It seems that your technique is correct, it just may not be implemented correctly. I have created a small example page for you that has a simple form with a text area in it. In this example the value that is entered into the text area will appear on the page when the form is submitted. I have set the width of the div that the info is printed from to 150px. You can see that the text is always set to the width of the div it is in.
Perhaps you just need to do something similar and add in a div to explicitly set the size for the text to be displayed in.