display

The display CSS property sets whether an element is treated as a block or inline element and the layout used for its children, such as flow layout, grid or flex.

Formally, the display property sets an element's inner and outer display types. The outer type sets an element's participation in flow layout; the inner type sets the layout of children. Some values of display are fully defined in their own individual specifications; for example the detail of what happens when display: flex is declared is defined in the CSS Flexible Box Model specification. See the table at the end of this document for all of the individual specifications.

Syntax

The CSS display property is specified using keyword values.

/* legacy values */
display: block;
display: inline;
display: inline-block;
display: flex;
display: inline-flex;
display: grid;
display: inline-grid;
display: flow-root;

/* box generation */
display: none;
display: contents;

/* two-value syntax */
display: block flow;
display: inline flow;
display: inline flow-root;
display: block flex;
display: inline flex;
display: block grid;
display: inline grid;
display: block flow-root;

/* other values */
display: table;
display: table-row; /* all table elements have an equivalent CSS display value */
display: list-item;

/* Global values */
display: inherit;
display: initial;
display: unset;

Grouped values

The keyword values can be grouped into six value categories.

Outside

<display-outside>
These keywords specify the element’s outer display type, which is essentially its role in flow layout.

Valid <display-outside> values:

block
The element generates a block element box, generating line breaks both before and after the element when in the normal flow.
inline
The element generates one or more inline element boxes that do not generate line breaks before or after themselves. In normal flow, the next element will be on the same line if there is space

Note: Browsers that support the two value syntax, on finding the outer value only, such as when display: block or display: inline is specified, will set the inner value to flow. This will result in expected behavior; for example if you specify an element to be block, you would expect that the children of that element would participate in block and inline normal flow layout.

Inside

<display-inside>
These keywords specify the element’s inner display type, which defines the type of formatting context that its contents are laid out in (assuming it is a non-replaced element).

Valid <display-inside> values:

flow This is an experimental API that should not be used in production code.
The element lays out its contents using flow layout (block-and-inline layout).

If its outer display type is inline or run-in, and it is participating in a block or inline formatting context, then it generates an inline box. Otherwise it generates a block container box.

Depending on the value of other properties (such as position, float, or overflow) and whether it is itself participating in a block or inline formatting context, it either establishes a new block formatting context (BFC) for its contents or integrates its contents into its parent formatting context.

flow-root
The element generates a block element box that establishes a new block formatting context, defining where the formatting root lies.
table
These elements behave like HTML <table> elements. It defines a block-level box.
flex
The element behaves like a block element and lays out its content according to the flexbox model.
grid
The element behaves like a block element and lays out its content according to the grid model.
ruby This is an experimental API that should not be used in production code.
The element behaves like an inline element and lays out its content according to the ruby formatting model. It behaves like the corresponding HTML <ruby> elements.

Note: Browsers that support the two value syntax, on finding the inner value only, such as when display: flex or display: grid is specified, will set their outer value to block. This will result in expected behavior; for example if you specify an element to be display: grid, you would expect that the box created on the grid container would be a block level box.

List Item

<display-listitem>
The element generates a block box for the content and a separate list-item inline box.

A single value of list-item will cause the element to behave like a list item. This can be used together with list-style-type and list-style-position.

list-item can also be combined with any <display-outside> keyword and the flow or flow-root <display-inside> keywords.

Note: In browsers that support the two-value syntax, if no inner value is specified it will default to flow. If no outer value is specified, the principal box will have an outer display type of block.

Internal

<display-internal>
Some layout models such as table and ruby have a complex internal structure, with several different roles that their children and descendants can fill. This section defines those "internal" display values, which only have meaning within that particular layout mode.

Valid <display-internal> values:

table-row-group
These elements behave like <tbody> HTML elements.
table-header-group
These elements behave like <thead> HTML elements.
table-footer-group
These elements behave like <tfoot> HTML elements.
table-row
These elements behave like <tr> HTML elements.
table-cell
These elements behave like <td> HTML elements.
table-column-group
These elements behave like <colgroup> HTML elements.
table-column
These elements behave like <col> HTML elements.
table-caption
These elements behave like <caption> HTML elements.
ruby-base This is an experimental API that should not be used in production code.
These elements behave like <rb> HTML elements.
ruby-text This is an experimental API that should not be used in production code.
These elements behave like <rt> HTML elements.
ruby-base-container This is an experimental API that should not be used in production code.
These elements behave like <rbc> HTML elements generated as anonymous boxes.
ruby-text-container This is an experimental API that should not be used in production code.
These elements behave like <rtc> HTML elements.

Box

<display-box>
These values define whether an element generates display boxes at all.

Valid <display-box> values:

contents
These elements don't produce a specific box by themselves. They are replaced by their pseudo-box and their child boxes. Please note that the CSS Display Level 3 spec defines how the contents value should affect "unusual elements" — elements that aren’t rendered purely by CSS box concepts such as replaced elements. See Appendix B: Effects of display: contents on Unusual Elements for more details.

Due to a bug in browsers this will currently remove the element from the accessibility tree — screen readers will not look at what's inside. See the Accessibility concerns section below for more details.
none
Turns off the display of an element so that it has no effect on layout (the document is rendered as though the element did not exist). All descendant elements also have their display turned off.
To have an element take up the space that it would normally take, but without actually rendering anything, use the visibility property instead.

Legacy

<display-legacy>
CSS 2 used a single-keyword syntax for the display property, requiring separate keywords for block-level and inline-level variants of the same layout mode.

