word-break: break-all vs word-wrap: break-word


Assume that we have a string of This is a sample text in a paragraph displayed in a container that has limited width such as it can display 9 characters at maximum.
word-break: break-all will try to fit maximum characters in each line as it can. So there are words which are split into different lines such as text and paragraph like that:
/* word-break: break-all */
| This is a |
| sample tex|
| t in a par|
| agraph.   |
On the other hand, word-wrap: break-word does not break the words that are able to fit in each line. So the text and paragraph words are not split in different lines.
/* word-wrap: break-word */
| This is a |
| sample    |
| text in a |
| paragraph.|
If each line can contains a less number of characters, then break-word will break long words that are not fit in each line.
/* word-wrap: break-word */
| This is |
| a       |
| sample  |
| text in |
| a       |
| paragrap|
| h.      | 

Good to know

  1. word-wrap was a non standard and unprefixed Microsoft extension. It was renamed to overflow-wrap.
    However, word-wrap: break-word is identical to overflow-wrap: anywhere, not overflow-wrap: break-word.
  2. A browser might break a long text at unexpected places. For example, the specific path (/this/is/.../folder) in the following text is placed at the second line:
    | Copy file to the folder:                              |
    | /this/is/a/very/long/path/to/the/destination/folder   |
    To prevent this behavior, HTML5 provides the <wbr> element. It stands for Word Break Opportunity, and is used to specify the positions that a line break would be created.
    Getting back to the example above. If we use <wbr> elements right before each path separator (/) as follow:
    Copy your file to the folder:
    The browser will break the paths in between the directory names:
    | Copy your file to the folder: /this/is/a/very/long    |
    | /path/to/the/destination/folder                       |
    Note that <wbr> element is not supported in IE 11 and earlier versions.
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