CSS Elippsis at the beginning of the string

I was incredibly happy when CSS text-overflow: ellipsis (married with fixed width and overflow: hidden was introduced to the CSS spec and browsers; the feature allowed us to stop trying to marry JavaScript width calculation with string width calculation and truncation. CSS ellipsis was also very friendly to accessibility. The CSS text-overflow: ellipsis feature is great but is essentially meant to ellipsize strings only at the end; what if we want to ellipsize the beginning of a screen? The use case is fairly reasonable: think displaying a file path -- many times the directory for a set of files is the same, in which case you'd want to display the end of the string, not the beginning.

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


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

.ellipsize-left {
/* Standard CSS ellipsis */
white-space: nowrap;
overflow: hidden;
text-overflow: ellipsis;
width: 200px;

/* Beginning of string */
direction: rtl;
text-align: left;

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

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



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