CSS Box Model

All elements on a web page are interpreted by the browser as residing “inside” of a box. This is called the box model.

The box model of the following factors:

  • Dimensions of an element’s box
  • Borders of an element’s box
  • Paddings of an element’s box
  • Margins of an element’s box

The box model comprises the set of properties that define parts of an element that take up space on a web page. Those properties are:

  1. width and height of the content area, which define how much horizontal and vertical space is reserved for the content area of the box. This area may or may not include padding and borders. Browser can determine width and height automatically.
  2. padding: the amount of space between the content area and the border. It is generally opaque and hides anything that it overlays.
  3. border surrounding content area and padding.
  4. margin: the amount of space (transparent area) between the border and the outside edge of the element.

Finally, the display property determines how the browser lays out the element relative to its neighbors.

+---------------------------------+
|             Margin              |
|  +---------------------------+  |
|  |          Border           |  |
|  |  +---------------------+  |  |
|  |  |       Padding       |  |  |
|  |  |  +---------------+  |  |  |
|  |  |  |               |+ |  |  |
|  |  |  |    Content    ||-|--|--|-- Height
|  |  |  |               |+ |  |  |
|  |  |  +---------------+  |  |  |
|  |  |   +-------------+   |  |  |
|  |  |          |          |  |  |
|  |  +---------------------+  |  |
|  |             |             |  |
|  +---------------------------+  |
|                |                |
+---------------------------------+
                 |
                 |
               Width

Center an Element

To center an element, one can use margin: 0 auto;. This will set the top and bottom margin to 0 pixels and adjust the left and right margins until the element is centered within its containing element.

To center an element, the width of the element must be set. If not set, the width of the element will be set to the full width of the containing element.

It is also not possible to center an element that takes up the full width of the page since the width change because of display and browser window size.

Margin Collapse

Top and bottom margins, also called vertical margins, collapse, while top and bottom padding does not.

In other words, two elements right next to each other with horizontal margins will see their margins add up to make a total margin. Two elements right one above the other with vertical margins, however, will have their larger of the two vertical margins sets the margin.

Difference Between visibility and display

There are two ways to remove an object from the page with CSS: display: none and visibility: hidden. The former will completely remove the element from the web page. The later will make the element not visible but will keep the space reserved for it.

In both case, the element will be visible in the source code.