overflow

The overflow CSS shorthand property sets the desired behavior for an element's overflow — i.e. when an element's content is too big to fit in its block formatting context — in both directions.

Constituent properties

This property is a shorthand for the following CSS properties:

Syntax

/* Keyword values */
overflow: visible;
overflow: hidden;
overflow: clip;
overflow: scroll;
overflow: auto;
overflow: hidden visible;

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

The overflow property is specified as one or two keywords chosen from the list of values below. If two keywords are specified, the first applies to overflow-x and the second to overflow-y. Otherwise, both overflow-x and overflow-y are set to the same value.

Values

visible
Content is not clipped and may be rendered outside the padding box.
hidden
Content is clipped if necessary to fit the padding box. No scrollbars are provided, and no support for allowing the user to scroll (such as by dragging or using a scroll wheel) is allowed. The content can be scrolled programmatically (for example, by setting the value of a property such as offsetLeft), so the element is still a scroll container.
clip
Like for hidden, the content is clipped to the element's padding box. The difference between clip and hidden is that the clip keyword also forbids all scrolling, including programmatic scrolling. The box is not a scroll container, and does not start a new formatting context. If you wish to start a new formatting context, you can use display: flow-root to do so.
scroll
Content is clipped if necessary to fit the padding box. Browsers always display scrollbars whether or not any content is actually clipped, preventing scrollbars from appearing or disappearing as content changes. Printers may still print overflowing content.
auto
Depends on the user agent. If content fits inside the padding box, it looks the same as visible, but still establishes a new block formatting context. Desktop browsers provide scrollbars if content overflows.
overlay This deprecated API should no longer be used, but will probably still work.
Behaves the same as auto, but with the scrollbars drawn on top of content instead of taking up space. Only supported in WebKit-based (e.g., Safari) and Blink-based (e.g., Chrome or Opera) browsers.

Mozilla extensions

-moz-scrollbars-none This is an obsolete API and is no longer guaranteed to work. [1]
Use overflow: hidden instead.
-moz-scrollbars-horizontal This deprecated API should no longer be used, but will probably still work. [1]
Use overflow-x: scroll and overflow-y: hidden, or overflow: hidden scroll instead.
-moz-scrollbars-vertical This deprecated API should no longer be used, but will probably still work. [1]
Use overflow-x: hidden and overflow-y: scroll, or overflow: scroll hidden instead.
-moz-hidden-unscrollable This is an obsolete API and is no longer guaranteed to work.
Use overflow: clip instead.

[1] As of Firefox 63, this feature is behind a feature preference setting. In about:config, set layout.css.overflow.moz-scrollbars.enabled to true

Description

Overflow options include clipping, showing scrollbars, or displaying the content flowing out of its container into the surrounding area.

Specifying a value other than visible (the default) or clip creates a new block formatting context. This is necessary for technical reasons — if a float intersected with the scrolling element it would forcibly rewrap the content after each scroll step, leading to a slow scrolling experience.

In order for overflow to have an effect, the block-level container must have either a set height (height or max-height) or white-space set to nowrap.

Setting one axis to visible (the default) while setting the other to a different value results in visible behaving as auto.

The JavaScript Element.scrollTop property may be used to scroll an HTML element even when overflow is set to hidden.

Formal definition

Initial valuevisible
Applies toBlock-containers, flex containers, and grid containers
Inheritedno
Computed valueas each of the properties of the shorthand:
  • overflow-x: as specified, except with visible/clip computing to auto/hidden respectively if one of overflow-x or overflow-y is neither visible nor clip
  • overflow-y: as specified, except with visible/clip computing to auto/hidden respectively if one of overflow-x or overflow-y is neither visible nor clip
Animation typediscrete

Formal syntax

[ visible | hidden | clip | scroll | auto ]{1,2}

Examples

Setting different overflow values for text

p {
  width: 12em;
  height: 6em;
  border: dotted;
  overflow: visible; /* content is not clipped */
}

visible (default)
Sed ut perspiciatis unde omnis iste natus error sit voluptatem accusantium doloremque laudantium.

p { overflow: hidden; /* no scrollbars are provided */ }

overflow: hidden
Sed ut perspiciatis unde omnis iste natus error sit voluptatem accusantium doloremque laudantium.

p { overflow: scroll; /* always show scrollbars */ }

overflow: scroll
Sed ut perspiciatis unde omnis iste natus error sit voluptatem accusantium doloremque laudantium.

p { overflow: auto; /* append scrollbars if necessary */ }

overflow: auto
Sed ut perspiciatis unde omnis iste natus error sit voluptatem accusantium doloremque laudantium.

Specifications

Specification Status Comment
CSS Overflow Module Level 3
The definition of 'overflow' in that specification.
Working Draft

Changed syntax to allow one or two keywords instead of only one

CSS Level 2 (Revision 1)
The definition of 'overflow' in that specification.
Recommendation Initial definition.

Browser compatibility

BCD tables only load in the browser

See also