values have the following meanings:

No punctuation character is made to hang.
An opening bracket or quote at the start of the first formatted line of an element hangs. This applies to all characters in the Unicode categories Ps, Pf, Pi plus the ASCII quote marks “'” U+0027 and “"” U+0022.
A closing bracket or quote at the end of the last formatted line of an element hangs. This applies to all characters in the Unicode categories Pe, Pf, Pi plus the ASCII quote marks “'” U+0027 and “"” U+0022.
A stop or comma at the end of a line hangs.
A stop or comma at the end of a line conditionally hangs.

At most one punctuation character may hang at each edge of the line.

Stops and commas allowed to hang include:

U+002C , COMMA

The UA may include other characters as appropriate.

Note: The CSS Working Group would appreciate if UAs including other characters would inform the working group of such additions.

The allow-end and force-end are two variations of hanging punctuation used in East Asia.

hanging-punctuation: allow-end
p {
  text-align: justify;
  hanging-punctuation: allow-end;
hanging-punctuation: force-end
p {
  text-align: justify;
  hanging-punctuation: force-end;

The punctuation at the end of the first line for allow-end does not hang, because it fits without hanging. However, if force-end is used, it is forced to hang. The justification measures the line without the hanging punctuation. Therefore when the line is expanded, the punctuation is pushed outside the line.

8.3. Bidirectionality and Line Boxes

The start and end sides of a line box are determined by the inline base direction of the line box. Although they usually match, the inline base direction of a line box is distinct from the inline base direction of the containing block or the bidi paragraph. The line box’s inline base direction affects text-align-all, text-align-last, text-indent, and hanging-punctuationi.e. the position and alignment of its contents with respect to its edges. It does not affect the formatting or ordering of inline content (which is controlled by the Unicode bidirectional algorithm as applied by [CSS-WRITING-MODES-3]).

In most cases, a line box’s inline base direction is given by its containing block's computed direction. However if its containing block has unicode-bidi: plaintext [CSS-WRITING-MODES-3]:

In the following example, assuming the <block> is a start-aligned preformatted block (display: block; white-space: pre; text-align: start), every other line is right-aligned:

<block style="unicode-bidi: plaintext">

Because neutral characters (such as punctuation) and isolated runs are skipped when finding the inline base direction of a plaintext bidi paragraph, the line box in the following example will be left-to-right (and thus left-aligned given text-align: start), as dictated by the first strong character, ‘h’:

<para style="display: block; direction: rtl; unicode-bidi:plaintext">
“<quote style="unicode-bidi:plaintext">שלום!</quote>”, he said.
<textarea style="direction: rtl; unicode-bidi:plaintext">



Because of unicode-bidi: plaintext, the “Hello!” is typeset LTR (i.e. with the exclamation mark on the right side) and left-aligned, ignoring the containing block’s RTL direction. This makes the empty line following it LTR as well, which means that a caret on that line should appear at its left edge. The empty first line, however, is right-aligned: having no preceding line, it assumes the RTL direction of its containing block.

Appendix A: Text Processing Order of Operations

The following list defines the order of text operations. (Implementations are not bound to this order as long as the resulting layout is the same.)

  1. white space processing part I (pre-wrapping)
  2. text transformation
  3. text combination
  4. text orientation [CSS-WRITING-MODES-3]
  5. text wrapping while applying per line:
  6. justification (which may affect glyph selection and/or text wrapping, looping back into that step)
  7. text alignment

Appendix B: Conversion to Plaintext

This appendix is normative for the purpose of plaintext copy-paste operations.

When a CSS-rendered document is converted to a plaintext format, it is expected that:

Appendix C: Default UA Stylesheet

This appendix is informative, and is to help UA developers to implement a default stylesheet for HTML, but UA developers are free to ignore or modify as appropriate.

/* make option elements align together */
option { text-align: match-parent; }

Appendix D: Scripts and Spacing

This appendix is normative.

