CSS Box Model
Show Properties Table Only


The CSS box model consists of margins, borders, padding, and content.

The most intricate aspect of the box model is the border, which has a wide variety of attributes that can be set, including the width, style, color, radius, and image, and all of those settings can be set individually per edge. Additionally, the border can be further decorated with outlines and shadows. This gives the designer a huge variety of creative options to consider.

In this article we consider the core CSS properties that affect the box size and visible appearance. It covers margins, padding, borders, outlines, box shadows, and content sizing. It does not cover other ancillary properties that affect the entire appearance of the box and its content, such as fonts, text styling, colors, transforms, etc.

Web Resources

Visual Depiction

Box Model Properties

CSS Property Description
Margins Margins are used to push the box border away from the surrounding content
margin‑top: <value>; The top margin
margin‑left: <value>; The left margin
margin‑bottom: <value>; The bottom margin
margin‑right: <value>; The right margin
Margin Shortcuts Specify all margins in a single setting
margin: <top> <right> <bottom> <left>; Since all 4 values are specified, the values are assigned starting with the top and proceeding clockwise around the box.
margin: <top> <right‑and‑left> <bottom>; Since the left margin value was omitted, the second value is used for both left and right.
margin: <top‑and‑bottom> <right‑and‑left>; Since only two values are specified, the first value is used for the top and bottom, and the second value is used for right and left.
margin: <value>; Since only one value is specified, the same value is used for all 4 margin settings.
Padding Padding pushes the content away from the box border.
padding‑top: <value>; The top padding
padding‑left: <value>; The left padding
padding‑bottom: <value>; The bottom padding
padding‑right: <value>; The right padding
Padding Shortcuts Specify all paddings in a single setting
padding: <top> <right> <bottom> <left>; Set paddings with a single setting in a clockwise fashion.
padding: <top> <right‑and‑left> <bottom>; "
padding: <top‑and‑bottom> <right‑and‑left>; "
padding: <value>; "
Border Widths The border width specifies the thickness of the border on each side
border‑top‑width: <value>; The top border width
border‑left‑width: <value>; The left border width
border‑bottom‑width: <value>; The bottom border width
border‑right‑width: <value>; The right border width
Border Width Shortcuts Specify all border widths in a single setting
border‑width: <top> <right> <bottom> <left>; Set border widths with a single setting in a clockwise fashion.
border‑width: <top> <right‑and‑left> <bottom>; "
border‑width: <top‑and‑bottom> <right‑and‑left>; "
border‑width: <value>; "
Border Style The border styles specifies how the borders are drawn
border‑top‑style: <value>; The top border style
Possible Values
border‑left‑style: <value>; The left border style
border‑bottom‑style: <value>; The bottom border style
border‑right‑style: <value>; The right border style
Border Style Shortcuts Specify all border styles in a single setting
border‑style: <top> <right> <bottom> <left>; Set border styles with a single setting in a clockwise fashion.
border‑style: <top> <right‑and‑left> <bottom>; "
border‑style: <top‑and‑bottom> <right‑and‑left>; "
border‑style: <value>; "
Border Colors The border color can be set individually for each side
border‑top‑color: <value>; The top border color
border‑left‑color: <value>; The left border color
border‑bottom‑color: <value>; The bottom border color
border‑right‑color: <value>; The right border color
Border Color Shortcuts Specify all border colors in a single setting
border‑color: <top> <right> <bottom> <left>; Set border colors with a single setting in a clockwise fashion.
border‑color: <top> <right‑and‑left> <bottom>; "
border‑color: <top‑and‑bottom> <right‑and‑left>; "
border‑color: <value>; "
Border Radiuses Border radius properties allow for rounded corders
border‑top‑left‑radius: <horiz‑radius> [ ;<vert‑radius> ]; Sets the top-left radius in units or percentages. More details
border‑top‑right‑radius: <horiz‑radius> [ <vert‑radius> ]; Sets the top-right radius in units or percentages. More details
border‑bottom‑left‑radius: <horiz‑radius> [ <vert‑radius> ]; Sets the bottom-left radius in units or percentages. More details
border‑bottom‑right‑radius: <horiz‑radius> [ <vert‑radius> ]; Sets the bottom-right radius in units or percentages. More details
Border Radius Shortcuts Specify all border radiuses in a single setting
border‑radius: <1‑to‑4‑values> [ / <1‑to‑4‑values> ];

Set border radiuses with a single setting in a clockwise fashion. Similar to all the other shortcuts, except now we are going by corners instead of sides, starting with the top-left corner. More details

Values can be a unit value or a percentage.

