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This post is part of my Today I learned series in which I share all my web development learnings.

In the past, I needed to style link elements in particular pretty or fancy ways. These visual effects often became trickier to implement than expected because links can be broken across several lines. This line break then messed up the beautiful styling. For example, padding and border-radius were only applied to the beginning and end of the elements. This behavior is not always what you want if your element spans across several lines, though.

Example of a cut link element which looks quite ugly spread across two lines

Today I learned that you could use box-decoration-break to define how elements are rendered across pages, columns, and lines. It accepts two values: clone (the default value) and slice.

clone leads to "cut off" styles. In contrast, slice changes the rendering so that every element fragment (an element spread across two lines includes two fragments) is rendered independently. Styles like padding are applied several times to all the element fragments. 🎉

box-decoration-break doesn't work for all CSS properties, though. The following properties are rendered independently:

  • background
  • border
  • border-image
  • box-shadow
  • clip-path
  • margin
  • padding

box-decoration-break is a welcome help when dealing with fancy styles across lines and columns. 🎉

DevSheet showing the difference between box-decoration-break: clone and box-decoration-break: slice

If you want to play around with it, look at this CodePen example or check the excellent MDN docs for box-decoration-break. Have fun!

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