I have a Tasks List, and the text ends up in the Description field.
The problem is that when I display the task, the Description field displays all the text.
I'd like to just have 40 or 60 characters or so display.

I've tried to create another field with a calculation value of =LEFT(Description,45), but you can't access Multi-Line fields in a calculated column.

Any ways to do this without programming?

If I need to code it, what do I need to do?

2 Answers 2


Use an XLST data view (you can turn a regular view into XSLT using SPD) and then truncate your value using XSL

  • While I didn't use this, I appreciate the help. Commented Jul 13, 2010 at 18:12

Here's how to do it, and yes it's a little complicated:

First, create a single-line text column, I'll call it Content

Second, create a calculated column, I'll call it ContentCalc, set the formula to =[Content]

Third, delete the first column Content, then recreate it as a multi-line text column

Fourth, create a third column, I'll call it Summary, and set the formula to =LEFT([ContentCalc],60), with 60 being any number of chars you want to truncate it to

Finally, to get rid of the <div> stuff, insert the following source into a Content Editor Web Part placed under the list:

<script type="text/javascript">
  var theTDs = document.getElementsByTagName("TD");
  var i=0;
  var TDContent = " ";
  while (i < theTDs.length)
      TDContent = theTDs[i].innerText || theTDs[i].textContent;
      if (TDContent.indexOf("<div") == 0)
          theTDs[i].innerHTML = TDContent;

I got the bulk of this from this link, but I had to mod the instructions a little, and it still took a while to implement exactly right.

Then, if you want to keep the Calc columns from displaying in the Display form, you'll have to create a custom form.

NOTE: This javascript doesn't work for Extended Rich Text because it affects after the truncation, and the div tag is too long for the amount I was truncating. By extending the amount of chars in my truncation I was able to get it to work mostly. There are still some edge cases I haven't figured out completely yet.

  • The <div still showing w/in the Summary column. How could I remove it? Sam
    – user3826
    Commented Jun 21, 2011 at 18:48
  • @sam, You have to exactly follow the first few steps. Then double check your JavaScript. Commented Jun 21, 2011 at 20:51

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