iOS UILabel Calculate Content Bounds (for i.e. dynamic cell heights)

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A common use case for wanting to calculate the frame a label will take up is for sizing table view cells appropriately. The recommended way of doing this is using the NSString method boundingRectWithSize:options:attributes:context:.

options takes String drawing options:

  • NSStringDrawingUsesLineFragmentOrigin should be used for labels with multiple lines
  • NSStringDrawingTruncatesLastVisibleLine should be added using the | operator if there are a maximum number of lines

attributes is an NSDictionary of attributes that effect attributed strings (full list: Apple Docs) but the factors that effect height include:

  • NSFontAttributeName: Very important, the size and font family is a critical part of the label's displayed size.

  • NSParagraphStyleAttributeName: For customizing how the text is displayed. This includes line spacing, text alignment, truncation style, and a few other options. If you did not explicitly change any of these values you should not have to worry about this much, but may be important if you toggled some values on IB.

context should be nil since the primary NSStringDrawingContext use case is for allowing font to resize to fit a specified rect, which shouldn't be the case if we're calculating a dynamic height.

Objective C

- (CGFloat)tableView:(UITableView *)tableView heightForRowAtIndexPath:(NSIndexPath *)indexPath {
    UITableViewCell *cell = [tableView cellForRowAtIndexPath:indexPath];

    NSString *labelContent = cell.theLabel.text;
    // you may choose to get the content directly from the data source if you have done minimal customizations to the font or are comfortable with hardcoding a few values
//    NSString *labelContent = [self.dataSource objectAtIndexPath:indexPath];
    // value may be hardcoded if retrieved from data source
    NSFont *labelFont = [cell.theLabel font];
    // The NSParagraphStyle, even if you did not code any changes these values may have been altered in IB
    NSMutableParagraphStyle *paragraphStyle = [NSMutableParagraphStyle new];
    paragraphStyle.lineBreakMode = NSLineBreakByWordWrapping; 
    paragraphStyle.alignment = NSTextAlignmentCenter;

    NSDictionary *attributes = @{NSFontAttributeName: labelFont,
                                 NSParagraphStyleAttributeName: paragraphStyle};

    // The width is also important to the height
    CGFloat labelWidth = CGRectGetWidth(cell.theLabel.frame);
    // If you have been hardcoding up to this point you will be able to get this value by subtracting the padding on left and right from tableView.bounds.size.width
//    CGFloat labelWidth = CGRectGetWidth(tableView.frame) - 20.0f - 20.0f;

    CGRect bodyBounds = [labelContent boundingRectWithSize:CGSizeMake(width, CGFLOAT_MAX) options:NSStringDrawingUsesLineFragmentOrigin attributes:attributes context:nil];

    return CGRectGetHeight(bodyBounds) + heightOfObjectsOnTopOfLabel + heightOfObjectBelowLabel;

Swfit 3

override func tableView(_ tableView: UITableView, heightForRowAt indexPath: IndexPath) -> CGFloat {
    var cell = tableView.cellForRow(atIndexPath: indexPath)!
    var labelContent = cell.theLabel.text
    var labelFont = cell.theLabel.font
    var paragraphStyle = NSMutableParagraphStyle()

    paragraphStyle.lineBreakMode = .byWordWrapping
    paragraphStyle.alignment = .center

    var attributes = [NSFontAttributeName: labelFont, NSParagraphStyleAttributeName: paragraphStyle]

    var labelWidth: CGFloat = cell.theLabel.frame.width

    var bodyBounds = labelContent.boundingRect(withSize: CGSize(width: width, height: CGFLOAT_MAX), options: .usesLineFragmentOrigin, attributes: attributes, context: nil)

    return bodyBounds.height + heightOfObjectsOnTopOfLabel + heightOfObjectBelowLabel

Conversely, if you do have a set maximum number of lines you will first need calculate the height of a single line to make sure we don't get a value taller than the allowed size:

    // We calculate the height of a line by omitting the NSStringDrawingUsesLineFragmentOrigin option, which will assume an infinitely wide label
    CGRect singleLineRect = [labelContent boundingRectWithSize:CGSizeMake(CGFLOAT_MAX, CGFLOAT_MAX)
    CGFloat lineHeight = CGRectGetHeight(singleLineRect);
    CGFloat maxHeight = lineHeight * cell.theLabel.numberOfLines;

    // Now you can call the method appropriately
    CGRect bodyBounds = [labelContent boundingRectWithSize:CGSizeMake(width, maxHeight) options:(NSStringDrawingUsesLineFragmentOrigin|NSStringDrawingTruncatesLastVisibleLine) attributes:attributes context:nil];

    return CGRectGetHeight(bodyBounds) + heightOfObjectsOnTopOfLabel + heightOfObjectBelowLabel;

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