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Cover image for CSS Glitchy Text Reveal in 3 minutes 😎
Jhey Tompkins
Jhey Tompkins

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CSS Glitchy Text Reveal in 3 minutes 😎

Looking for an interesting text animation on your next project? In this post, we’re going to make the following text reveal animation.

Glitchy text reveal in action

Glitchy text reveal in action 😎

To do this, we’ll leverage the power of CSS variable scope 💪

Link to "The Power (and fun) of scope with CSS custom properties" article by Jhey Tompkins on CSS Tricks

For those in camp TL;DR, scroll down for the demos & code 👍


This effect is achievable with only HTML & CSS. I’m using a little JavaScript to enhance the markup. It makes things different on each refresh. I’ll also share a non-JavaScript version though 👍


The first thing we need is some markup ✅

<p>Glitchy Text Reveal!</p>
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Here’s that JavaScript.

const { Splitting } = window
const RESULTS = Splitting()
// Set of characters we can use to glitch through
const GLITCH_CHARS = '`¡™£¢∞§¶•ªº–≠åß∂ƒ©˙∆˚¬…æ≈ç√∫˜µ≤≥÷/?░▒▓<>/'.split('')
// Loop through our Splitting results and apply CSS variables.
// The results contain an Array of spans that are the characters.
for (let r = 0; r < RESULTS.length; r++) {
  const CHARS = RESULTS[r].chars
  for (let c = 0; c < CHARS.length; c++) {
    // We are going to inline 10 CSS variables
    for (let g = 0; g < 10; g++) {
        `"${GLITCH_CHARS[Math.floor(Math.random() * GLITCH_CHARS.length)]}"`
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We are using the brilliant Splitting.js to slice up our text into spans.

This enables us to select individual characters 😎 Once we have the result, we loop over the character elements and apply inline CSS variables. These variables dictate what glitchy characters should show.

The resulting markup for a character might look something like this.

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First, we need to style up a pseudo-element to duplicate our character. Then, we hide the original.

[data-char] {
  color: transparent;
  position: relative;
[data-char]:after {
  --txt: attr(data-char);
  animation-duration: 0.2s;
  animation-delay: 0.5s;
  animation-timing-function: steps(1);
  animation-fill-mode: backwards;
  content: var(--txt);
  color: var(--color);
  position: absolute;
  left: 0;
  top: 0;
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Note how the content is being filled with a CSS variable 👍

Here’s the trick. We are going to leverage CSS variable scope to create a "One animation fits all" type of scenario. We define one set of keyframes that will switch out the content property. How does it know what to switch to? It will reference those inline variables we set earlier 😉

@keyframes glitch-switch {
  0% { content: var(--char-0); }
  10% { content: var(--char-1); }
  20% { content: var(--char-2); }
  30% { content: var(--char-3); }
  40% { content: var(--char-4); }
  50% { content: var(--char-5); }
  60% { content: var(--char-6); }
  70% { content: var(--char-7); }
  80% { content: var(--char-8); }
  90% { content: var(--char-9); }
  100% { content: var(--char-0); }
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That’s it!

Glitchy text reveal where all characters appear at same time

It’s not very interesting though is it? Let’s play with animation-iteration-count to change the effect. How about a random iteration count defined by an inline CSS variable?

We could inline a count variable like this;

CHARS[c].style.setProperty('--count', Math.random() * 5 + 1)
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And then apply it in our CSS;

animation-iteration-count: var(--count);
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Giving us something like this! 🎉
Glitchy text reveal in action


It’s worth mentioning how to make this accessible. The simplest solution will be to duplicate the text and apply aria-hidden to our glitchy text 👍


A CSS glitchy text reveal in 3 minutes! Be sure to check out the demo for different timing behaviors.

As always, any questions or suggestions, please feel free to leave a response or tweet me 🐦! And be sure to connect with me on the socials! 🤓

And here’s that CSS only version 😉 You’d thought I forgot hadn't you? Until next time 👋

Top comments (7)

crimsonmed profile image
Médéric Burlet

At first I got scared when you said you were using JS because its easy to have a CSS only approach to this.

But you did catch me by surprise with the last codepen~

jh3y profile image
Jhey Tompkins

Yeah totally 👍 That's why I put the disclaimer in 😅

Normally, I'll use something like Pug or Splitting.js purely to save me a little time and keep things random.

grupphaus profile image


jh3y profile image
Jhey Tompkins

Thanks! 😊

penandpapers profile image

That was really cool animation. Great work!

sduduzog profile image

Thank you for inspiring my next portfolio design 😁

jh3y profile image
Jhey Tompkins

No problem, glad you like it! 😊 Think I might use it for something similar.