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CSS Layout - The position Property


The position property specifies the type of positioning method used for an element (static, relative, fixed or absolute).


The position Property

The position property specifies the type of positioning method used for an element.

There are four different position values:

  • static
  • relative
  • fixed
  • absolute

Elements are then positioned using the top, bottom, left, and right properties. However, these properties will not work unless the position property is set first. They also work differently depending on the position value.


position: static;

HTML elements are positioned static by default.

Static positioned elements are not affected by the top, bottom, left, and right properties.

An element with position: static; is not positioned in any special way; it is always positioned according to the normal flow of the page:

This <div> element has position: static;

Here is the CSS that is used:

Example

div.static {
    position: static;
    border: 3px solid #8AC007;
}

Try it yourself »

position: relative;

An element with position: relative; is positioned relative to its normal position.

Setting the top, right, bottom, and left properties of a relatively-positioned element will cause it to be adjusted away from its normal position. Other content will not be adjusted to fit into any gap left by the element.

This <div> element has position: relative;

Here is the CSS that is used:

Example

div.relative {
    position: relative;
    left: 30px;
    border: 3px solid #8AC007;
}

Try it yourself »

position: fixed;

An element with position: fixed; is positioned relative to the viewport, which means it always stays in the same place even if the page is scrolled. The top, right, bottom, and left properties are used to position the element.

A fixed element does not leave a gap in the page where it would normally have been located.

Notice the fixed element in the lower-right corner of the page. Here is the CSS that is used:

Example

div.fixed {
    position: fixed;
    bottom: 0;
    right: 0;
    width: 300px;
    border: 3px solid #8AC007;
}

Try it yourself »
This <div> element has position: fixed;

position: absolute;

An element with position: absolute; is positioned relative to the nearest positioned ancestor (instead of positioned relative to the viewport, like fixed).

However; if an absolute positioned element has no positioned ancestors, it uses the document body, and moves along with page scrolling.

Note: A "positioned" element is one whose position is anything except static.

Here is a simple example:

This <div> element has position: relative;
This <div> element has position: absolute;

Here is the CSS that is used:

Example

div.relative {
    position: relative;
    width: 400px;
    height: 200px;
    border: 3px solid #8AC007;
}

div.absolute {
    position: absolute;
    top: 80px;
    right: 0;
    width: 200px;
    height: 100px;
    border: 3px solid #8AC007;
}

Try it yourself »

Overlapping Elements

When elements are positioned, they can overlap other elements.

The z-index property specifies the stack order of an element (which element should be placed in front of, or behind, the others).

An element can have a positive or negative stack order:

Example

img {
    position: absolute;
    left: 0px;
    top: 0px;
    z-index: -1;
}

Try it yourself »

An element with greater stack order is always in front of an element with a lower stack order.

Note Note: If two positioned elements overlap without a z-index specified, the element positioned last in the HTML code will be shown on top.

Examples

More Examples

Set the shape of an element
This example demonstrates how to set the shape of an element. The element is clipped into this shape, and displayed.

How to show overflow in an element using scroll
This example demonstrates how to set the overflow property to create a scroll bar when an element's content is too big to fit in a specified area.

How to set the browser to automatically handle overflow
This example demonstrates how to set the browser to automatically handle overflow.

Change the cursor
This example demonstrates how to change the cursor.


Test Yourself with Exercises!

Exercise 1 »  Exercise 2 »  Exercise 3 »  Exercise 4 »  Exercise 5 »


All CSS Positioning Properties

Property Description Values
bottom Sets the bottom margin edge for a positioned box auto
length
%
inherit
clip Clips an absolutely positioned element shape
auto
inherit
cursor Specifies the type of cursor to be displayed url
auto
crosshair
default
pointer
move
e-resize
ne-resize
nw-resize
n-resize
se-resize
sw-resize
s-resize
w-resize
text
wait
help
left Sets the left margin edge for a positioned box auto
length
%
inherit
overflow
Specifies what happens if content overflows an element's box auto
hidden
scroll
visible
inherit
position Specifies the type of positioning for an element absolute
fixed
relative
static
inherit
right Sets the right margin edge for a positioned box auto
length
%
inherit
top Sets the top margin edge for a positioned box auto
length
%
inherit
z-index Sets the stack order of an element number
auto
inherit


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