Center an element

In this recipe you will see how to center one box inside another. Centering both horizontally and vertically was difficult before flexbox, with the Box Alignment properties it is now straightforward.

an element centered inside a larger box

Requirements

To place an item into the center of another box horizontally and vertically.

Recipe

Choices made

To center one box inside another we make the containing box a flex container. Then set align-items to center to perform centering on the block axis, and justify-content to center to perform centering on the inline axis.

In the future we may be able to center elements without needing to turn the parent into a flex container, as the Box Alignment properties used here are specified to apply to block layout too. However, support is currently limited for box alignment properties on block layout, so currently centering using Flexbox is the most robust way to achieve this.

Browser compatibility

The various layout methods have different browser support. See the charts below for details on basic support for the properties used.

align-items

Update compatibility data on GitHub
DesktopMobile
ChromeEdgeFirefoxInternet ExplorerOperaSafariAndroid webviewChrome for AndroidEdge MobileFirefox for AndroidOpera for AndroidiOS SafariSamsung Internet
Supported in Flex LayoutChrome Full support 52
Full support 52
Partial support 29
Notes
Notes Older versions of the specification treat absolute positioned children as though they are a 0 by 0 flex item. Later specification versions take the children out of the flow and set their positions based on align and justify properties. Chrome implements the new behavior beginning with Chrome 52.
Full support 21
Prefixed
Prefixed Requires the vendor prefix: -webkit-
Edge Full support 12
Full support 12
Full support 12
Prefixed
Prefixed Requires the vendor prefix: -webkit-
Firefox Full support 20
Notes
Full support 20
Notes
Notes Multi-line flexbox has been supported since Firefox 28.
Full support 49
Prefixed
Prefixed Requires the vendor prefix: -webkit-
No support 18 — ?
Disabled
Disabled From version 18: this feature is behind the layout.css.flexbox.enabled preference (needs to be set to true). To change preferences in Firefox, visit about:config.
Full support 48
Prefixed Disabled
Prefixed Requires the vendor prefix: -webkit-
Disabled From version 48: this feature is behind the layout.css.prefixes.webkit preference (needs to be set to true). To change preferences in Firefox, visit about:config.
IE Full support 11
Notes
Full support 11
Notes
Notes In Internet Explorer 10 and 11, if column flex items have align-items: center; set on them and their content is too large, then they will overflow the bounds of their container. See Flexbug #2.
Opera Full support 12.1Safari Full support 7
Prefixed
Full support 7
Prefixed
Prefixed Requires the vendor prefix: -webkit-
WebView Android Full support 52
Full support 52
Partial support 4.4
Notes
Notes Older versions of the specification treat absolute positioned children as though they are a 0 by 0 flex item. Later specification versions take the children out of the flow and set their positions based on align and justify properties. Chrome implements the new behavior beginning with Chrome 52.
Full support Yes
Prefixed
Prefixed Requires the vendor prefix: -webkit-
Chrome Android Full support 52
Full support 52
Partial support 29
Notes
Notes Older versions of the specification treat absolute positioned children as though they are a 0 by 0 flex item. Later specification versions take the children out of the flow and set their positions based on align and justify properties. Chrome implements the new behavior beginning with Chrome 52.
Full support 25
Prefixed
Prefixed Requires the vendor prefix: -webkit-
Edge Mobile Full support Yes
Full support Yes
Full support Yes
Prefixed
Prefixed Requires the vendor prefix: -webkit-
Firefox Android Full support 20
Notes
Full support 20
Notes
Notes Multi-line flexbox has been supported since Firefox 28.
Full support 49
Prefixed
Prefixed Requires the vendor prefix: -webkit-
No support 18 — ?
Disabled
Disabled From version 18: this feature is behind the layout.css.flexbox.enabled preference (needs to be set to true). To change preferences in Firefox, visit about:config.
Full support 48
Prefixed Disabled
Prefixed Requires the vendor prefix: -webkit-
Disabled From version 48: this feature is behind the layout.css.prefixes.webkit preference (needs to be set to true). To change preferences in Firefox, visit about:config.
Opera Android Full support 12.1Safari iOS Full support 7
Prefixed
Full support 7
Prefixed
Prefixed Requires the vendor prefix: -webkit-
Samsung Internet Android ?
Supported in Grid LayoutChrome Full support 57Edge Full support 16Firefox Full support 52IE ? Opera Full support 44Safari Full support 10.1WebView Android Full support 57Chrome Android Full support 52Edge Mobile Full support YesFirefox Android Full support 52Opera Android Full support 44Safari iOS Full support 10.3Samsung Internet Android Full support 6.2