Typographic behavior varies somewhat by language, but varies drastically by writing system. This appendix categorizes some common scripts in Unicode 6.0 according to their justification and spacing behavior. Category descriptions are descriptive, not prescriptive; the determining factor is the prioritization of justification opportunities.

block scripts
CJK and by extension all Wide characters (see [UAX11].) The following Unicode scripts are included: Bopomofo, Han, Hangul, Hiragana, Katakana, and Yi. Characters of the East Asian Width property Wide and Fullwidth are also included, but Ambiguous characters are included only if the writing system is Chinese, Korean, or Japanese.
clustered scripts
Clustered scripts have discrete units and break only at word boundaries, but do not use visible word separators. They prioritize stretching spaces, but comfortably admit inter-character spacing for justification. The clustered scripts include, but are not limited to, the following Unicode scripts: Khmer, Lao, Myanmar, New Tai Lue, Tai Le, Tai Tham, Tai Viet, Thai
cursive scripts
Cursive scripts do not admit gaps between their letters for either justification or letter-spacing. The following Unicode scripts are included: Arabic, Mandaic, Mongolian, N’Ko, Phags Pa, Syriac

Note: Indic scripts with baseline connectors (such as Devanagari and Gujarati) are not considered cursive scripts, and do admit such gaps between typographic character units. See [ILREQ].

User agents should update this list as they update their Unicode support to handle as-yet-unencoded cursive scripts in future versions of Unicode, and are encouraged to ask the CSSWG to update this spec accordingly.

Appendix E. Characters and Properties

Unicode defines four code point-level properties that are referenced in CSS typesetting:

East Asian width property
Defined in [UAX11] and given as the East_Asian_Width property in the Unicode Character Database [UAX44].
general category
Defined in [UAX44] and given as the General_Category property in the Unicode Character Database [UAX44].
script property
Defined in [UAX24] and given as the Script property in the Unicode Character Database [UAX44]. (UAs must include any ScriptExtensions.txt assignments in this mapping.)
Vertical Orientation
Defined in [UTR50] as the Vertical_Orientation property and given in the UTR50 data file.

Unicode defines properties for individual code points, but sometimes it is necessary to determine the properties of a typographic character unit. For the purposes of CSS Text, the properties of a typographic character unit are given by the base character of its first grapheme cluster—except in two cases:

Appendix F. Identifying the Content Writing System

This appendix is normative.

While most languages have a preferred writing system, some have multiple, and most can also be transcribed into one or more foreign writing systems. As a common example, most languages have at least one Latin transcription, and can thus be written in the Latin writing system. Transcribed texts typically adopt the typographic conventions of the writing system: for example Japanese “romaji” and Chinese Pinyin use Latin letters and word spaces, and follow Latin line-breaking and justification practices accordingly. As another example, historical ideographic Korean (ko-Hani) does not use word spaces, and should therefore be typeset similar to Chinese rather than modern Korean.

In [HTML] or any other document language using [BCP47] to declare the content language, authors can disambiguate or indicate the use of an atypical writing system with script subtags. For example, to indicate use of the Latin writing system for languages which don’t natively use it, the -Latn script subtag can be added, e.g. ja-Latn for Japanese romaji. Other subtags exist for other writing systems, see [ISO15924] and the ISO15924 script tag registry.

Some common/historical examples of using [BCP47] tags with script subtags:
Chinese, written in Latin transcription.
Korean, written in Hanja (Chinese ideographic characters).
Turkish, written in Arabic script.
Mongolian, written in Cyrillic.
Mongolian, written in traditional Mongolian script.

However, [BCP47] script subtags are not typically used (and are in fact discouraged) for languages strongly associated with a single writing system: instead that writing system is expected to be implied when no other is specified. IANA maintains a database of various languages’ most common writing system via the Suppress-Script field in its language subtag registry for this purpose.

Note: More advice on language tagging can be found in the Internationalization Working Group’s “Language tags in HTML and XML” and “Choosing a Language Tag”.

When no writing system is explicitly indicated, UAs should assume the most common writing system of the declared content language for language-sensitive typographic behaviors such as line-breaking or justification. However, UAs must not assume that writing system if the author has explicitly declared a different one. If the UA has no language-specific knowledge of a particular language and writing system combination, it must use the typographic conventions of the declared writing system (assuming the conventions of a different language if necessary), not the conventions of the declared language in an assumed writing system, which would be inappropriate to the declared writing system.

