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# String Pad in JavaScript

It's super easy to pad a string! Just pass in your desired string and length. The string will be padded until the length has been met. Use padStart to apply it at the start and padEnd to apply it at the end 🎀

const string = 'hi';

string.padStart(3, 'c'); // "chi"

string.padEnd(4, 'l'); // "hill"

# Syntax

This is the syntax of how to use the method.

string.padStart(<maxLength>, <padString>)

string.padEnd(<maxLength>, <padString>)

# Understanding the Parameters

padEnd and padStart accepts the same parameters.

# 1. maxLength

This is the max length of the result string.

const result = string.padStart(5);

result.length; // 5

When I was learning this, this took me a while to grasp. I kept thinking it was the amount of times the pad string argument would be repeated. So just want to stress that this parameter is setting the MAX or targeted length of the result string. It is NOT the amount the pad string is repeated. But you're way smarter than I am, so I'm sure you did not have this confusion 😆

# 2. padString

This is the string you want to pad your string with. This is optional. If you don't specify anything, the default would be an empty space.

'hi'.padStart(5);

// Same as
'hi'.padStart(5, ' ');

And if you try to pass an empty string, then no padding will happen.

const result = 'hi'.padStart(5, '');

result; // ''
result.length; // 2

# How it handles other data types

For the second parameter, padString, it accepts a string. If you try to pass any other data types. It will be coerced into a string using toString and that will be used. So let's see what happens when we use the toString on different value types.

// NUMBER
(100).toString(); // '100'

// BOOLEAN
true.toString();   // 'true'
false.toString();  // 'false'

// ARRAY
['A'].toString(); // 'A'
[''].toString();  // ''

// OBJECT
({}).toString();         // '[object Object]'
({hi: 'hi'}).toString(); // '[object Object]'

Now knowing this, let's see if pass these other value types to padStart (padEnd will have the same behaviour).

'SAM'.padStart(8, 100);    // '10010SAM'

'SAM'.padStart(8, true);   // 'truetSAM'
'SAM'.padStart(8, false);  // 'falseSAM'

'SAM'.padStart(5, ['']);   // 'SAM'
'SAM'.padStart(5, ['hi']); // 'hiSAM'

'SAM'.padStart(18, {});         // '[object Object]SAM'
'SAM'.padStart(18, {hi: 'hi'}); // '[object Object]SAM'

# Handling undefined

But here's an interesting one. When you try to coerce undefined, you will get a TypeError

undefined.toString(); // TypeError: Cannot read property 'toString' of undefined

But when you pass in undefined as your second argument, you get this:

'SAM'.padStart(10, undefined);
// '       SAM'

So when I said the padString argument will be coerced using toString, did I just lie to you 🙊 Well, let's dive into the spec:

ECMAScript Spec If fillString is undefined, let filler be the String value consisting solely of the code unit 0x0020 (SPACE).

Okay, so let me update what I said! Unless, it's undefined, everything other data type you passed will be coerced using toString 😉

# What if padString exceeds maxLength?

When the first argument maxLength doesn't allow enough length for your first argument, padString, it will simply be ignored.

'hi'.padEnd(2, 'SAM');
// 'hi'

Or if it would be cut off. Remember maxLength means the maximum length your padString is allowed to occupy minus what's being occupied by the string.

'hi'.padEnd(7, 'SAMANTHA');
// 'hiSAMAN'

And if your first argument, maxLength is less then your string, it will simply just return the string.

'hello'.padEnd(1, 'SAM');
// 'hello'

# padStart/padEnd vs padLeft/padRight

In a previous code note, I covered String Trim where I mentioned the trim methods had aliases.

  • trimLeft is an alias for trimStart
  • trimRight is an alias for trimEnd

But for string pad methods, there are no aliases. So do NOT use padLeft and padRight, they do not exist. It is also the reason why you are encouraged to not use the trim aliases so there is better consistency in your codebase 😄

# Use Case

# Tabular Formatting with padEnd

A good use case of the string pad methods is for formatting. I covered how to display string in tabular format.

# Right Aligning String with padStart

You can format right alignment with padStart.

console.log('JavaScript'.padStart(15));
console.log('HTML'.padStart(15));
console.log('CSS'.padStart(15));
console.log('Vue'.padStart(15));

This will output:

     JavaScript
           HTML
            CSS
            Vue

# Receipt formatting

With the knowledge of right alignment formatting, you can mimic a receipt print out like this:

const purchase = [
  ['Masks', '9.99'],
  ['Shirt', '20.00'],
  ['Jacket', '200.00'],
  ['Gloves', '10.00'],
];

purchase.forEach(([item, price]) => {
  console.log(item + price.padStart(20 - item.length));
});

This will output:

Masks           9.99
Shirt          20.00
Jacket        200.00
Gloves         10.00

# Masking Numbers

We can also use it to display masked numbers.

const bankNumber = '2222 2222 2222 2222';
const last4Digits = bankNumber.slice(-4);

last4Digits.padStart(bankNumber.length, '*');
// ***************2222

Thanks @cilly_boloe

# Browser Support

padStart and padEnd were introduced at the same time, so they share similar browser support. All but Internet Explorer, but are we really surprised 😅

Browser
Chrome
Firefox
Safari
Edge
Internet Explorer

# Polyfill

For IE or older browser support, please see this polyfill

# Community Input

@ljc_dev: I saw someone use it to add an extra zero in their clock when the number is one digit.

# Resources


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