The white-space property is used to describe how whitespace inside the element is handled.

Syntax

/* Keyword values */
white-space: normal;
white-space: nowrap;
white-space: pre;
white-space: pre-wrap;
white-space: pre-line;

/* Global values */
white-space: inherit;
white-space: initial;
white-space: unset;

Values

normal
Sequences of whitespace are collapsed. Newline characters in the source are handled as other whitespace. Breaks lines as necessary to fill line boxes.
nowrap
Collapses whitespace as for normal, but suppresses line breaks (text wrapping) within text.
pre
Sequences of whitespace are preserved, lines are only broken at newline characters in the source and at <br> elements.
pre-wrap
Sequences of whitespace are preserved. Lines are broken at newline characters, at <br>, and as necessary to fill line boxes.
pre-line
Sequences of whitespace are collapsed. Lines are broken at newline characters, at <br>, and as necessary to fill line boxes.

The following table summarizes the behavior of various white-space values:

  New lines Spaces and tabs Text wrapping
normal Collapse Collapse Wrap
nowrap Collapse Collapse No wrap
pre Preserve Preserve No wrap
pre-wrap Preserve Preserve Wrap
pre-line Preserve Collapse Wrap

Formal syntax

normal | pre | nowrap | pre-wrap | pre-line

Examples

Basic example

code { 
  white-space: pre; 
}

Line breaks inside <pre> elements

pre {
  word-wrap: break-word;      /* IE 5.5-7 */
  white-space: -moz-pre-wrap; /* Firefox 1.0-2.0 */
  white-space: pre-wrap;      /* current browsers */
}

Specifications

Specification Status Comment
CSS Text Level 3
The definition of 'white-space' in that specification.
Working Draft Precises the breaking algorithms.
CSS Level 2 (Revision 1)
The definition of 'white-space' in that specification.
Recommendation Initial specification

Browser compatibility

Feature Chrome Firefox (Gecko) Internet Explorer Opera Safari (WebKit)
Basic support (normal and nowrap) 1.0 1.0 (1.7 or earlier) 5.5[1] 4.0 1.0 (85)
pre 1.0 1.0 6.0 4.0 1.0 (85)
pre-wrap 1.0 1.0 (1.7 or earlier)-moz
3.0 (1.9)
8.0 8.0 3.0 (522)
pre-line 1.0 3.5 (1.9.1) 8.0 9.5 3.0 (522)
Support on <textarea> 1.0 36 (36) 5.5 4.0 1.0 (85)
Feature Android Firefox Mobile (Gecko) IE Phone Opera Mobile Safari Mobile
Basic support ? ? ? ? ?

[1] Internet Explorer 5.5+ supports word-wrap: break-word;.