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How can I truncate a string to a specified length using JavaScript?

Breaking a string into words is not the easiest, neither is finding a good place to truncate a string. Part of the problem is recognizing word boundaries and words themselves. An even more advanced use-case might even need to account for locale. Let's build up from the simplest case to the most advanced.

Truncate string

The absolute simplest way to truncate a string is to use String.prototype.slice(). All you have to do is compare String.prototype.length to the desired length and return the string truncated to the desired length. If the string is shorter than the desired length, return the string as-is.

const truncateString = (str, num) =>
  str.length > num ? str.slice(0, num) : str;

truncateString('boomerang', 6); // 'boomer'

Truncate string, adding ellipsis

That works, but the result doesn't hint at the fact that the string has been truncated. Let's add an ellipsis to the end of the string to indicate that it has been truncated. We can do this by appending '...' to the end of the string if it has been truncated. We will also have to account for the length of the ellipsis itself, so we'll need to subtract its length from the desired length.

const truncateString = (str, lim) =>
  str.length > lim ? str.slice(0, lim > 3 ? lim - 3 : lim) + '...' : str;

truncateString('boomerang', 7); // 'boom...'

Truncate string at whitespace

Up until this point, we've been truncating the string at the specified length, regardless of whether it's in the middle of a word or not. But you might need to respect word boundaries and truncate the string at a whitespace character.

We can do this by using String.prototype.lastIndexOf() to find the index of the last space below the desired length. We can then use String.prototype.slice() to appropriately truncate the string based on the index of the last space, respecting whitespace if possible and appending '...' at the end.

const truncateStringAtWhitespace = (str, lim, ending = '...') => {
  if (str.length <= lim) return str;
  const lastSpace = str.slice(0, lim - ending.length + 1).lastIndexOf(' ');
  return str.slice(0, lastSpace > 0 ? lastSpace : lim - ending.length) + ending;

truncateStringAtWhitespace('short', 10); // 'short'
truncateStringAtWhitespace('not so short', 10); // 'not so...'
truncateStringAtWhitespace('trying a thing', 10); // 'trying...'
truncateStringAtWhitespace('javascripting', 10); // 'javascr...'

Locale-sensitive string truncation

Finally, we've arrived at the most complex problem - locale-sensitive string truncation. This is a difficult problem to solve, which is why JavaScript has kindly added the Intl.Segmenter object.

Intl.Segmenter allows you to specify a locale and a granularity option to specify how a string should be segmented. The granularity option can be set to 'grapheme', 'word' or 'sentence', as needed. Using Intl.Segmenter.prototype.segment() on a string returns an iterable Segments object. This can then be used to find the correct index to split a string without being in the middle of a word or a sentence.

const truncateStringAtWord = (str, lim, locale = 'en-US', ending = '...') => {
  const segmenter = new Intl.Segmenter(locale, { granularity: 'word' });
  let lastWordBreak = -1;

  for (let word of segmenter.segment(str)) {
    if (word.isWordLike) continue;
    if (word.index >= lim) break;
    lastWordBreak = word.index;

  return str.slice(0, lastWordBreak) + '...';

const truncateStringAtSentence = (
  locale = 'en-US',
  ending = '...'
) => {
  const segmenter = new Intl.Segmenter(locale, { granularity: 'sentence' });
  let lastSentenceBreak = -1;

  for (let sentence of segmenter.segment(str)) {
    if (
      lastSentenceBreak !== -1 &&
      sentence.index + sentence.segment.length >= lim
    lastSentenceBreak = sentence.index + sentence.segment.length;

  return str.slice(0, lastSentenceBreak).trim().slice(0, -1) + '...';

const str =
  'The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The jay, pig, fox, zebra and my wolves quack!';
const lim = 50;

truncateStringAtWord(str, lim);
// 'The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The...'
truncateStringAtSentence(str, lim);
// 'The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog...'
💬 Note

The Intl.Segmenter object is available in modern browsers and Node.js, since v16.0.0. Make sure to check compatibility for your target environment.

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