CSS Layout – The position Property

The position property specifies the type of positioning method used for an element (static, relative, fixed or absolute).

The position Property
The position property specifies the type of positioning method used for an element.

There are four different position values:

  • static
  • relative
  • fixed
  • absolute

Elements are then positioned using the top, bottom, left, and right properties. However, these properties will not work unless the position property is set first. They also work differently depending on the position value.

position: static;
HTML elements are positioned static by default.

Static positioned elements are not affected by the top, bottom, left, and right properties.

An element with position: static; is not positioned in any special way; it is always positioned according to the normal flow of the page:

Here is the CSS that is used:

Example

div.static {
    position: static;
    border: 3px solid #73AD21;
}

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position: relative;
An element with position: relative; is positioned relative to its normal position.

Setting the top, right, bottom, and left properties of a relatively-positioned element will cause it to be adjusted away from its normal position. Other content will not be adjusted to fit into any gap left by the element.

Here is the CSS that is used:

Example

div.relative {
    position: relative;
    left: 30px;
    border: 3px solid #73AD21;
}

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position: fixed;
An element with position: fixed; is positioned relative to the viewport, which means it always stays in the same place even if the page is scrolled. The top, right, bottom, and left properties are used to position the element.

A fixed element does not leave a gap in the page where it would normally have been located.

Notice the fixed element in the lower-right corner of the page. Here is the CSS that is used:

Example

div.fixed {
    position: fixed;
    bottom: 0;
    right: 0;
    width: 300px;
    border: 3px solid #73AD21;
}

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This <div> element has position: fixed;
position: absolute;
An element with position: absolute; is positioned relative to the nearest positioned ancestor (instead of positioned relative to the viewport, like fixed).

However; if an absolute positioned element has no positioned ancestors, it uses the document body, and moves along with page scrolling.

Note: A “positioned” element is one whose position is anything except static.

Here is a simple example:

Here is the CSS that is used:

Example

div.relative {
    position: relative;
    width: 400px;
    height: 200px;
    border: 3px solid #73AD21;
}
div.absolute {
    position: absolute;
    top: 80px;
    right: 0;
    width: 200px;
    height: 100px;
    border: 3px solid #73AD21;
}

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Overlapping Elements
When elements are positioned, they can overlap other elements.

The z-index property specifies the stack order of an element (which element should be placed in front of, or behind, the others).

An element can have a positive or negative stack order:

Example

img {
    position: absolute;
    left: 0px;
    top: 0px;
    z-index: -1;
}

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An element with greater stack order is always in front of an element with a lower stack order.

Positioning Text In an Image
How to position text over an image:

Try it Yourself:

Top Left »

Top Right »

Bottom Left »

Bottom Right »

Centered »

All CSS Positioning Properties

Property
Description
bottom Sets the bottom margin edge for a positioned box
clip Clips an absolutely positioned element
left Sets the left margin edge for a positioned box
position Specifies the type of positioning for an element
right Sets the right margin edge for a positioned box
top Sets the top margin edge for a positioned box
z-index Sets the stack order of an element

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