The display Property

The display property is the most important CSS property for controlling layout.

The display property specifies if or how an element is displayed.

Every HTML element has a default display value depending on what type of element it is. The default display value for most elements is block or inline.

Block-level Elements

A block-level element always starts on a new line and takes up the full width available (stretches out to the left and right as far as it can).

The <div> element is a block-level element.

Examples of block-level elements:

  • <div>
  • <h1> – <h6>
  • <p>
  • <form>
  • <header>
  • <footer>
  • <section>

Inline Elements

An inline element does not start on a new line and only takes up as much width as necessary.

This is an inline <span> element inside a paragraph.

Examples of inline elements:

  • <span>
  • <a>
  • <img>

Display: none;

display: none; is commonly used with JavaScript to hide and show elements without deleting and recreating them.

Override The Default Display Value

As mentioned, every element has a default display value. However, you can override this.

Changing an inline element to a block element, or vice versa, can be useful for making the page look a specific way, and still follow the web standards.

A common example is making inline <li> elements for horizontal menus:

Example

li {
display: inline;
}

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Note: Setting the display property of an element only changes how the element is displayed, NOT what kind of element it is. So, an inline element with display: block; is not allowed to have other block elements inside it.

The following example displays <span> elements as block elements:

Example

span {
display: block;
}

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The following example displays <a> elements as block elements:

Example

{
display: block;
}

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Hide an Element – display:none or visibility:hidden?

Hiding an element can be done by setting the display property to none. The element will be hidden, and the page will be displayed as if the element is not there:

Example

h1.hidden {
display: none;
}

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visibility:hidden; also hides an element.

However, the element will still take up the same space as before. The element will be hidden, but still affect the layout:

Example

h1.hidden {
visibility: hidden;
}

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CSS Syntax

display: value;

Property Values

Value Description Ex.
inline Displays an element as an inline element (like <span>). Any height and width properties will have no effect Try
block Displays an element as a block element (like <p>). It starts on a new line, and takes up the whole width Try
contents Makes the container disappear, making the child elements children of the element the next level up in the DOM Try
flex Displays an element as a block-level flex container Try
grid Displays an element as a block-level grid container Try
inline-block Displays an element as an inline-level block container. The element itself is formatted as an inline element, but you can apply height and width values Try
inline-flex Displays an element as an inline-level flex container Try
inline-grid Displays an element as an inline-level grid container Try
inline-table The element is displayed as an inline-level table Try
list-item Let the element behave like a <li> element Try
run-in Displays an element as either block or inline, depending on context Try
table Let the element behave like a <table> element Try
table-caption Let the element behave like a <caption> element Try
table-column-group Let the element behave like a <colgroup> element Try
table-header-group Let the element behave like a <thead> element Try
table-footer-group Let the element behave like a <tfoot> element Try
table-row-group Let the element behave like a <tbody> element Try
table-cell Let the element behave like a <td> element Try
table-column Let the element behave like a <col> element Try
table-row Let the element behave like a <tr> element Try
none The element is completely removed Try
initial Sets this property to its default value. Read about initial Try
inherit Inherits this property from its parent element. Read about inherit
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