Link Underline Hovers

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Folks often mention the links on this website after they have had some time to poke around. People like how the underline doesn't go through the descenders of the text. Or they will say they enjoy the small animation. I thought I'd write a post about how I did this. I need to point out that everything I'll be talking about works great in Chrome, Edge, and Firefox. Safari links look just fine, but they look a bit different. More on that below.


I find that the css property text-underline-offset isn't used that often. It allows you set the distance the underline appears from the text. You'll need to have text-decoration set to underline if this isn't happening already. It will take any valid length with a specified unit. Negative values are accepted as well. text-underline-offset works in all of the major browsers.

a {
text-underline-offset: 0.5em;

A thicker underline

On this website, I have thickened up the underline. I did this with the text-decoration property.

a {
text-decoration: underline 0.15em;

The second value in the text-decoration property is not supported in Safari, so it will just have the standard size.

Animating the underline

I set the text-underline-offset property to be a custom property, --offset. I registered this custom property by using @property. Doing so will register the property for me to set later. Then we change the value of --offset on hover.

@property --offset {
syntax: '<length>';
inherits: false;
initial-value: 0;

text-underline-offset: var(--offset, 0.1em);
transition: --offset 300ms;

--offset: 0.2em;

Running a transition on the text-underline-offset property won't work in Safari, so the underline doesn't animate smoothly.

See this post on for a lot more details.