Celebrating 20 years online :)
Web Dev + WordPress + Security

Force Margin/Space Between List and Floated Image

If you’re displaying floated images in your posts, you may notice that margins of lists and other block-level elements seem to “collapse”, as shown in this screenshot from the 2013 redesign:

[ Screenshot: Unordered list wrapping against floated image ]

And here is what is happening behind the scenes (Chrome browser):

[ Screenshot: Unordered list wrapping against floated image (via Inspect Element) ]

As you can see, the list is simply ignoring the floated item and stretching across the entire width of the content area. Depending on the design, this may not be a huge deal, but there is an easy way to prevent it from happening. Just apply a width and overflow property to the list element:

.content ul, .content ol { width: auto; overflow: hidden; }

Applying that code, the margin kicks in and we get this:

[ Screenshot: Unordered list with margin between floated image ]

..which looks like this under the hood:

[ Screenshot: Unordered list with margin between floated image (via Inspect Element) ]

This trick also works on other block-level elements, such as <div>s. Here is another example from the recent redesign, which shows a <div> stretching full-width behind the floated element, again in Chrome:

[ Screenshot: Div stretching full-width behind floated image ]

To get the popout <div> to sit next to the floated image — without floating it — we apply the simple fix:

.popout { width: auto; overflow: hidden; }

..which gives us this:

[ Screenshot: Div sitting next to floated image ]

..and via Inspect Element:

[ Screenshot: Div sitting next to floated image (via Inspect Element) ]

That’s pretty much it, although for this design I opted to let the popout divs stretch behind the floated images, just seems like a nice effect :)

This technique tested on latest Chrome 67+, Firefox 60+, and Opera 53+.

About the Author
Jeff Starr = Fullstack Developer. Book Author. Teacher. Human Being.
Banhammer: Protect your WordPress site against threats.

39 responses to “Force Margin/Space Between List and Floated Image”

  1. Laszlo Radics 2013/08/28 4:59 am

    the keyword is: “Block formating context”. It’s very important to known.

  2. A new block formatting context can be created not only by the overflow property. There are other methods too. All of them won’t hide the overflowing content :)

  3. I also have an additional remark :)

    This method is good when a list content shouldn’t be under the floated image. Because it will never be under it.

  4. Great fix, thanks for sharing.

  5. Peter Sorensen 2013/08/28 6:27 am

    Excellent! Tripped onto this only to find it’s exactly what I’ve been needing. Thanks!

  6. Boris Delev 2013/08/28 5:43 am

    …you can set list-style-position: inside; to “li” element and… ready.

  7. Thank you very much!

  8. Can anyone briefly explain why this works for the newbies?

  9. Over the years, looking for a solution. Sir, you are just darling!

  10. been waiting for this for way too long…

  11. Samiullah Khan 2013/08/28 11:01 pm

    I really like this, but i don’t like this nature of hacking css, look we don’t have any clear reason why this is happening. When ever you ask such you get answers like “according to w3c this property supposed to work that way”. CSS you are to young as far as layout is concerned.

  12. Patrick Samphire 2013/08/30 2:52 am

    I spent so long trying to figure out how to do this, and eventually gave up. Thank you! You’re awesome. Bookmarked!

Comments are closed for this post. Something to add? Let me know.
Perishable Press is operated by Jeff Starr, a professional web developer and book author with two decades of experience. Here you will find posts about web development, WordPress, security, and more »
SAC Pro: Unlimited chats.
Crazy that we’re almost halfway thru 2024.
I live right next door to the absolute loudest car in town. And the owner loves to drive it.
8G Firewall now out of beta testing, ready for use on production sites.
It's all about that ad revenue baby.
Note to self: encrypting 500 GB of data on my iMac takes around 8 hours.
Getting back into things after a bit of a break. Currently 7° F outside. Chillz.
Get news, updates, deals & tips via email.
Email kept private. Easy unsubscribe anytime.