Cover by Ben Henick

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auto Values

The default value of both width and height is auto. When the browser applies the computed width of an element with this literal (if implied) value, that means an affected element will expand to fill the width of its container. For height, the affected element will only expand to fit the length of the content, but only if that element’s float value is none (the default).

However, when the border and/or padding values of an element with a width of auto are set, those values are subtracted from the computed width value of that element’s content, as are any relevant margin values that don’t collapse into the margins of other elements.

If you instead assign a discrete width value to a block element and change the values of its left and right margins to auto, that element will be centered within its container as pictured in Figure 6-2.

Centering a block of text, as margins are automatically set outside the border

Figure 6-2. Centering a block of text, as margins are automatically set outside the border

Note

This section makes occasional references to “computed” width and height: the dimensions of an element after the user agent has rendered the page. This concept is also mentioned in Chapter 14.

The overflow Property

An element narrower than its container can be centered horizontally without regard to its specified or computed width, but this doesn’t work for element height. The literal height of an element and its container must both be known in advance, before ...

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