I am trying to make a simple Coffee Calculator. I need to display the amount of coffee in grams. The "g" symbol for grams needs to be attached to my UILabel that I am using to display the amount. The numbers in the UILabel are changing dynamically with user input just fine, but I need to add a lower case "g" on the end of the string that is formatted differently from the updating numbers. The "g" needs to be attached to the numbers so that as the number size and position changes, the "g" "moves" with the numbers. I'm sure this problem has been solved before so a link in the right direction would be helpful as I've googled my little heart out.

I've searched through the documentation for an attributed string and I even downloded an "Attributed String Creator" from the app store, but the resulting code is in Objective-C and I am using Swift. What would be awesome, and probably helpful to other developers learning this language, is a clear example of creating a custom font with custom attributes using an attributed string in Swift. The documentation for this is very confusing as there is not a very clear path on how to do so. My plan is to create the attributed string and add it to the end of my coffeeAmount string.

var coffeeAmount: String = calculatedCoffee + attributedText

Where calculatedCoffee is an Int converted to a string and "attributedText" is the lowercase "g" with customized font that I am trying to create. Maybe I'm going about this the wrong way. Any help is appreciated!

16 Answers 11

Swift uses the same NSMutableAttributedString that Obj-C does. You instantiate it by passing in the calculated value as a string:

var attributedString = NSMutableAttributedString(string:"\(calculatedCoffee)")

Now create the attributed g string (heh). Note: UIFont.systemFontOfSize(_) is now a failable initializer, so it has to be unwrapped before you can use it:

var attrs = [NSFontAttributeName : UIFont.systemFontOfSize(19.0)!]
var gString = NSMutableAttributedString(string:"g", attributes:attrs)

And then append it:


You can then set the UILabel to display the NSAttributedString like this:

myLabel.attributedText = attributedString
//Part 1 Set Up The Lower Case g var coffeeText = NSMutableAttributedString(string:"\(calculateCoffee())") //Part 2 set the font attributes for the lower case g var coffeeTypeFaceAttributes = [NSFontAttributeName : UIFont.systemFontOfSize(18)] //Part 3 create the "g" character and give it the attributes var coffeeG = NSMutableAttributedString(string:"g", attributes:coffeeTypeFaceAttributes) When I set my UILabel.text = coffeeText I get an error "NSMutableAttributedString is not convertable to 'String'. Is there a way to make the UILabel accept NSMutableAttributedString? – dcbenji
8 upvote
When you have an attributed string, you need to set the label's attributedText property instead of its text property. – NRitH
1 upvote
This worked properly and my lower case "g" is now appeneding to the end of my coffee amount text – dcbenji
2 upvote
For some reason I get an error "extra argument in call" on my line with the NSAttributedString. This only happens when I switch the UIFont.systemFontOfSize(18) to UIFont(name: "Arial", size: 20). Any ideas? – Unome
UIFont(name: size:) is a failable initialiser and may return nil. You can either explicitly unwrap it by adding ! on the end or bind it to a variable with an if/let statement before you insert it into the dictionary. – Ash

Works well in beta 6

let attrString = NSAttributedString(
    string: "title-title-title",
    attributes: NSDictionary(
       object: NSFont(name: "Arial", size: 12.0), 
       forKey: NSFontAttributeName))

I did it this way in XCode 6:

let attriString = NSAttributedString(string:"attriString", attributes:
[NSForegroundColorAttributeName: UIColor.lightGrayColor(), 
            NSFontAttributeName: AttriFont])
Perfect code!!! – Marco Almeida

Swift: xcode 6.1

    let font:UIFont? = UIFont(name: "Arial", size: 12.0)

    let attrString = NSAttributedString(
        string: titleData,
        attributes: NSDictionary(
            object: font!,
            forKey: NSFontAttributeName))
 let attrString = NSAttributedString (
            string: "title-title-title",
            attributes: [NSForegroundColorAttributeName: UIColor.blackColor()])

For me above solutions didn't work when setting a specific color or property.

This did work:

let attributes = [
    NSFontAttributeName : UIFont(name: "Helvetica Neue", size: 12.0)!,
    NSUnderlineStyleAttributeName : 1,
    NSForegroundColorAttributeName : UIColor.darkGrayColor(),
    NSTextEffectAttributeName : NSTextEffectLetterpressStyle,
    NSStrokeWidthAttributeName : 3.0]

var atriString = NSAttributedString(string: "My Attributed String", attributes: attributes)
But this didn't work in textview – Uma Madhavi

enter image description here

This answer has been updated for Swift 4.0.