Legend

Full support  
Full support
Compatibility unknown  
Compatibility unknown
See implementation notes.
See implementation notes.
User must explicitly enable this feature.
User must explicitly enable this feature.
Requires a vendor prefix or different name for use.
Requires a vendor prefix or different name for use.

justify-content

Update compatibility data on GitHub
DesktopMobile
ChromeEdgeFirefoxInternet ExplorerOperaSafariAndroid webviewChrome for AndroidEdge MobileFirefox for AndroidOpera for AndroidiOS SafariSamsung Internet
Supported in Flex LayoutChrome Full support 52
Full support 52
Partial support 29
Notes
Notes Older versions of the specification treat absolute positioned children as though they are a 0 by 0 flex item. Later specification versions take the children out of the flow and set their positions based on align and justify properties. Chrome implements the new behavior beginning with Chrome 52.
Full support 21
Prefixed
Prefixed Requires the vendor prefix: -webkit-
Edge Full support 12
Full support 12
Full support 12
Prefixed
Prefixed Requires the vendor prefix: -webkit-
Firefox Full support 20
Notes
Full support 20
Notes
Notes Before Firefox 27, Firefox supported only single-line flexbox.
No support 18 — ?
Disabled
Disabled From version 18: this feature is behind the layout.css.flexbox.enabled preference (needs to be set to true). To change preferences in Firefox, visit about:config.
Full support 49
Prefixed
Prefixed Requires the vendor prefix: -webkit-
Full support 48
Prefixed Disabled
Prefixed Requires the vendor prefix: -webkit-
Disabled From version 48: this feature is behind the layout.css.prefixes.webkit preference (needs to be set to true). To change preferences in Firefox, visit about:config.
IE Full support 11Opera Full support 12.1Safari Full support 9WebView Android Full support 52
Full support 52
Partial support 4.4
Notes
Notes Older versions of the specification treat absolute positioned children as though they are a 0 by 0 flex item. Later specification versions take the children out of the flow and set their positions based on align and justify properties. Chrome implements the new behavior beginning with Chrome 52.
Full support Yes
Prefixed
Prefixed Requires the vendor prefix: -webkit-
Chrome Android Full support 52
Full support 52
Partial support 29
Notes
Notes Older versions of the specification treat absolute positioned children as though they are a 0 by 0 flex item. Later specification versions take the children out of the flow and set their positions based on align and justify properties. Chrome implements the new behavior beginning with Chrome 52.
Full support 25
Prefixed
Prefixed Requires the vendor prefix: -webkit-
Edge Mobile Full support Yes
Full support Yes
Full support Yes
Prefixed
Prefixed Requires the vendor prefix: -webkit-
Firefox Android ? Opera Android Full support 12.1Safari iOS ? Samsung Internet Android Full support Yes
Supported in Grid LayoutChrome Full support 57Edge Full support 16Firefox Full support 52IE ? Opera Full support 44Safari Full support 10.1WebView Android Full support 57Chrome Android Full support 52Edge Mobile Full support YesFirefox Android Full support 52Opera Android Full support 44Safari iOS Full support 10.3Samsung Internet Android Full support 6.2

Legend

Full support  
Full support
Compatibility unknown  
Compatibility unknown
See implementation notes.
See implementation notes.
User must explicitly enable this feature.
User must explicitly enable this feature.
Requires a vendor prefix or different name for use.
Requires a vendor prefix or different name for use.

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Contributors to this page: chrisdavidmills, rachelandrew
Last updated by: chrisdavidmills,