UICollectionView is an object that manages an ordered collection of data items and presents them using customizable layouts. (UICollectionview documentation)

UICollectionView is a powerfull user interface building tool. User interface often requires to show UICollectionViewCells wit content-based height.

As you can see, there are different solutions. After some research on the topic I stopped on the solution below, which looks stable and safe.

Case study

Create an applications to display Samuel L. Jacksons quotes. (We’ll take if from https://slipsum.com). Each quote should be displayed in separate UICollectionViewCell. Cell should be properly sized to fit the quote. UICollectionViewCell and contained IULabel should have bounding borders.

Another words, we will solve dynamic UICollectionViewCell height problem for fixed width cell.


Create new XCode project (Use Swift language). Replace your AppDelegate.swift code with the following:


import UIKit

class AppDelegate: UIResponder, UIApplicationDelegate {

    var window: UIWindow?
    var navigationController: UINavigationController?
    func application(_ application: UIApplication, didFinishLaunchingWithOptions launchOptions: [UIApplication.LaunchOptionsKey: Any]?) -> Bool {
        window = UIWindow(frame: UIScreen.main.bounds)
        if let window = window {
            let vc = ViewController()
            navigationController = UINavigationController(rootViewController: vc)
            window.rootViewController = navigationController
        return true


import UIKit

let samuelQuotes = [
    "Normally, both your asses would be dead as fucking fried chicken, but you happen to pull this shit while I'm in a transitional period so I don't wanna kill you, I wanna help you. But I can't give you this case, it don't belong to me. Besides, I've already been through too much shit this morning over this case to hand it over to your dumb ass.",
    "Well, the way they make shows is, they make one show. That show's called a pilot.",
    "My money's in that office, right? If she start giving me some bullshit about it ain't there, and we got to go someplace else and get it, I'm gonna shoot you in the head then and there.",
    "The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men.",
    "And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy My brothers. And you will know My name is the Lord when I lay My vengeance upon thee."

class ViewController: UIViewController, UICollectionViewDataSource, UICollectionViewDelegateFlowLayout {
    private(set) var collectionView: UICollectionView
    // Initializers
    init() {
        // Create new `UICollectionView` and set `UICollectionViewFlowLayout` as its layout
        collectionView = UICollectionView(frame: .zero, collectionViewLayout: UICollectionViewFlowLayout())
        super.init(nibName: nil, bundle: nil)
    required init?(coder aDecoder: NSCoder) {
        // Create new `UICollectionView` and set `UICollectionViewFlowLayout` as its layout
        collectionView = UICollectionView(frame: .zero, collectionViewLayout: UICollectionViewFlowLayout())
        super.init(coder: aDecoder)
    override func viewDidLoad() {
        title = "Dynamic size sample"
        // Register Cells
        collectionView.register(MultilineLabelCell.self, forCellWithReuseIdentifier: MultilineLabelCell.reuseId)
        // Add `coolectionView` to display hierarchy and setup its appearance
        collectionView.backgroundColor = .white
        collectionView.contentInsetAdjustmentBehavior = .always
        collectionView.contentInset = UIEdgeInsets(top: 10, left: 10, bottom: 10, right: 10)
        // Setup Autolayout constraints
        collectionView.translatesAutoresizingMaskIntoConstraints = false
        collectionView.bottomAnchor.constraint(equalTo: view.bottomAnchor, constant: 0).isActive = true
        collectionView.leftAnchor.constraint(equalTo: view.leftAnchor, constant: 0).isActive = true
        collectionView.topAnchor.constraint(equalTo: view.topAnchor, constant: 0).isActive = true
        collectionView.rightAnchor.constraint(equalTo: view.rightAnchor, constant: 0).isActive = true
        // Setup `dataSource` and `delegate`
        collectionView.dataSource = self
        collectionView.delegate = self
        (collectionView.collectionViewLayout as! UICollectionViewFlowLayout).estimatedItemSize = UICollectionViewFlowLayout.automaticSize
        (collectionView.collectionViewLayout as! UICollectionViewFlowLayout).sectionInsetReference = .fromLayoutMargins
    // MARK: - UICollectionViewDataSource -
    func collectionView(_ collectionView: UICollectionView, cellForItemAt indexPath: IndexPath) -> UICollectionViewCell {
        let cell = collectionView.dequeueReusableCell(withReuseIdentifier: MultilineLabelCell.reuseId, for: indexPath) as! MultilineLabelCell
        cell.configure(text: samuelQuotes[indexPath.row])
        return cell
    func collectionView(_ collectionView: UICollectionView, numberOfItemsInSection section: Int) -> Int {
        return samuelQuotes.count
    // MARK: - UICollectionViewDelegateFlowLayout -
    func collectionView(_ collectionView: UICollectionView, layout collectionViewLayout: UICollectionViewLayout, sizeForItemAt indexPath: IndexPath) -> CGSize {
        let sectionInset = (collectionViewLayout as! UICollectionViewFlowLayout).sectionInset
        let referenceHeight: CGFloat = 100 // Approximate height of your cell
        let referenceWidth = collectionView.safeAreaLayoutGuide.layoutFrame.width
            - sectionInset.left
            - sectionInset.right
            - collectionView.contentInset.left
            - collectionView.contentInset.right
        return CGSize(width: referenceWidth, height: referenceHeight)


import UIKit

class MultilineLabelCell: UICollectionViewCell {
    static let reuseId = "MultilineLabelCellReuseId"
    private let label: UILabel = UILabel(frame: .zero)
    override init(frame: CGRect) {
        super.init(frame: frame)
        layer.borderColor = UIColor.red.cgColor
        layer.borderWidth = 1.0
        label.numberOfLines = 0
        label.lineBreakMode = .byWordWrapping
        let labelInset = UIEdgeInsets(top: 10, left: 10, bottom: -10, right: -10)
        label.translatesAutoresizingMaskIntoConstraints = false
        label.topAnchor.constraint(equalTo: contentView.layoutMarginsGuide.topAnchor, constant: labelInset.top).isActive = true
        label.leadingAnchor.constraint(equalTo: contentView.layoutMarginsGuide.leadingAnchor, constant: labelInset.left).isActive = true
        label.trailingAnchor.constraint(equalTo: contentView.layoutMarginsGuide.trailingAnchor, constant: labelInset.right).isActive = true
        label.bottomAnchor.constraint(equalTo: contentView.layoutMarginsGuide.bottomAnchor, constant: labelInset.bottom).isActive = true
        label.layer.borderColor = UIColor.black.cgColor
        label.layer.borderWidth = 1.0
    required init?(coder aDecoder: NSCoder) {
        fatalError("Storyboards are quicker, easier, more seductive. Not stronger then Code.")
    func configure(text: String?) {
        label.text = text
    override func preferredLayoutAttributesFitting(_ layoutAttributes: UICollectionViewLayoutAttributes) -> UICollectionViewLayoutAttributes {
        label.preferredMaxLayoutWidth = layoutAttributes.size.width - contentView.layoutMargins.left - contentView.layoutMargins.left
        layoutAttributes.bounds.size.height = systemLayoutSizeFitting(UIView.layoutFittingCompressedSize).height
        return layoutAttributes

The result

Works both screen orientations:





Source code

Download from Github

Further reading