Valid <display-legacy> values:

inline-block
The element generates a block element box that will be flowed with surrounding content as if it were a single inline box (behaving much like a replaced element would).

It is equivalent to inline flow-root.
inline-table
The inline-table value does not have a direct mapping in HTML. It behaves like an HTML <table> element, but as an inline box, rather than a block-level box. Inside the table box is a block-level context.

It is equivalent to inline table.
inline-flex
The element behaves like an inline element and lays out its content according to the flexbox model.

It is equivalent to inline flex.
inline-grid
The element behaves like an inline element and lays out its content according to the grid model.

It is equivalent to inline grid.

Which syntax should you use now?

The Level 3 specification details two values for the display property — enabling the specification of the outer and inner display type explicitly — but this is not yet well-supported by browsers.

The <display-legacy> methods allow the same results with single keyword values, and should be favoured by developers until the two keyword values are better supported. For example, using two values you might specify an inline flex container as follows:

.container {
  display: inline flex;
}

This can currently be specified using a single value.

.container {
  display: inline-flex;
}

For more information on these changes to the specification, see the article Adapting to the new two-value syntax of display.

Global

/* Global values */
display: inherit;
display: initial;
display: unset;

Description

The individual pages for the different types of value that display can have set on it feature multiple examples of those values in action — see the Syntax section. In addition, see the following material, which covers the various values of display in depth.

CSS Flow Layout (display: block, display: inline)

display: flex

display: grid

Accessibility concerns

display: none

Using a display value of none on an element will remove it from the accessibility tree. This will cause the element and all its descendant elements to no longer be announced by screen reading technology.

If you want to visually hide the element, a more accessible alternative is to use a combination of properties to remove it visually from the screen but keep it parsable by assistive technology such as screen readers.

display: contents

Current implementations in most browsers will remove from the accessibility tree any element with a display value of contents (but descendants will remain). This will cause the element itself to no longer be announced by screen reading technology. This is incorrect behavior according to the CSS specification.

Tables

Changing the display value of a <table> element to block, grid, or flex will alter its representation in the accessibility tree. This will cause the table to no longer be announced properly by screen reading technology.

Formal definition

Initial valueinline
Applies toall elements
Inheritedno
Computed valueas the specified value, except for positioned and floating elements and the root element. In both cases the computed value may be a keyword other than the one specified.
Animation typediscrete

Formal syntax

[ <display-outside> || <display-inside> ] | <display-listitem> | <display-internal> | <display-box> | <display-legacy>

where
<display-outside> = block | inline | run-in
<display-inside> = flow | flow-root | table | flex | grid | ruby
<display-listitem> = <display-outside>? && [ flow | flow-root ]? && list-item
<display-internal> = table-row-group | table-header-group | table-footer-group | table-row | table-cell | table-column-group | table-column | table-caption | ruby-base | ruby-text | ruby-base-container | ruby-text-container
<display-box> = contents | none
<display-legacy> = inline-block | inline-list-item | inline-table | inline-flex | inline-grid

Examples

display value comparison

In this example we have two block-level container elements, each one with three inline children. Below that, we have a select menu that allows you to apply different display values to the containers, allowing you to compare and contrast how the different values affect the element's layout, and that of their children.

We've included padding and background-color on the containers and their children, so that it is easier to see the effect the display values are having.

Note: We've not included any of the modern two-value syntax, as support for that is still fairly limited.

HTML

<article class="container">
  <span>First</span>
  <span>Second</span>
  <span>Third</span>
</article>

<article class="container">
  <span>First</span>
  <span>Second</span>
  <span>Third</span>
</article>

<div>
  <label for="display">Choose a display value:</label>
  <select id="display">
    <option selected>block</option>
    <option>inline</option>
    <option>inline-block</option>
    <option>none</option>
    <option>flex</option>
    <option>inline-flex</option>
    <option>grid</option>
    <option>inline-grid</option>
    <option>table</option>
    <option>list-item</option>
  </select>
</div>

CSS

html {
  font-family: helvetica, arial, sans-serif;
  letter-spacing: 1px;
  padding-top: 10px;
}

article {
  background-color: red;
}

article span {
  background-color: black;
  color: white;
  margin: 1px;
}

article, span {
  padding: 10px;
  border-radius: 7px;
}

article, div {
  margin: 20px;
}

JavaScript

const articles = document.querySelectorAll('.container');
const select = document.querySelector('select');

function updateDisplay() {
  articles.forEach((article) => {
    article.style.display = select.value;
  });
}

select.addEventListener('change', updateDisplay);

updateDisplay();

Result

Note: You can find more examples in the pages for each separate display data type, linked above.

Specifications

Specification Status Comment
CSS Display Module Level 3
The definition of 'display' in that specification.
Candidate Recommendation Added run-in, flow, flow-root, contents, and multi-keyword values.
CSS Ruby Layout Module Level 1
The definition of 'display' in that specification.
Working Draft Added ruby, ruby-base, ruby-text, ruby-base-container, and ruby-text-container.
CSS Grid Layout
The definition of 'display' in that specification.
Candidate Recommendation Added the grid box model values.
CSS Flexible Box Layout Module
The definition of 'display' in that specification.
Candidate Recommendation Added the flexible box model values.
CSS Level 2 (Revision 1)
The definition of 'display' in that specification.
Recommendation Added the table model values and inline-block.
CSS Level 1
The definition of 'display' in that specification.
Recommendation Initial definition. Basic values: none, block, inline, and list-item.

Browser compatibility

BCD tables only load in the browser

See also