Text emboss in CSS

I know only two _unperfect _ways of displaying an emboss text in CSS. As we can't use inset shadows with text-shadow, unlike box-shadow, we have to resort to other hacky ways.

Let me show you what can be done.

Simulate it with an optical illusion

Instead of creating a real inner shadow, you can just create an optical illusion by adding the correct shadow to make the viewer believe your text is embossed.

If you have dark text, just add a subtle white shadow at the bottom, while if you have light text, just add a subtle black one at the top.

<a class="emboss light">Lorem ipsum</a>
<a class="emboss dark">Lorem ipsum</a>
.emboss { font-size:1.2em; padding:50px; font-weight:bold; background:#0A539C; display:block; }
.light { color:#FFFFFF; text-shadow:0px -1px 0px rgba(0,0,0,0.9); }
.dark { color:#000000; text-shadow:0px 1px 0px rgba(255,255,255,0.1); }

I added an embossclass to more easily spot the effect, but the important code is in the lightand darkrules.

Add an almost transparent layer

For this second solution we will simply add a second layer with the exact same text above the first text. Just slightly moving it and making it partly transparent.

You could add twice your element in your markup, but that would be bad for accesibility as well as SEO, so we'll instead use the :before pseudo-class.

We can set the :before content using the content: property, and we can also use theattr() method to get the content of one of our element's attributes. We just need to put the exact same text in one of our attributes and we're good to go.

This can be easily done with a link and its titleattribute.

<a class="emboss lightAgain" title="Lorem ipsum">Lorem ipsum</a>
<a class="emboss darkAgain" title="Lorem ipsum">Lorem ipsum</a>
.lightAgain { color:#FFFFFF; position:relative; }
.lightAgain:before {
  content: attr(title);
.darkAgain { color:#000000; position:relative; }
.darkAgain:before {
   content: attr(title);

The effect is much better with this technique but it also has it share of drawback :

  • You have to write your content twice, once in the element and once in an attribute
  • You have to copy all your paddingrules in the :beforeelement or it won't get correctly positionned
  • You can't select the text with this effect

Hope those two little techniques helped someone, anyway.

Tags : #after #css #text-shadow #emboss

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