CSS: word cloud

A word cloud is always something nice to do with CSS. All we need is a basic knowledge of CSS positioning and a couple of CSS transformations to add a final touch to our layout. Here's the background of this demo: I was searching the web for a PHP patch for Google Prettify and I simply stumbled on the following image:

Let's see how to get a similar result with CSS.

First it comes the markup:

<div id="word-cloud">

 <span class="word-1">css</span>
 <span class="word-2">xhtml</span>
 <span class="word-3">css</span>
 <span class="word-4">jquery</span>
 <span class="word-5">javascript</span>
 <span class="word-6">xml</span>
 <span class="word-7">html5</span>


Some of these words will be rotated by minus 90 degrees. Before digging into our example, we need to get a font similar to the one used in the image. We get the Yanone Kaffesatz Google font and we insert in our page like so:

<link href='http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Yanone+Kaffeesatz:regular,bold' rel='stylesheet' type='text/css' />

Before using any new web font, a good always is always this: check out the font metrics first or you might end up with specifying a too small or big font. Said that, here's our CSS code:

#word-cloud {
 width: 400px;
 height: 300px;
 margin: 0 auto;
 padding: 2em 0;
 font: 100% 'Yanone Kaffeesatz', Arial, sans-serif;
 position: relative;

#word-cloud span {
 position: absolute;

#word-cloud .word-1 {
 top: 1em;
 left: 1.5em;
 font-size: 100px;
 color: #626262;

#word-cloud .word-2 {
 top: 0;
 left: 1em;
 font-size: 80px;
 color: #906060;

#word-cloud .word-3 {
 top: 1em;
 left: 1.5em;
 font-size: 60px;
 color: #c5c5c5;

#word-cloud .word-4 {
 top: 1em;
 left: 0;
 font-size: 40px;
 color: #511c1c;
 -moz-transform: rotate(-90deg);
 -webkit-transform: rotate(-90deg);
 -o-transform: rotate(-90deg);

#word-cloud .word-5 {
 top: 1.5em;
 right: -0.3em;
 color: #666;
 font-size: 70px;
 -moz-transform: rotate(-90deg);
 -webkit-transform: rotate(-90deg);
 -o-transform: rotate(-90deg);

#word-cloud .word-6 {
 bottom: 0;
 right: 1em;
 color: #5e0000;
 font-size: 120px;

#word-cloud .word-7 {
 bottom: 0.6em;
 left: 0;
 color: #6e6e6e;
 font-size: 90px;
 -moz-transform: rotate(-90deg);
 -webkit-transform: rotate(-90deg);
 -o-transform: rotate(-90deg);

We've used only positioning and CSS transformations here. Bear in mind that when an element is positioned like so it's first turned into a block-level element and if we don't specify a dimension for it, its final dimensions will be calculated using the shrink-to-fit algorithm, that is, its width and height will be proportional to the amount of content contained within the element itself. You can see the demo below.


Live demo

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