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Nilesh Raut
Nilesh Raut

Posted on • Originally published at

CSS : Inline vs Inline-Block, vs Block


When it comes to crafting beautiful and functional web pages, CSS (Cascading Style Sheets)is our trusty tool. But within the realm of CSS, there are various display properties that affect how elements are positioned and how they interact with one another. In this post, we'll dive into the differences between three key display types: inline, [inline-block], and block. We'll help you grasp the core distinctions and understand when to use each of them.

Inline Elements: The Swift Runners

First, let's talk about inline elements. These are like the nimble sprinters on a web page. Inline elements don't force a line break after them. They flow in the document alongside their neighboring elements. They're great for text or elements that should appear inline with the content. Things like <span>, <a>, or even <strong> tags are typically inline elements.

So, why would we choose inline over the others? Well, when we want elements to stay within the flow of the text, such as links or emphasizing text, inline is our go-to choice.

Inline-Block Elements: The Hybrid Athletes

Next up, we have inline-block elements. These are the versatile athletes in the web design world. Inline-block elements behave similarly to inline elements in that they don't force line breaks. However, they have the block-level properties. Think of them as hybrid athletes that can run the track and swim in the pool, all in one go.

This means they can have width, height, margins, and padding. They are like the best of both worlds. When you want an element to flow inline but also have the ability to control its dimensions and spacing, inline-block is your friend.

Block Elements: The Weightlifters

Last but not least, we have block elements. These are the heavyweight champions of web layout. Block elements create a new block formatting context and, as a result, force a line break after them. Elements like <div>, <p>, or <h1> tags are typical examples.

If you want to create distinct, self-contained sections on your web page, block elements are your choice. They are like the weightlifters in the gym, providing structure and clear separation between content.

In Summary

To sum it all up, choosing the right display type depends on what you're trying to achieve. If you want elements to flow inline with the text, use inline. For elements that need to behave like inline but also have block-level properties, inline-block is the answer. And if you need to create distinct sections or containers, block is your strongman.

Remember, in the world of web design, our goal is to create engaging, user-friendly pages. Understanding when to use inline, inline-block, or block elements is like selecting the right tool for the job. So, next time you're working on your website, think about these display types and let them work their magic in making your design more efficient and effective.

Top comments (1)

lixeletto profile image
Camilo Micheletto

In my opinion, there are few cases where we need to change the display of a property to block, inline, or inline-block. First, because all elements have a default display property that corresponds to their purpose, such as inline for in-text elements and block for section elements. Second, because we usually use flex and grid to organize the layout, so it is more common to work with the outer display being a flex-item/grid-item, leaving little room for these others in the most common use cases.