The MDN box model article linked in the previous lesson mentions that different display types have subtly different box models. It also mentions that you can change how a box is calculated by changing the
display property. We will explore the different display values you can use further in this lesson.
This section contains a general overview of topics that you will learn in this lesson.
blockand which elements default to
Most of the elements that you have learned about so far are block elements. In other words, their default style is
display: block. By default, block elements will appear on the page stacked atop each other, each new element starting on a new line.
Inline elements, however, do not start on a new line. They appear in line with whatever elements they are placed beside. A clear example of an inline element is a link, or
<a> tag. If you stick one of these in the middle of a paragraph of text, it will behave like a part of the paragraph. (Like this…) The link’s text will sit alongside other words in that paragraph. Additionally, padding and margin behave differently on inline elements. In general, you do not want to try to put extra padding or margin on inline elements.
Inline-block elements behave like inline elements, but with block-style padding and margin. Inline-block is a useful tool to know about, but in practice, you’ll probably end up reaching for flexbox more often if you’re trying to line up a bunch of boxes. Flexbox will be covered in-depth in the next lesson.
We can’t talk about block and inline elements without discussing divs and spans. All the other HTML elements we have encountered so far give meaning to their content. For example, paragraph elements tell the browser to display the text it contains as a paragraph. Strong elements tell the browser which texts within are important and so on. Yet, divs and spans give no particular meaning to their content. They are just generic boxes that can contain anything.
Having elements like this available to us is a lot more useful than it may first appear. We will often need elements that serve no other purpose than to be “hook” elements. We can give an id or class to target them for styling with CSS. Another use case we will face regularly is grouping related elements under one parent element to correctly position them on the page. Divs and spans provide us with the ability to do this.
Div is a block-level element by default. It is commonly used as a container element to group other elements. Divs allow us to divide the page into different blocks and apply styling to those blocks.
Span is an inline-level element by default. It can be used to group text content and inline HTML elements for styling and should only be used when no other semantic HTML element is appropriate.
This section contains helpful links to related content. It isn’t required, so consider it supplemental.
This section contains questions for you to check your understanding of this lesson on your own. If you’re having trouble answering a question, click it and review the material it links to.