Show some character! (in your #SharePoint site navigation)

Char-headerThe other day I was helping someone design their SharePoint site. It struck me that the labels she wanted to use in the navigation were very long, and although they could technically be added, they displayed badly. They used more than one line and it was not clear which text belonged to which navigation item.

I could not tell her how many characters she could use, and I could also not find it described anywhere, so I had to check it out myself.
So, here’s a few numbers for navigation items on a site’s Homepage (and I wish WordPress had a nice table for this):

Current navigation / Quick Launch (vertical)

  1. In Classic sites you can add 256 characters and they will all be displayed – breaking off at 24 characters, without indent.
    With indent, 22 characters are shown per line.

    Char-Classic-QuickLaunch
    Left: Classic Quick Launch with 24 chars per line; Right: Classic Quick Launch with indent and 22 chars per line.
  2. In Modern sites you can add 256 characters but only 19 will be displayed – when you hover over the item 50 characters will be shown. When making this a sub-link, 16 chars are shown.
    Char-Modern-QuickLaunch
    Modern Quick Launch with the displayed link in yellow, and the extended link when you hover over it, in blue.

    char-ModernQuickLaunchsublink
    A sublink will display 16 characters.

Global navigation (horizontal)

  1. In Classic sites you can add 256 characters and they will all be displayed on top of the site – looking absolutely horrible and causing a horizontal scroll bar.

    Chars-ClassicHorizontal
    All 256 characters displayed in this link – wish they weren’t!
  2.  In Modern sites (Communication sites only) you can also add 256 characters but none of them will be displayed, instead you can click on the … and you will see the link title.
    When you have a shorter link (In this case Site Contents) to the left of the long one, the shorter one will be displayed, but if you position the shorter one to the right of the long one, it will be hidden and I could not find a way to make it appear.

    Char-ModernHorizontalsitecontents
    The link can only be shown when you click the …
    Char-ModernHorizontal
    In this case I have moved the Site Contents to the right of the long link. It does not show up, and even when I click the … I do not see Site Contents, although the height of the hover-over indicates there should be another menu item on the left.

    It turns out that 118 characters can be added until the link disappears.

    Char-ModernHorizontaldisplayed
    When you enter no more than 118 characters, the title will be displayed.

But…it depends…

The display of the Quick Launch (vertical) navigation is not depending on browser or computer settings.

In Modern sites horizontal navigation however, the display is depending on settings:

  • When I change the text and app settings (Scaling) to 100 instead of the recommended and used 125, hidden items becomes visible.
  • When I change to a lower resolution than my current 1920 * 1080, less is displayed and my long title hides behind the ellipses.
  • When I lower my browser zoom to 75% (Edge) hidden items becomes visible again and when I increase it to 125%,  the long title is hidden again.

This will make it fun to support Communication sites. “Look, there is an item in the horizontal navigation but my colleague does not see it”.
SharePoint Holmes is rubbing his hands already 🙂

The exact number of characters displayed may also vary when you use a non-default font, of course.

Tips for navigation item titles

With this in mind, I have to mention a few things about the navigation titles you use.

  • Keep titles short, try to keep below 16 characters if you want to have one line per navigation item (which keeps navigation short and readable).
  • Make sure that the most important words are in the beginning of your title.
  • Do not use your company name if your labeling is for internal content only.
    If you are storing competitive information, or contracts, or customer information, using company names is essential, but in general, your intranet will only be hosting content for your company.
  • Do not use your department name if your site is for/from that department only.  Do not use “HR request forms”, “HR policies” if your site has HR written all over it. Just use  “Request forms” and “Policies”.
  • Do not write your titles in ALL-CAPS. It makes words harder to read as capitals are more square and uniform. They miss the ascenders and descenders that give extra information about the letter.

Well, this was fun. I may do this for other elements as well!

Photo by Mike Bird from Pexels.

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