The full correspondence between languages and their most common writing systems is out of scope for this document. However, User Agents must assume at least the following:

Appendix G. Small Kana Mappings

Small Kana Map to Full-size Kana
Small Full-size
ぁ U+3041 あ U+3042
ぃ U+3043 い U+3044
ぅ U+3045 う U+3046
ぇ U+3047 え U+3048
ぉ U+3049 お U+304A
ゕ U+3095 か U+304B
ゖ U+3096 け U+3051
っ U+3063 つ U+3064
ゃ U+3083 や U+3084
ゅ U+3085 ゆ U+3086
ょ U+3087 よ U+3088
ゎ U+308E わ U+308F
ァ U+30A1 ア U+30A2
ィ U+30A3 イ U+30A4
ゥ U+30A5 ウ U+30A6
ェ U+30A7 エ U+30A8
ォ U+30A9 オ U+30AA
ヵ U+30F5 カ U+30AB
ㇰ U+31F0 ク U+30AF
ヶ U+30F6 ケ U+30B1
ㇱ U+31F1 シ U+30B7
ㇲ U+31F2 ス U+30B9
ッ U+30C3 ツ U+30C4
ㇳ U+31F3 ト U+30C8
ㇴ U+31F4 ヌ U+30CC
ㇵ U+31F5 ハ U+30CF
ㇶ U+31F6 ヒ U+30D2
ㇷ U+31F7 フ U+30D5
ㇸ U+31F8 ヘ U+30D8
ㇹ U+31F9 ホ U+30DB
ㇺ U+31FA ム U+30E0
ャ U+30E3 ヤ U+30E4
ュ U+30E5 ユ U+30E6
ョ U+30E7 ヨ U+30E8
ㇻ U+31FB ラ U+30E9
ㇼ U+31FC リ U+30EA
ㇽ U+31FD ル U+30EB
ㇾ U+31FE レ U+30EC
ㇿ U+31FF ロ U+30ED
ヮ U+30EE ワ U+30EF
ァ U+FF67 ア U+FF71
ィ U+FF68 イ U+FF72
ゥ U+FF69 ウ U+FF73
ェ U+FF6A エ U+FF74
ォ U+FF6B オ U+FF75
ッ U+FF6F ツ U+FF82
ャ U+FF6C ヤ U+FF94
ュ U+FF6D ユ U+FF95
ョ U+FF6E ヨ U+FF96

Privacy and Security Considerations

This specification introduces no new security considerations.

This specification leaks the user’s installed hyphenation and line-breaking dictionaries.


This specification would not have been possible without the help from: Ayman Aldahleh, David Baron, Bert Bos, Mike Bemford, Tantek Çelik, James Clark, Emilio Cobos Álvarez, Stephen Deach, John Daggett, Martin Dürst, Laurie Anna Edlund, Ben Errez, Javier Fernandez, Yaniv Feinberg, Arye Gittelman, Ian Hickson, Martin Heijdra, Dave Hyatt, Richard Ishida, Masayasu Ishikawa, Michael Jochimsen, Jonathan Kew, Aharon Lanin, Eric LeVine, Ambrose Li, Håkon Wium Lie, Chris Lilley, Ken Lunde, Myles Maxfield, Nat McCully, IM Mincheol, Shinyu Murakami, Paul Nelson, Addison Phillips, Chris Pratley, Xidorn Quan, Marcin Sawicki, Arnold Schrijver, Rahul Sonnad, Alan Stearns, Michel Suignard, Takao Suzuki, Frank Tang, Chris Thrasher, Etan Wexler, Chris Wilson, Masafumi Yabe and Steve Zilles.


There have been only some very minor editorial changes since the December 2020 Candidate Recommendation.

See also earlier list of changes covering the 2020 and 2019 Working Drafts prior to that Candidate Recommendation and the Disposition of Comments covering all comments between 2013 and 2020.


Document conventions

Conformance requirements are expressed with a combination of descriptive assertions and RFC 2119 terminology. The key words “MUST”, “MUST NOT”, “REQUIRED”, “SHALL”, “SHALL NOT”, “SHOULD”, “SHOULD NOT”, “RECOMMENDED”, “MAY”, and “OPTIONAL” in the normative parts of this document are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119. However, for readability, these words do not appear in all uppercase letters in this specification.

