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    Stacking context example 1

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    Stacking context example 1

    Let's start with a basic example. In the root stacking context we have two DIVs (DIV #1 and DIV #3), both relatively positioned, but without z-index properties. Inside DIV #1 there is an absolutely positioned DIV #2, while in DIV #3 there is an absolutely positioned DIV #4, both without z-index properties.

    The only stacking context is the root context. Without z-indexes, elements are stacked in order of occurrence.

    Stacking context example 1

    If DIV #2 is assigned a positive (non-zero and non-auto) z-index value, it is rendered above all the other DIVs.

    Stacking context example 1

    Then if DIV #4 is also assigned a positive z-index greater than DIV #2's z-index, it is rendered above all the other DIVs including DIV #2.

    Stacking context example 1

    In this last example you can see that DIV #2 and DIV #4 are not siblings, because they belong to different parents in the HTML elements' hierarchy. Even so, stacking of DIV #4 with respect of DIV #2 can be controlled through z-index. It happens that, since DIV #1 and DIV #3 are not assigned any z-index value, they do not create a stacking context. This means that all their content, including DIV #2 and DIV #4, belongs to the same root stacking context.

    In terms of stacking contexts, DIV #1 and DIV #3 are simply assimilated into the root element, and the resulting hierarchy is the following:

    • root stacking context
      • DIV #2 (z-index 1)
      • DIV #4 (z-index 2)
    Note: DIV #1 and DIV #3 are not translucent. It is important to remember that assigning an opacity less than 1 to a positioned element implicitly creates a stacking context, just like adding a z-index value. And this example shows what happens when a parent element does not create a stacking context.

    Example source code

    <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN"
    <head><style type="text/css">
    div { font: 12px Arial; }
    span.bold { font-weight: bold; }
    #div1,#div3 {
       height: 80px;
       position: relative;
       border: 1px dashed #669966;
       background-color: #ccffcc;
       padding-left: 5px;
    #div2 {
       opacity: 0.8;
       z-index: 1;
       position: absolute;
       width: 150px;
       height: 200px;
       top: 20px;
       left: 170px;
       border: 1px dashed #990000;
       background-color: #ffdddd;
       text-align: center;
    #div4 {
       opacity: 0.8;
       z-index: 2;
       position: absolute;
       width: 200px;
       height: 70px;
       top: 65px;
       left: 50px;
       border: 1px dashed #000099;
       background-color: #ddddff;
       text-align: left;
       padding-left: 10px;
    <br />
    <div id="div1">
    <br /><span class="bold">DIV #1</span>
    <br />position: relative;
       <div id="div2">
       <br /><span class="bold">DIV #2</span>
       <br />position: absolute;
       <br />z-index: 1;
    <br />
    <div id="div3">
    <br /><span class="bold">DIV #3</span>
    <br />position: relative;
       <div id="div4">
       <br /><span class="bold">DIV #4</span>
       <br />position: absolute;
       <br />z-index: 2;

    See also

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    Last updated by: dima716,