Quick Reference

The general form for making and setting an attributed string is like this. You can find other common options below.

// create attributed string
let myString = "Swift Attributed String"
let myAttribute = [ NSAttributedStringKey.foregroundColor: UIColor.blue ]
let myAttrString = NSAttributedString(string: myString, attributes: myAttribute) 

// set attributed text on a UILabel
myLabel.attributedText = myAttrString

Text Color

let myAttribute = [ NSAttributedStringKey.foregroundColor: UIColor.blue ]

Background Color

let myAttribute = [ NSAttributedStringKey.backgroundColor: UIColor.yellow ]


let myAttribute = [ NSAttributedStringKey.font: UIFont(name: "Chalkduster", size: 18.0)! ]

enter image description here

let myAttribute = [ NSAttributedStringKey.underlineStyle: NSUnderlineStyle.styleSingle.rawValue ]

enter image description here

let myShadow = NSShadow()
myShadow.shadowBlurRadius = 3
myShadow.shadowOffset = CGSize(width: 3, height: 3)
myShadow.shadowColor = UIColor.gray

let myAttribute = [ NSAttributedStringKey.shadow: myShadow ]

The rest of this post gives more detail for those who are interested.


String attributes are just a dictionary in the form of [NSAttributedStringKey: Any], where NSAttributedStringKey is the key name of the attribute and Any is the value of some Type. The value could be a font, a color, an integer, or something else. There are many standard attributes in Swift that have already been predefined. For example:

  • key name: NSAttributedStringKey.font, value: a UIFont
  • key name: NSAttributedStringKey.foregroundColor, value: a UIColor
  • key name: NSAttributedStringKey.link, value: an NSURL or String

There are many others. See this link for more. You can even make your own custom attributes like:

  • key name: NSAttributedStringKey.myName, value: some Type.
    if you make an extension:

    extension NSAttributedStringKey {
        static let myName = NSAttributedStringKey(rawValue: "myCustomAttributeKey")

Creating attributes in Swift

You can declare attributes just like declaring any other dictionary.

// single attributes declared one at a time
let singleAttribute1 = [ NSAttributedStringKey.foregroundColor: UIColor.green ]
let singleAttribute2 = [ NSAttributedStringKey.backgroundColor: UIColor.yellow ]
let singleAttribute3 = [ NSAttributedStringKey.underlineStyle: NSUnderlineStyle.styleDouble.rawValue ]

// multiple attributes declared at once
let multipleAttributes: [NSAttributedStringKey : Any] = [
    NSAttributedStringKey.foregroundColor: UIColor.green,
    NSAttributedStringKey.backgroundColor: UIColor.yellow,
    NSAttributedStringKey.underlineStyle: NSUnderlineStyle.styleDouble.rawValue ]

// custom attribute
let customAttribute = [ NSAttributedStringKey.myName: "Some value" ]

Note the rawValue that was needed for the underline style value.

Because attributes are just Dictionaries, you can also create them by making an empty Dictionary and then adding key-value pairs to it. If the value will contain multiple types, then you have to use Any as the type. Here is the multipleAttributes example from above, recreated in this fashion:

var multipleAttributes = [NSAttributedStringKey : Any]()
multipleAttributes[NSAttributedStringKey.foregroundColor] = UIColor.green
multipleAttributes[NSAttributedStringKey.backgroundColor] = UIColor.yellow
multipleAttributes[NSAttributedStringKey.underlineStyle] = NSUnderlineStyle.styleDouble.rawValue

Attributed Strings

Now that you understand attributes, you can make attributed strings.


There are a few ways to create attributed strings. If you just need a read-only string you can use NSAttributedString. Here are some ways to initialize it:

// Initialize with a string only
let attrString1 = NSAttributedString(string: "Hello.")

// Initialize with a string and inline attribute(s)
let attrString2 = NSAttributedString(string: "Hello.", attributes: [NSAttributedStringKey.myName: "A value"])

// Initialize with a string and separately declared attribute(s)
let myAttributes1 = [ NSAttributedStringKey.foregroundColor: UIColor.green ]
let attrString3 = NSAttributedString(string: "Hello.", attributes: myAttributes1)

If you will need to change the attributes or the string content later, you should use NSMutableAttributedString. The declarations are very similar:

// Create a blank attributed string
let mutableAttrString1 = NSMutableAttributedString()

// Initialize with a string only
let mutableAttrString2 = NSMutableAttributedString(string: "Hello.")

