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The CSS Overflow Property

Reading time 2 min
Published Aug 8, 2017
Updated Oct 1, 2019

Defining overflow in CSS

By using the CSS overflow property, you can manipulate the element's behavior in cases when the content cannot fit within its borders. It is actually a shorthand for two CSS overflow subproperties:

  • overflow-x
  • overflow-y

Both of them can also be used separately:

Example
div {
    overflow-x: hidden;
}
Example
div {
    overflow-y: hidden;
}

CSS overflow syntax and property values

The syntax for overflow is similar to that of the other CSS shorthands – you need to write the values for both subproperties without actually typing their names:

overflow: overflow-x overflow-y;

overflow-x defines how left and right sides of a container react to overflowing content, and overflow-y; does the same for the top and bottom edges. If you only define one value, it will apply to both subproperties.

Both overflow-x and overflow-y take the same values:

Value Description
visible The default value. The content is not clipped and may overflow the padding box
hidden The content can be clipped, and the user can only scroll programmatically
clip The content can be clipped, and the user cannot scroll (even programmatically)
scroll The content can be clipped, but the user can scroll using a scrollbar in CSS
auto Element's behavior depends on the browser

Dealing with CSS text overflow

The CSS text-overflow property defines how the browser will inform the user about the presence of overflowed text content:

Example
div {
    text-overflow: ellipsis;
}

To use this property, you need to choose and define one out of three possible values:

text-overflow: value;

Value Description
clip The default value. The text is clipped at the edge of the container, even if it's the middle of the character/td>
ellipsis An ellipsis ('…') is shown at the end of the clipped text inside the container
string A specified string is shown at the end of the clipped text inside the container

Browser Support

Browser image
Chrome
1+
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Edge
12+
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Firefox
7+
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IE
6+
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Opera
11+
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Safari
1.3+

Mobile Browser Support

Browser image
Chrome
18+
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Firefox
7+
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Opera
11+
Browser image
Safari
All