thirdender thirdender - 2 months ago 17
CSS Question

"text-align: justify;" inline-block elements properly?

A few other questions have already addressed how best to apply

text-align: justify
to get inline-block elements to spread out evenly… for example, How do I *really* justify a horizontal menu in HTML+CSS?

However, the 100% width element that "clears" the line of inline-block elements is given its own line by the browser. I can't figure out how to get rid of that empty vertical space without using
line-height: 0;
on the parent element.

For an example of the problem, see this fiddle

For my solution that uses
line-height: 0;
, see this fiddle

The solution I'm using requires that a new
line-height
be applied to the child elements, but any previously set
line-height
is lost. Is anyone aware of a better solution? I want to avoid tables so that the elements can wrap when necessary, and also flexbox because the browser support isn't there yet. I also want to avoid floats because the number of elements being spaced out will be arbitrary.

Answer

Updated the "Future" solution info below; still not yet fully supported.

Present Workaround (IE8+, FF, Chrome Tested)

See this fiddle.

Relevant CSS

.prevNext {
    text-align: justify;
}

.prevNext a {
    display: inline-block;
    position: relative;
    top: 1.2em; /* your line-height */
}

.prevNext:before{
    content: '';
    display: block;
    width: 100%;
    margin-bottom: -1.2em; /* your line-height */
}

.prevNext:after {
    content: '';
    display: inline-block;
    width: 100%;
}

Explanation

The display: block on the :before element with the negative bottom margin pulls the lines of text up one line height which eliminates the extra line, but displaces the text. Then with the position: relative on the inline-block elements the displacement is counteracted, but without adding the additional line back.

Though css cannot directly access a line-height "unit" per se, the use of em in the margin-bottom and top settings easily accommodates any line-height given as one of the multiplier values. So 1.2, 120%, or 1.2em are all equal in calculation with respect to line-height, which makes the use of em a good choice here, as even if line-height: 1.2 is set, then 1.2em for margin-bottom and top will match. Good coding to normalize the look of a site means at some point line-height should be defined explicitly, so if any of the multiplier methods are used, then the equivalent em unit will give the same value as the line-height. And if line-height is set to a non-em length, such as px, that instead could be set.

Definitely having a variable or mixin using a css preprocessor such as LESS or SCSS could help keep these values matching the appropriate line-height, or javascript could be used to dynamically read such, but really, the line-height should be known in the context of where this is being used, and the appropriate settings here made.

UPDATE for minified text (no spaces) issue

Kubi's comment noted that a minification of the html that removes the spaces between the <a> elements causes the justification to fail. A pseudo-space within the <a> tag does not help (but that is expected, as the space is happening inside the inline-block element), a <wbr> added between the <a> tags does not help (probably because a break is not necessary to the next line), so if minification is desired, then the solution is a hard coded non-breaking space character &nbsp;--other space characters like thin space and en space did not work (surprisingly).

Nearing a Future Clean Solution

A solution in which webkit was behind the times (as of first writing this) was:

.prevNext {
    text-align: justify;
    -moz-text-align-last: justify;
    -webkit-text-align-last: justify; /* not implemented yet, and will not be */
    text-align-last: justify; /* IE */
}

It works in FF 12.0+ and IE8+ (buggy in IE7).

For Webkit, as of version 39 (at least, might have crept in earlier) it does support it without the -webkit- extension but only if the user has enabled the experimental features (which can be done at chrome://flags/#enable-experimental-web-platform-features). Rumor is that version 41 or 42 should see full support. Since it is not seamlessly supported by webkit yet, it is still only a partial solution. However, I thought I should post it as it can be useful for some.

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