CSS: Display Property

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

CSS display property lets you control layout.

It is one of the most powerful property for layout, but is complex to understand.

Here's the basics.

There are 2 major types of “rendering box” for a HTML element:

Simple Example

Here's a example of changing list items as inline.

Here's a list, without style:


Here's the same list, but each li set to display:inline:

<li style="display:inline">one</li>
<li style="display:inline">two</li>
<li style="display:inline">three</li>

What's Rendering Box Type?

The details are fairly complex, but basically it's like this.

Each element, has a “rendering box type”.

The “rendering box type” determines 2 things:

  1. How it is positioned with respect to its neighbor elements. example: block level (like a paragraph p), inline (like a bold b word in a sentence.), table (like block but width does not span the window width, it's shrink wrapped to the table's content's width, which is automatically computed by default.), and others.
  2. How it is children elements behave. example: table, ul (list), their child elements all have special type of rendering box.

Display Property Values

Here's complete list of values for display.

⭐ means it's not widely supported by browsers yet.


These controls their layout with respect to neighbor elements.



These controls the layout of their child elements.

display-outside and display-inside




Universal CSS Property Values

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CSS Basics

  1. Basics
  2. Tag Matching Tutorial
  3. Selector Syntax
  4. Units


  1. Color Syntax
  2. Color Names
  3. Opacity
  4. Linear Gradient
  5. Radial Gradient


  1. font-family
  2. Standard Web Fonts
  3. font-size
  4. Meaning of Font Size
  5. Font Weight
  6. Chinese Font Names

Box Model

  1. Border
  2. Outline
  3. Margin vs Padding
  4. Box Sizing


  1. Layout Tutorial
  2. Display Property
  3. Position: static, relative, fixed, absolute
  4. Pure CSS Table
  5. Tabbed Menu
  6. 3 Columns Page Layout
  7. Multi-Column Layout for Text Flow
  8. Fix Element to Window
  9. Centering
  10. Flowing List
  11. z-index
  12. Text Over Image
  13. Text Flow Around Image
  14. OverFlow, Scrollbar


  1. 2D Transform
  2. Transition
  3. Animation

Line Wrap, Justification

  1. Line Wrap
  2. Text Alignment, Justification
  3. Match first-letter and first-line
  4. “:before”, “:after”
  5. Text Decoration: Underline, Overline, Line-Through
  6. Letter Spacing, Word Spacing

Box Decoration

  1. Box Shadow
  2. Text Shadow
  3. Round Corners
  4. Background Image
  5. Image Rollover


  1. Computed Style
  2. Pseudo Class vs Pseudo Element
  3. Media Query
  4. Variable
  5. calc
  6. Reset
  7. user-select
  8. Data URI Scheme
  9. protocol-relative URL
  10. Default Unit
  11. Declaring Character Set in CSS File
  12. Jargons Explained: Tag, Element, Node, Object, Attribute, Property, Method
  13. Display Table on Small Screen
  14. Fixed Aspect Ratio
  15. Add Icon to Links
  16. Progress Bar Example

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