The writing-mode CSS property defines whether lines of text are laid out horizontally or vertically and the direction in which blocks progress.

/* Keyword values */
writing-mode: horizontal-tb;
writing-mode: vertical-rl;
writing-mode: vertical-lr;

/* Global values */
writing-mode: inherit;
writing-mode: initial;
writing-mode: unset;

Syntax

The property specifies the block flow direction, which is the direction in which block-level containers are stacked, and the direction in which inline-level content flows within a block container. Thus the writing-mode property also determines the ordering of block-level content.

Initial valuehorizontal-tb
Applies toall elements except table row groups, table column groups, table rows, and table columns
Inheritedyes
Mediavisual
Computed valueas specified
Animation typediscrete
Canonical orderthe unique non-ambiguous order defined by the formal grammar

Values

horizontal-tb
Content flows horizontally from left to right, vertically from top to bottom. The next horizontal line is positioned below the previous line.
vertical-rl
Content flows vertically from top to bottom, horizontally from right to left. The next vertical line is positioned to the left of the previous line.
vertical-lr
Content flows vertically from top to bottom, horizontally from left to right. The next vertical line is positioned to the right of the previous line.
sideways-rl
Content flows vertically from top to bottom and all the glyphs, even those in vertical scripts, are set sideways toward the right.
sideways-lr
Content flows vertically from top to bottom and all the glyphs, even those in vertical scripts, are set sideways toward the left.
lr
Deprecated except for SVG1 documents. For CSS, use horizontal-tb.
lr-tb
Deprecated except for SVG1 documents. For CSS, use horizontal-tb.
rl
Deprecated except for SVG1 documents. For CSS, use horizontal-tb.
tb
Deprecated except for SVG1 documents. For CSS, use vertical-lr.
tb-rl
Deprecated except for SVG1 documents. For CSS, use vertical-rl.

Formal syntax

horizontal-tb | vertical-rl | vertical-lr | sideways-rl | sideways-lr

Example

This example demonstrates all of the writing modes, showing each with text in various languages.

HTML

The HTML is simply a <table> with each writing mode in a row with a column showing text in various scripts using that writing mode.

<table>
    <tr>
        <th>value</th>
        <th>Vertical script</th>
        <th>Horizontal script</th>
        <th>Mixed script</th>
    </tr>
    <tr>
        <td>horizontal-tb</td>
        <td class="example Text1"><span>我家没有电脑。</span></td>
        <td class="example Text1"><span>Example text</span></td>
        <td class="example Text1"><span>1994年に至っては</span></td>
    </tr>
    <tr>
        <td>vertical-lr</td>
        <td class="example Text2"><span>我家没有电脑。</span></td>
        <td class="example Text2"><span>Example text</span></td>
        <td class="example Text2"><span>1994年に至っては</span></td>
    </tr>
    <tr>
        <td>vertical-rl</td>
        <td class="example Text3"><span>我家没有电脑。</span></td>
        <td class="example Text3"><span>Example text</span></td>
        <td class="example Text3"><span>1994年に至っては</span></td>
    </tr>
    <tr>
        <td>sideways-lr</td>
        <td class="example Text4"><span>我家没有电脑。</span></td>
        <td class="example Text4"><span>Example text</span></td>
        <td class="example Text4"><span>1994年に至っては</span></td>
    </tr>
    <tr>
        <td>sideways-rl</td>
        <td class="example Text5"><span>我家没有电脑。</span></td>
        <td class="example Text5"><span>Example text</span></td>
        <td class="example Text5"><span>1994年に至っては</span></td>
    </tr>
</table>

CSS

The CSS that adjusts the directionality of the content looks like this:

.example.Text1 span, .example.Text1 {
  writing-mode: horizontal-tb;
  -webkit-writing-mode: horizontal-tb;
  -ms-writing-mode: horizontal-tb;
}

.example.Text2 span, .example.Text2 {
  writing-mode: vertical-lr;
  -webkit-writing-mode: vertical-lr;
  -ms-writing-mode: vertical-lr;
}

.example.Text3 span, .example.Text3 {
  writing-mode: vertical-rl;
  -webkit-writing-mode: vertical-rl;
  -ms-writing-mode: vertical-rl;
}

.example.Text4 span, .example.Text4 {
  writing-mode: sideways-lr;
  -webkit-writing-mode: sideways-lr;
  -ms-writing-mode: sideways-lr;
}

.example.Text5 span, .example.Text5 {
  writing-mode: sideways-rl;
  -webkit-writing-mode: sideways-rl;
  -ms-writing-mode: sideways-rl;
}

Actual result

This is an image showing what the output should look like, in case your browser's support for writing-mode is incomplete.

Specification

Specification Status Comment
CSS Writing Modes Module Level 3
The definition of 'writing-mode' in that specification.
Candidate Recommendation Initial definition
CSS Writing Modes Level 4
The definition of 'writing-mode' in that specification.
Editor's Draft Add sideways-lr and sideways-rl

Browser compatibility

        
Feature Chrome Edge Firefox Internet Explorer (defunct) Opera Safari
Basic support 8-webkit
(Yes)
(Yes)-webkit
(Yes)
41 (41)[1][3] 9-ms[2] 15-webkit 5.1-webkit
lr 48 (uprefixed) (Yes) 43 (43) 9-ms[2] (Yes) ?
lr-tb
rl
rl-tb
tb
tb-rl
horizontal-tb (Yes) (as of 58) (Yes) (as of 40) 43 (43) No support (as of 11) (Yes) (as of 44) ?
vertical-lr
vertical-rl
sideways-lr No support (as of 58) No support (as of 40) 43 (43) No support (as of 11) No support (as of 44) ?
sideways-rl
        
Feature Android Android Webview Chrome for Android Edge Firefox Mobile (Gecko) IE Mobile Opera Mobile Safari Mobile
Basic support 3-webkit (Yes) 47-webkit
(Yes)
(Yes)-webkit
(Yes)
41.0 (41) [1][3] ? ? 5.1 -webkit
SVG 1.1 values lr, lr-tb, rl, tb, tb-rl ? 48.0 (uprefixed) 48.0 (uprefixed) (Yes) 43.0 (43) ? ? ?
sideways-rl,sideways-lr No support[4] No support No support No support ? ? ? ?
vertical-lr vertical-rl No support[4] No support No support No support ? ? ? ?

[1] An experimental implementation was available since Gecko 36. It is governed by the preference layout.css.vertical-text.enabled, defaulting to false until Firefox 38. From Firefox 39 and Firefox 40, the preference was true for Nightly and DevTools editions only. Note that not all CSS widgets (e.g. tables) obey to it, yet. The preference has been removed in Gecko 51 and this property cannot be disabled since this version.

[2] The implementation in Internet Explorer differs from the specification. See the related article in the Internet Explorer Dev Center.

[3] Bidirectional and rtl scripts are supported in vertical modes only since Gecko 42.

See also

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 Last updated by: Sheppy,