All of the text of this specification is normative except sections explicitly marked as non-normative, examples, and notes. [RFC2119]

Examples in this specification are introduced with the words “for example” or are set apart from the normative text with class="example", like this:

This is an example of an informative example.

Informative notes begin with the word “Note” and are set apart from the normative text with class="note", like this:

Note, this is an informative note.

Advisements are normative sections styled to evoke special attention and are set apart from other normative text with <strong class="advisement">, like this: UAs MUST provide an accessible alternative.

Conformance classes

Conformance to this specification is defined for three conformance classes:

style sheet
A CSS style sheet.
A UA that interprets the semantics of a style sheet and renders documents that use them.
authoring tool
A UA that writes a style sheet.

A style sheet is conformant to this specification if all of its statements that use syntax defined in this module are valid according to the generic CSS grammar and the individual grammars of each feature defined in this module.

A renderer is conformant to this specification if, in addition to interpreting the style sheet as defined by the appropriate specifications, it supports all the features defined by this specification by parsing them correctly and rendering the document accordingly. However, the inability of a UA to correctly render a document due to limitations of the device does not make the UA non-conformant. (For example, a UA is not required to render color on a monochrome monitor.)

An authoring tool is conformant to this specification if it writes style sheets that are syntactically correct according to the generic CSS grammar and the individual grammars of each feature in this module, and meet all other conformance requirements of style sheets as described in this module.

Partial implementations

So that authors can exploit the forward-compatible parsing rules to assign fallback values, CSS renderers must treat as invalid (and ignore as appropriate) any at-rules, properties, property values, keywords, and other syntactic constructs for which they have no usable level of support. In particular, user agents must not selectively ignore unsupported component values and honor supported values in a single multi-value property declaration: if any value is considered invalid (as unsupported values must be), CSS requires that the entire declaration be ignored.

Implementations of Unstable and Proprietary Features

To avoid clashes with future stable CSS features, the CSSWG recommends following best practices for the implementation of unstable features and proprietary extensions to CSS.

Non-experimental implementations

Once a specification reaches the Candidate Recommendation stage, non-experimental implementations are possible, and implementors should release an unprefixed implementation of any CR-level feature they can demonstrate to be correctly implemented according to spec.

To establish and maintain the interoperability of CSS across implementations, the CSS Working Group requests that non-experimental CSS renderers submit an implementation report (and, if necessary, the testcases used for that implementation report) to the W3C before releasing an unprefixed implementation of any CSS features. Testcases submitted to W3C are subject to review and correction by the CSS Working Group.

Further information on submitting testcases and implementation reports can be found from on the CSS Working Group’s website at https://www.w3.org/Style/CSS/Test/. Questions should be directed to the public-css-testsuite@w3.org mailing list.

CR exit criteria

For this specification to be advanced to Proposed Recommendation, there must be at least two independent, interoperable implementations of each feature. Each feature may be implemented by a different set of products, there is no requirement that all features be implemented by a single product. For the purposes of this criterion, we define the following terms:

each implementation must be developed by a different party and cannot share, reuse, or derive from code used by another qualifying implementation. Sections of code that have no bearing on the implementation of this specification are exempt from this requirement.
passing the respective test case(s) in the official CSS test suite, or, if the implementation is not a Web browser, an equivalent test. Every relevant test in the test suite should have an equivalent test created if such a user agent (UA) is to be used to claim interoperability. In addition if such a UA is to be used to claim interoperability, then there must one or more additional UAs which can also pass those equivalent tests in the same way for the purpose of interoperability. The equivalent tests must be made publicly available for the purposes of peer review.
a user agent which:
  1. implements the specification.
  2. is available to the general public. The implementation may be a shipping product or other publicly available version (i.e., beta version, preview release, or "nightly build"). Non-shipping product releases must have implemented the feature(s) for a period of at least one month in order to demonstrate stability.
  3. is not experimental (i.e., a version specifically designed to pass the test suite and is not intended for normal usage going forward).

The specification will remain Candidate Recommendation for at least six months.


