By Jake Rocheleau

Web typography is now more stylish and malleable than ever before. New CSS3 properties allow for truly unique typographic effects that in the past would have required images and custom JavaScript.

Each of the following code snippets are completely free to use and customize for your own projects. Although some of these effects render in modern browsers, you’ll find other effects that run very smooth and may even have fallback alternatives for legacy support.

If you’re a fan of typographic design or just a curious web developer then you’re sure to enjoy these custom-built text manipulation snippets.

New Header Johan van Tongeren

A full header crafted with Open Sans & Squada One – definitely a unique touch. This header was designed for Johan van Tongeren’s new website. The logotype letters feature a striped shadow and the nav links expand in size through animated hover effects.

Star Wars Scrolling Text Scott Bram

George Lucas has unleashed an incredible force in the world of cinema with ripples leading into many other creative fields. This code snippet replicates the Star Wars intro text as it scrolls upwards at a slant away from the viewer.

Opening Type Bernardo

Perhaps the coolest aspect of this paper cutout effect is that it’s created with less than 100 lines of CSS. Each letter uses CSS3 transforms to skew the letter while rotating in 3-D along X/Y/Z axes.

Stylish Blockquote Stephen Greig

Here’s an interesting snippet that focuses on techniques found in traditional graphic design. Pseudo classes are used to manipulate the blockquote text and append CSS styles onto particular letters in the quote. Very cool style to spruce up a static webpage.

3D CSS Typography Noah Blon

With CSS3 transforms we can manipulate just about any text or page element with ease. Browser support is increasing and transforms have grown to allow for fully-encompassed animations like this 3D rotating block of text.

The Leonardo Blake Johnson

Quite an interesting logo concept for pure typographic font manipulation. The outer letters are cut off at 45° using CSS borders. In production this may work better as a PNG but for pushing CSS boundaries this is truly an impressive feat to behold.

’80s Typography David Parker

The ’80s are still alive and well in this CodePen snippet by David Parker. All 5 text effects come straight out of 1980s graphic design relying on nothing more than pure CSS3.

Curly Brace Divider Lauren Herda

Horizontal Rules have been apart of HTML for years – but CSS3 allows more fanciful effects to bring HR elements into the modern age of UI design. For example, this HR snippet is styled into a large curly brace using custom CSS3 background properties.

Exploring Type Robot

Just a few interesting drop shadow effects tied onto large lettering. Border divisions are added alongside letters and positioned at exactly 50% height.

Knockout Text Crisman Noble

This is one neat CSS style that forces a background image to show through letters on the page. I should note this effect will only work in Webkit browsers, so use it sparingly or in case test studies.

Diagonal-Dashed Shadow Lucas Bebber

Here’s another dynamic CSS text shadow using diagonal dashes for the pattern. They’re animated to jitter using CSS3 and they can even apply to borders located on top & bottom of the text.

CSS3 Logotype Nate Scott

Some real simple logo-esque typography with stencil borders. The text is styled as if to mimic a BBQ joint with big letters and similar drop shadows.

Creative Resume Sara Soueidan

This one-of-a-kind typographic resume relies on more traditional graphic design principles. Font color varies based on location to designate areas of the page to different skills. It’s a very cool idea that could be used on a real project with a bit of tweaking.

4 Text Shadow Effects Jorge Epuñan

We’ve seen a few text shadows in other pens but this snippet offers 4 unique CSS styles for creating text shadows. You’ll find a “flat” long shadow, 3D shadow, inset shadow & retro thin line shadow.

Geek Badge Rachel Nabors

At first this may not seem like much but it’s actually a ribbon comprised of nothing but HTML/CSS. The skewed text & rotated container were both created with dynamic CSS3 properties.

SCSS Tight Underline Mr. Pirrera

Typical CSS underlines will span the entirety of a word and maintain location based on line-height. This snippet generates a thin background image which falls behind letters, thus creating an underline that doesn’t cut through descenders.

Masked Text Shadow Daniel Riemer

Here’s an interesting CSS shadow that relies on masking to create the effect. CSS masks are not fully supported in most browsers, but they can be very powerful when used correctly.

Text Filling with Water xiaodong

When first finding this pen I thought it had to be using JavaScript. Believe it or not this animated water effect is created exclusively with CSS by replacing background images through CSS animation keyframes.

The Correct Pronounciation Daniel Burrows

Here we’ve got a very cool typeface stacked with an interesting drop shadow. But my favorite part of this snippet is the rotated section symbol(§) used as an aesthetic divider. It just goes to show you really can build anything with some creative ingenuity.

Skewed Typeface Kurt Emch

Comic book text is often bold, lengthy, and skewed in some direction. This code snippet uses the font Bangers in combination with CSS3 to create a proportionally skewed superhero-style text effect.

Circular Text Badge Jack Armley

This entire page was created using no images or any JavaScript. The rounded text, circular badge, and textured BGs were all created with pure CSS3.

Dotted Text Shadow Travis Benton

Another unique text shadow that uses dots like you’d find on a dot matrix printer. The dot pattern is generated through base64 code so there are no external images at all.

Colored 3D Effect Brian Guerrero

3D glasses can make digital pictures look weird and colorful in 3D. Well this CSS effect recreates the 3D look, sans glasses.

The shadows are combined into one property so we have 2 different shadows rendered onto the same text.

Text Perspective Nathaniel Watson

Here’s another interesting 3D effect reliant on pure CSS3 transforms. The perspective transform property is powerful when used under the right conditions.

Multi-Colored 3D Type Carlos Centeno

An interesting and vastly creative snippet: square block-case letters aligned together with uniquely colored text shadows. I have no idea how long it took to write the code for this text effect, but it looks magnificent.


Some of these snippets may prove useful in future projects while others may never be replicable in a professional setting. CodePen is just a fun place for developers to explore languages and see what’s possible in the world of frontend development. Feel free to mess around with any of these code snippets and see what else you can create.

We have also published a collection of pure CSS animation snippets, a selection of snippets for things you never thought were possible with CSS and a bunch of snippets that demonstrate the power of Canvas & SVG.

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