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Utilities for shaping text, with a focus on providing typographic tools over pure string manipulation.

It can be a pain formatting dynamic text. And user interfaces need to do it all the time. Making it look a little more human can go a long way. This library collects some of the things I find myself rewriting over and over again.

I had a lot of fun writing this utility. The README is written in literate coffeescript, so it’s the source code for the module as well as the documentation for it. Below the implementation details have been removed, so check it out on GitHub to see it all in one place.

This is what written can do:


written is available via NPM and Bower.

$ npm install written
// or
$ bower install written

written can be required as a module in Node and CommonJS contexts, and will otherwise be made available as a global variable (window.written).


Capitalize the first letter of a string. Nothing new to see here.

w.capitalize("obviously")                         // Obviously

Capitalize all words in a string apart from some common lower case words. This can be tested with the internal noncaps regular expression, which are stored by language code, or by passing a regular expression of your own.

w.capitalizeAll("this and that")                  // This and That
w.capitalizeAll("the cat in the hat")             // The Cat in the Hat

Following the APA style guide (for ease and practicality) conjunctions, articles, and short prepositions of less than four letters will be left in lowercase when calling capitalizeAll().


Transform strings between common code cases, and back to normal language.

w.camelCase("some-thing")                         // someThing
w.hyphenCase("some_thing")                        // some-thing
w.snakeCase("someThing")                          // some_thing
w.humanCase("fromA_to-Z")                         // from A to Z


Replace all white-space in a string with a single space character.

w.collapse("this   \t\t and \n    that")          // this and that


Provide quick access to different typographic glyphs without the need to commit them to memory or look at a reference table. You can also transform a character into it’s HTML encoded equivalent.

w.glyphs()                                        // Create map of ASCII glyphs
w.glyph("!")                                      // !


Add soft hyphens every n characters so that the CSS attribute hyphens: manual will allow for nice breaks in long strings of text. This is especially useful on mobile devices, where long strings can break the layout. Soft hyphens are only visible when they break a word at the end of the line.

// antidisest%C2%ADablishm...


Group strings into a grammatically correct list with an arbitrary limit. The final example shows all the possible options available.

w.prettyList(["Ben", "Bob"])                      // Ben and Bob
w.prettyList(["Ben", "Bob", "Bill"])              // Ben, Bob and Bill
w.prettyList(["Ben", "Bob", "Bill", "Max"], 2)    // Ben, Bob and 2 more
w.prettyList(["Ben", "Bob"], 1, {more: "other"})  # Ben and 1 other

// Document 1 & two other files
  {file: "Document 1"},
  {file: "Document 2"},
  {file: "Document 3"}
], 1, {
  amp: "&"
  written: true,
  more: "other file",
  quantify: true,
  key: "file"


Format a number in various ways and parse one from a string.

w.prettyNumber(1000)                              // 1,000
w.prettyNumber(10.5, 2)                           // 10.50
w.prettyNumber(9999, " ", 2, ",")                 // 9 999,00

w.prettyPrice(4)                                  // $4.00
w.prettyPrice(1200, "£")                          // £1,200.00
w.prettyPrice(                                    // €4<sup>00</sup>
      currency: "€",
      wrap: "sup"

w.parseNumber(1000)                               // 1000
w.parseNumber("1,000.00")                         // 1000
w.parseNumber("99%")                              // 0.99
w.parseNumber("some 44,000 participants")         // 44000


Convert a number from it’s cardinal to ordinal equivalent.

w.ordinal(1)                                      // 1st
w.ordinal(2, {written: true})                     // second
w.ordinal(3, {wrap: true})                        // 3<sup>rd</sup>
w.ordinal(4, {wrap: "em"})                        // 4<em>th</em>

A regular expression is used to determine the correct ordinal for any number. The first value in the returned array from match should give the index of the written number our dictionary of ordinals.


Add an “s” to a string when an amount is non-singular, disregarding the order of the arguments passsed.

w.quantify("monkey", 1)                           // 1 monkey
w.quantify(1, "monkey")                           // 1 monkey
w.quantify("monkey", 9, {written: true})          // nine monkeys
w.quantify("person", 9, {plural: "people"})       // 9 people


Wrap a string in single or double quotes, guillemets (angle quotes), or inverted marks for Spanish.

w.quote("pastry chef", "s")                       // ‘pastry chef’
w.quote("cats cradle")                            // “cats cradle”
w.quote("tres chic", "a")                         // «tres chic»
w.quote("Gol", "!")                               // ¡Gol!
w.quote("Cómo estás", "?")                        // ¿Cómo estás?


Enclose a string inside an HTML tag.

// <span>Hello world!</span>
w.wrapInTag("Hello world!")

// <em>Hello world!</em>
w.wrapInTag("Hello world!", "em")

// <a href="/url" class="b" disabled="disabled">Link</a>
  "a", {
    href: "/url",
    class: ["b"],
    disabled: true


enclose wraps a string within two other strings, repeating the first if needs be. cleanJoin joins an array of words (with falsy, non-string values removed) with some glue. Both are used internally but are exposed in case of their external value.

w.enclose("'", "string")                          // 'string'
w.cleanJoin(["this", null, "that"], " and ")      // this and that

Written Numbers

Convert numbers between one and twelve into their written counter-parts.

w.writtenNumber(1)                                // one
w.writtenNumber(2, "DE")                          // zwei

Some style guides prefer the numbers 12 and under to be written out, so we’ll include those in dictionary. If more or fewer numbers need to be added, or those from another language, see Language Support.

Language Support

Set cardinal and ordinal numbers and non-caps words for different languages as appropriate. The dictionary below shows the options passed for English support. See the other languages for support for gendered plurals and numbers.

const dictionary = {
  noncaps: /^(an|and|as|at|be|but|by|has|in|if|nor|of|off|on|or|out|per|the|to|up|was)$/,

  cardinals: {
    written: ["one", "two", "three", "four",
              "five", "six", "seven", "eight",
              "nine", "ten", "eleven", "twelve"]

  ordinals: {
    written: ["first", "second", "third", "fourth",
              "fifth", "sixth", "seventh", "eighth",
              "ninth", "tenth", "eleventh", "twelfth"]

    rule: /((1{0,1}[123])|(\d))\b/,

    suffixes: {
      "1": "st",
      "2": "nd",
      "3": "rd",
      "n": "th",

w.setLanguage(dictionary, "MyLanguage")

Please note that only partial support for French, German, Italian, Spanish and Swedish is currently implemented. If using in the browser, ensure that the document’s charset is set to UTF-8. Pull requests which extend language support are encouraged.

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