Terms defined by this specification

Terms defined by reference


Normative References

Bert Bos; Elika Etemad; Brad Kemper. CSS Backgrounds and Borders Module Level 3. 22 December 2020. CR. URL: https://www.w3.org/TR/css-backgrounds-3/
Elika Etemad. CSS Box Model Module Level 4. 21 April 2020. WD. URL: https://www.w3.org/TR/css-box-4/
Elika Etemad; Miriam Suzanne; Tab Atkins Jr.. CSS Cascading and Inheritance Level 5. 19 January 2021. WD. URL: https://www.w3.org/TR/css-cascade-5/
Tab Atkins Jr.; Elika Etemad. CSS Display Module Level 3. 18 December 2020. CR. URL: https://www.w3.org/TR/css-display-3/
John Daggett; Myles Maxfield; Chris Lilley. CSS Fonts Module Level 3. 20 September 2018. REC. URL: https://www.w3.org/TR/css-fonts-3/
John Daggett; Myles Maxfield; Chris Lilley. CSS Fonts Module Level 4. 17 November 2020. WD. URL: https://www.w3.org/TR/css-fonts-4/
Dave Cramer; Elika Etemad; Steve Zilles. CSS Inline Layout Module Level 3. 27 August 2020. WD. URL: https://www.w3.org/TR/css-inline-3/
David Baron; Elika Etemad; Florian Rivoal. CSS Overflow Module Level 3. 3 June 2020. WD. URL: https://www.w3.org/TR/css-overflow-3/
Elika Etemad; et al. CSS Positioned Layout Module Level 3. 19 May 2020. WD. URL: https://www.w3.org/TR/css-position-3/
Elika Etemad; et al. CSS Ruby Annotation Layout Module Level 1. 10 March 2021. WD. URL: https://www.w3.org/TR/css-ruby-1/
Tab Atkins Jr.; Elika Etemad. CSS Box Sizing Module Level 3. 18 December 2020. WD. URL: https://www.w3.org/TR/css-sizing-3/
Tab Atkins Jr.; Elika Etemad. CSS Values and Units Module Level 3. 6 June 2019. CR. URL: https://www.w3.org/TR/css-values-3/
Tab Atkins Jr.; Elika Etemad. CSS Values and Units Module Level 4. 11 November 2020. WD. URL: https://www.w3.org/TR/css-values-4/
Elika Etemad; Koji Ishii. CSS Writing Modes Level 3. 10 December 2019. REC. URL: https://www.w3.org/TR/css-writing-modes-3/
Elika Etemad; Koji Ishii. CSS Writing Modes Level 4. 30 July 2019. CR. URL: https://www.w3.org/TR/css-writing-modes-4/
Bert Bos; et al. Cascading Style Sheets Level 2 Revision 1 (CSS 2.1) Specification. 7 June 2011. REC. URL: https://www.w3.org/TR/CSS21/
Simon Pieters; Glenn Adams. CSS Object Model (CSSOM). 17 March 2016. WD. URL: https://www.w3.org/TR/cssom-1/
S. Bradner. Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement Levels. March 1997. Best Current Practice. URL: https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc2119
Elika Etemad; Tab Atkins Jr.. Selectors Level 4. 21 November 2018. WD. URL: https://www.w3.org/TR/selectors-4/
Ken Lunde 小林劍󠄁. East Asian Width. 18 January 2020. Unicode Standard Annex #11. URL: https://www.unicode.org/reports/tr11/tr11-38.html
Christopher Chapman. Unicode Line Breaking Algorithm. 17 February 2020. Unicode Standard Annex #14. URL: https://www.unicode.org/reports/tr14/tr14-45.html
Ken Whistler. Unicode Script Property. 17 February 2020. Unicode Standard Annex #24. URL: https://www.unicode.org/reports/tr24/tr24-31.html
Mark Davis; Christopher Chapman. Unicode Text Segmentation. 19 February 2020. Unicode Standard Annex #29. URL: https://www.unicode.org/reports/tr29/tr29-37.html
Ken Whistler; Laurențiu Iancu. Unicode Character Database. 4 March 2020. Unicode Standard Annex #44. URL: https://www.unicode.org/reports/tr44/tr44-26.html
Mark Davis; Aharon Lanin; Andrew Glass. Unicode Bidirectional Algorithm. 12 February 2020. Unicode Standard Annex #9. URL: https://www.unicode.org/reports/tr9/tr9-42.html
The Unicode Standard. URL: https://www.unicode.org/versions/latest/
Ken Lunde 小林劍󠄁; Koji Ishii 石井宏治. Unicode Vertical Text Layout. 18 January 2020. Unicode Standard Annex #50. URL: https://www.unicode.org/reports/tr50/tr50-24.html

