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The CSS Margin Property

Reading time 3 min
Published Aug 8, 2017
Updated Oct 15, 2019

Adding CSS margins

The CSS margin property allows you to add extra space around the chosen element:

Example
p {
   margin: 10px 15px 10px 15px;
}

Providing sufficient spacing around menu items, scrollbars, and other HTML elements clarifies and improves the overall structure of the page. Thus, CSS margins make it easier for the user to navigate and interact.

Note: don't get confused with CSS margin vs padding: margin sets the spacing outside the borders, and padding does so within the element.

Setting CSS margin values

When using the CSS margin property, you can define up to four values:

margin: value1 value2 value3 value4;

Based on how many values you specify, the property assumes the remaining values using different logic. Understand how to define the CSS margin order by reviewing the table below.

Syntax Example Explanation
One value margin: 5px; All four margins are the same.
Two values margin: 5px 10px; The first value defines the top and bottom margins.
The second value defines the left and right margins.
Three values margin: 5px 10px 15px; The first value defines the top margin.
The second value defines the left and right margins.
The third value defines the bottom margin.
Four values margin: 5px 10px 15px 20px; The first value defines the top margin.
The second value defines the right margin.
The third value defines the bottom margin.
The fourth value defines the left margin.

You can define the width for CSS margin in either length units (e.g., pixels) or percentages (in relation with the container block). The default value is 0 0 0 0, which represents no CSS margin.

Tip: you can also use the keyword auto, in which case the browser will select the margin for the HTML element.

Manipulating each CSS margin individually

CSS margin is actually a shorthand for four subproperties:

  • margin-top
  • margin-right
  • margin-bottom
  • margin-left

If you don't want to use the shorthand or just want to be extra sure about the CSS margin order, you can also use the subproperties on their own.

To apply margin to the top of an element, use margin-top:

Example
p {
   margin-top: 10px;
}

To apply margin to the right of an element, use margin-right:

Example
p {
   margin-right: 5px;
}

To apply margin to the bottom of an element, use margin-bottom:

Example
p {
   margin-bottom: 10px;
}

To apply margin to the left of an element, use margin-left:

Example
p {
   display: block;
   margin-left: 5px;
}

Browser support

Browser image
Chrome
1+
Browser image
Edge
12+
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Firefox
1+
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IE
3+
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Opera
3.5+
Browser image
Safari
1+

Mobile browser support

Browser image
Chrome
18+
Browser image
Firefox
4+
Browser image
Opera
10.1+
Browser image
Safari
1+