// Initialize with a string and inline attribute(s)
let mutableAttrString3 = NSMutableAttributedString(string: "Hello.", attributes: [NSAttributedStringKey.myName: "A value"])

// Initialize with a string and separately declared attribute(s)
let myAttributes2 = [ NSAttributedStringKey.foregroundColor: UIColor.green ]
let mutableAttrString4 = NSMutableAttributedString(string: "Hello.", attributes: myAttributes2)

Changing an Attributed String

As an example, let's create the attributed string at the top of this post.

First create an NSMutableAttributedString with a new font attribute.

let myAttribute = [ NSAttributedStringKey.font: UIFont(name: "Chalkduster", size: 18.0)! ]
let myString = NSMutableAttributedString(string: "Swift", attributes: myAttribute )

If you are working along, set the attributed string to a UITextView (or UILabel) like this:

textView.attributedText = myString

You don't use textView.text.

Here is the result:

enter image description here

Then append another attributed string that doesn't have any attributes set. (Notice that even though I used let to declare myString above, I can still modify it because it is an NSMutableAttributedString. This seems rather unSwiftlike to me and I wouldn't be surprised if this changes in the future. Leave me a comment when that happens.)

let attrString = NSAttributedString(string: " Attributed Strings")

enter image description here

Next we'll just select the "Strings" word, which starts at index 17 and has a length of 7. Notice that this is an NSRange and not a Swift Range. (See this answer for more about Ranges.) The addAttribute method lets us put the attribute key name in the first spot, the attribute value in the second spot, and the range in the third spot.

var myRange = NSRange(location: 17, length: 7) // range starting at location 17 with a lenth of 7: "Strings"
myString.addAttribute(NSAttributedStringKey.foregroundColor, value: UIColor.red, range: myRange)

enter image description here

Finally, let's add a background color. For variety, let's use the addAttributes method (note the s). I could add multiple attributes at once with this method, but I will just add one again.

myRange = NSRange(location: 3, length: 17)
let anotherAttribute = [ NSAttributedStringKey.backgroundColor: UIColor.yellow ]
myString.addAttributes(anotherAttribute, range: myRange)

enter image description here

Notice that the attributes are overlapping in some places. Adding an attribute doesn't overwrite an attribute that is already there.


Further Reading

2 upvote
Note that you can combine several styles for underlining, e.g. NSUnderlineStyleAttributeName: NSUnderlineStyle.StyleSingle.rawValue | NSUnderlineStyle.PatternDot.rawValue – beeb
1 upvote
You can not use appendAttributedString on NSAttributedString it has to be on NSMutableAttributedString, can you update your answer to reflect this? – Joseph Astrahan
2 upvote
1) Super thanks for your answer. 2) I would suggest that you place textView.atrributedtText = myString or myLabel.attributedText = myString at the beginning of your answer. As a newbie I was just doing myLabel.text and didn't think I needed to go through all your answer.**3)** Does this mean that you can only have either attributedText or text as having them both would be meaningless? 4) I recommend that you also incorporate lineSpacing example like this in your answer as it's very useful. 5) ачаар дахин – Honey
1 upvote
The difference between append and add was confusing first. appendAttributedString is like 'String concatenation'. addAttribute is adding a new attribute to your string. – Honey
rawValue saved it for me. thanks – static0886

Swift 2.1 - Xcode 7

let labelFont = UIFont(name: "HelveticaNeue-Bold", size: 18)
let attributes :[String:AnyObject] = [NSFontAttributeName : labelFont!]
let attrString = NSAttributedString(string:"foo", attributes: attributes)
myLabel.attributedText = attrString
What changes were made between Swift 2.0 and 2.1? – Suragch