Informative References

A. Phillips; M. Davis. Tags for Identifying Languages. September 2009. IETF Best Current Practice. URL: https://datatracker.ietf.org/doc/html/bcp47
Bobby Tung; et al. Requirements for Chinese Text Layout中文排版需求. 1 November 2020. WD. URL: https://www.w3.org/TR/clreq/
Elika Etemad; Koji Ishii. CSS Text Decoration Module Level 3. 13 August 2019. CR. URL: https://www.w3.org/TR/css-text-decor-3/
Anne van Kesteren. DOM Standard. Living Standard. URL: https://dom.spec.whatwg.org/
Anne van Kesteren; et al. HTML Standard. Living Standard. URL: https://html.spec.whatwg.org/multipage/
Swaran Lata. Indic Layout Requirements. 29 May 2020. WD. URL: https://www.w3.org/TR/ilreq/
Anne van Kesteren; Domenic Denicola. Infra Standard. Living Standard. URL: https://infra.spec.whatwg.org/
Code for the representation of names of scripts. International Organization for Standardization. 1998. ISO 15924:1998. Draft International Standard
Formatting rules for Japanese documents (『日本語文書の組版方法』). Japanese Standards Association. 2004. JIS X 4051:2004. In Japanese
Hiroyuki Chiba; et al. Requirements for Japanese Text Layout 日本語組版処理の要件(日本語版). 11 August 2020. NOTE. URL: https://www.w3.org/TR/jlreq/
Elika Etemad; Richard Ishida. Approches to Full Justification. URL: https://www.w3.org/International/articles/typography/justification
R. Barnes; S. Kent; E. Rescorla. Further Key Words for Use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement Levels. 1 April 2013. Experimental. URL: https://datatracker.ietf.org/doc/html/rfc6919
Richard Ishida. Language enablement index. 20 May 2020. WD. URL: https://www.w3.org/TR/typography/
Tim Bray; et al. Extensible Markup Language (XML) 1.0 (Fifth Edition). 26 November 2008. REC. URL: https://www.w3.org/TR/xml/
General Rules for Punctuation (《标点符号用法》). 2011. GB/T 15834―2011. In Chinese.

Property Index

Name Value Initial Applies to Inh. %ages Anim­ation type Canonical order Com­puted value
hanging-punctuation none | [ first || [ force-end | allow-end ] || last ] none text yes n/a discrete per grammar specified keyword(s)
hyphens none | manual | auto manual text yes n/a discrete n/a specified keyword
letter-spacing normal | <length> normal inline boxes and text yes n/a by computed value type n/a an absolute length
line-break auto | loose | normal | strict | anywhere auto text yes n/a discrete n/a specified keyword
overflow-wrap normal | break-word | anywhere normal text yes n/a discrete n/a specified keyword
tab-size <number> | <length> 8 text yes n/a by computed value type n/a the specified number or absolute length
text-align start | end | left | right | center | justify | match-parent | justify-all start block containers yes see individual properties discrete n/a see individual properties
text-align-all start | end | left | right | center | justify | match-parent start block containers yes n/a discrete n/a keyword as specified, except for match-parent which computes as defined above
text-align-last auto | start | end | left | right | center | justify | match-parent auto block containers yes n/a discrete n/a specified keyword
text-indent [ <length-percentage> ] && hanging? && each-line? 0 block containers yes refers to block container’s own inline-axis inner size by computed value type per grammar computed <length-percentage> value, plus any specified keywords
text-justify auto | none | inter-word | inter-character auto text yes n/a discrete n/a specified keyword
text-transform none | [capitalize | uppercase | lowercase ] || full-width || full-size-kana none text yes n/a discrete n/a specified keyword
white-space normal | pre | nowrap | pre-wrap | break-spaces | pre-line normal text yes n/a discrete n/a specified keyword
word-break normal | keep-all | break-all | break-word normal text yes n/a discrete n/a specified keyword
word-spacing normal | <length> normal text yes N/A by computed value type n/a an absolute length
word-wrap normal | break-word | anywhere normal text yes n/a discrete n/a specified keyword