The specified values define the radii of two quarter elipses. The first value is the horizontal radius. The second value, if specified, is the vertical radius. If it is omitted, the value is copied from the horizontal radius, and thus the border becomes a quarter-circle.

In this shorthand notations, the first group of up to 4 values defines the horizontal radius, which are applied clockwise around box (sort of). The specify a second set of values (for the vertical radius), insert a slash and then the next set of up to 4 values.

Thus, the box borders in their entirety consist of 8 separate values, giving lots of creative flexibility in defining box boundaries. One can create some fairly strange shapes use border radiuses.

Border Image Instead of a color, you can provide an image to use as the border
border‑image‑outset: <1‑to‑4‑values>;

Specifies the amount by which the border image area extends beyond the border box.

Value can be a length (with a unit specifier) or a plain number. When specified as a number, represents a multiple of the corresponding border width.

As with all prior shortcut settings above, the settings can be applied individually to each side by specifying 1 to 4 values that go clockwise around the border.

border‑image‑repeat: <1‑to‑4‑values>;

Specifies how the border images are scaled and tiled.

Possible values are: stretch, repeat, round, and space. More details.

As per usual, specify 1 to 4 values in a clockwise fashion.

border‑image‑slice: <1‑to‑4‑values>;

Specifies how to slice the image specified by the border image source. The image is sliced into 9 pieces: the four corners, the four edges, and the middle.

More details.

As per usual, specify 1 to 4 values in a clockwise fashion.

border‑image‑source: url(<image‑location‑url>);

Specifies the source of the border image. Note: Unlike the other image settings, you do not specify up to four values. You only specify one image. Presumably you're supposed to use the slice property to designate how to utilize the one image that is provided.

More details.

border‑image‑width: <1‑to‑4‑values>;

Specifies the width of the border image.

More details.

As per usual, specify 1 to 4 values in a clockwise fashion.

Border Image Shortcut Specify the border image parameters in a single setting
border‑image: source [slice] [width] [outset] [repeat];

If you don't mind using the same slice, width, outset, and repeat settings for all four edges, you can use this shortcut parameter to set them. Otherwise, use the individual image settings to set them for each edge as-needed.

More details.

Border Shortcut Specify basic border properties in a single setting
border: [<width>] [<style>] [<color>]; If you want to use the same settings for all 4 edges of the border, you can use the border shortcut to set the width, style, and color of the border in one setting. More details.
Outlines Outlines are used to highlight a border, but do not take up extra space
About Outlines

Outlines are an often overlooked aspect of the box model. This could be because outlines do not take up space or change the dimension of the box (presumably outlines encroach into the box's margin). Outline are often used to highlight the focus of input elements. For example, the Chrome browser by default sets a blue outline around form input elements when they have focus.

Unlike margins, padding, and border settings, the same outline values must be used for all edges of the outline.

outline‑color: <value>; Specifies the color of the outline. More details.
outline‑offset: <value>; The distance between the border and the outline. More details.
outline‑style: <value>; The style of the outline. More details.
outline‑width: <value>; The width of the outline. More details.
Outline Shortcut Specify all outline properties in a single setting
outline: [<color>] [<style>] [<width>]; The color, style, and width of the outline can be set in a single setting with a shortcut. The outline offset must be set separately. More details.
Box Shadows Draws one or more shadows to give the box a 3-dimensional look
box‑shadow: <settings>; Sets the box shadow properties. Box shadow properties can be quite intricate. More details.
Content Height and Width How the box content is sized
height: <value>;

If box‑sizing is set to context‑box, then this setting determines the height of the box's content. The total size of the box would be the content height, plus the padding, border, and margins.

If box‑sizing is set to border‑box, then this setting determines the height of the content + padding + border. The total height of the box would be this value, plus the margin. The height of the content would be this value - padding - border.

Heights and widths are ignored for inline elements (such as <span> elements by default). Inline elements always shrink or expand to accomodate the size of their children.

The value can be a unit value or a percentage. When expressed as a percentage, it is relative to the size of the parent box.

width: <value>; Sets the width of the box, using the same algorithm as the height (see above).
box‑sizing: content‑box; The default sizing method for the box. The height and width are applied to the content only, and do not include the margin, padding, or border.
box‑sizing: border‑box; The height and width are applied to the total size of the content + padding + border, but does not include the margin.