Swift 2.0

Here is a sample:

let newsString: NSMutableAttributedString = NSMutableAttributedString(string: "Tap here to read the latest Football News.")
newsString.addAttributes([NSUnderlineStyleAttributeName: NSUnderlineStyle.StyleDouble.rawValue], range: NSMakeRange(4, 4))
sampleLabel.attributedText = newsString.copy() as? NSAttributedString


let stringAttributes = [
    NSFontAttributeName : UIFont(name: "Helvetica Neue", size: 17.0)!,
    NSUnderlineStyleAttributeName : 1,
    NSForegroundColorAttributeName : UIColor.orangeColor(),
    NSTextEffectAttributeName : NSTextEffectLetterpressStyle,
    NSStrokeWidthAttributeName : 2.0]
let atrributedString = NSAttributedString(string: "Sample String: Attributed", attributes: stringAttributes)
sampleLabel.attributedText = atrributedString
extension UILabel{
    func setSubTextColor(pSubString : String, pColor : UIColor){    
        let attributedString: NSMutableAttributedString = self.attributedText != nil ? NSMutableAttributedString(attributedString: self.attributedText!) : NSMutableAttributedString(string: self.text!);

        let range = attributedString.mutableString.range(of: pSubString, options:NSString.CompareOptions.caseInsensitive)
        if range.location != NSNotFound {
            attributedString.addAttribute(NSForegroundColorAttributeName, value: pColor, range: range);
        self.attributedText = attributedString
cell.IBLabelGuestAppointmentTime.text = "\n\nGuest1\n8:00 am\n\nGuest2\n9:00Am\n\n" cell.IBLabelGuestAppointmentTime.setSubTextColor(pSubString: "Guest1", pColor: UIColor.white) cell.IBLabelGuestAppointmentTime.setSubTextColor(pSubString: "Guest2", pColor: UIColor.red) – Dipak Panchasara
1 upvote
Welcome to SO. Please format your code, and add some explanation/context to your answer. See: //allinonescript.com/help/how-to-answer – Uwe Allner

I would highly recommend using a library for attributed strings. It makes it much easier when you want, for example, one string with four different colors and four different fonts. Here is my favorite. It is called SwiftyAttributes

If you wanted to make a string with four different colors and different fonts using SwiftyAttributes:

let magenta = "Hello ".withAttributes([
    .font(.systemFont(ofSize: 15.0))
let cyan = "Sir ".withAttributes([
    .font(.boldSystemFont(ofSize: 15.0))
let green = "Lancelot".withAttributes([
    .font(.italicSystemFont(ofSize: 15.0))

let blue = "!".withAttributes([
    .font(.preferredFont(forTextStyle: UIFontTextStyle.headline))

let finalString = magenta + cyan + green + blue

finalString would show as

Shows as image

It will be really easy to solve your problem with the library I created. It is called Atributika.

let calculatedCoffee: Int = 768
let g = Style("g").font(.boldSystemFont(ofSize: 12)).foregroundColor(.red)
let all = Style.font(.systemFont(ofSize: 12))

let str = "\(calculatedCoffee)<g>g</g>".style(tags: g)

label.attributedText = str


You can find it here https://github.com/psharanda/Atributika

The attributes can be setting directly in swift 3...

    let attributes = NSAttributedString(string: "String", attributes: [NSFontAttributeName : UIFont(name: "AvenirNext-Medium", size: 30)!,
         NSForegroundColorAttributeName : UIColor .white,
         NSTextEffectAttributeName : NSTextEffectLetterpressStyle])

Then use the variable in any class with attributes

Swift 4:

let attributes = [NSAttributedStringKey.font: UIFont(name: "HelveticaNeue-Bold", size: 17)!, 
                  NSAttributedStringKey.foregroundColor: UIColor.white]

I created an online tool that is going to solve your problem! You can write your string and apply styles graphically and the tool gives you objective-c and swift code to generate that string.

Also is open source so feel free to extend it and send PRs.

Transformer Tool


enter image description here

The best way to approach Attributed Strings on iOS is by using the built-in Attributed Text editor in the interface builder and avoid uneccessary hardcoding NSAtrributedStringKeys in your source files.

You can later dynamically replace placehoderls at runtime by using this extension:

extension NSAttributedString {
    func replacing(placeholder:String, with valueString:String) -> NSAttributedString {

        if let range = self.string.range(of:placeholder) {
            let nsRange = NSRange(range,in:valueString)
            let mutableText = NSMutableAttributedString(attributedString: self)
            mutableText.replaceCharacters(in: nsRange, with: valueString)
            return mutableText as NSAttributedString
        return self

Add a storyboard label with attributed text looking like this.

enter image description here

Then you simply update the value each time you need like this:

label.attributedText = initalAttributedString.replacing(placeholder: "<price>", with: newValue)

Make sure to save into initalAttributedString the original value.

You can better understand this approach by reading this article: https://medium.com/mobile-appetite/text-attributes-on-ios-the-effortless-approach-ff086588173e

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