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Positioning divs side by side with CSS

Daniel Gheorghe Difficulty: 15 / 50 Tweet

This article is old. Be careful! It might contain outdated information.
Here's an alternate resource that I am recommending for this topic.

aligned benches in a park

In this tutorial I will show you the easiest method of positioning HTML divs side by side thus generating a multi-column layout with ease. The only downside for this code is that it doesn't work on IE7, because it doesn't know how to interpret the 'box-sizing' CSS rule.

Speaking of 'box-sizing' this is the rule that solves our grid layout. By default, HTML element widths are calculated by adding width, padding and border. By changing the 'box-sizing' rule to 'border-box', the browser will calculate the width of the object automatically containing it inside whatever is specified for 'width' regardless of padding and border size.

For example, a div that's 100px in width, has a 10px padding and a border of 1px will actually occupy 122px » 100px(width) + 2*10px(left and right padding) + 2*1px(left and right borders). However, if you set the 'box-sizing' property to 'border-box' the div will occupy 100px and the padding and border will be 'inside' the 100px area.

Once you've understood how box-sizing works, just fit your columns inside a container and give them a float property and they should stack naturally one next to the other.

Here's a piece of source code as an example

      .row { width: 100%; line-height: 50px; overflow:hidden; }
        .column { padding: 10px; text-align: center; float: left; min-height: 50px; background: #eee; border:1px solid #fff; box-sizing:border-box; /*Important!*/ }
        .col2 { width: 20%; } .col4 { width: 40%; }
        .red { background: red; }
        .green { background: green; }
        .blue { background: blue; }
    <div class="row">
      <div class="column col4 red">Column 1</div>
      <div class="column col4 green">Column 2</div>
      <div class="column col2 blue">Column 3</div>
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