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The New Clearfix Method

Say goodbye to the age-old clearfix hack and hello to the new and improved clearfix method..

The clearfix hack, or “easy-clearing” hack, is a useful method of clearing floats. I have written previously about the original clearfix method and even suggested a few improvements. The original clearfix hack works great, but the browsers that it targets are either obsolete or well on their way. Specifically, Internet Explorer 5 for Mac is now history, so there is no reason to bother with it when using the clearfix method of clearing floats.

The original clearfix hack looks something like this:

.clearfix:after {
	visibility: hidden;
	display: block;
	font-size: 0;
	content: " ";
	clear: both;
	height: 0;
.clearfix { display: inline-table; }
/* Hides from IE-mac \*/
* html .clearfix { height: 1%; }
.clearfix { display: block; }
/* End hide from IE-mac */

Yes it’s ugly, but it works very well, enabling designers to clear floats without hiding overflow and setting a width or floating (nearly) everything to get the job done. The logic behind this hack goes something like this:

  • Target compliant browsers with the first declaration block (if all browsers were standards-compliant, this would be the only thing needed) and create a hidden clearing block after the content of the target element.
  • The second declaration applies an inline-table display property, exclusively for the benefit of IE/Mac.
  • At this point, we use the comment-backslash hack to hide the remainder of the rules from IE/Mac. This enables us to do the following:
  • Apply a 1% height only to IE6 to trigger hasLayout (which is required for the hack to work)
  • Re-apply display:block to everything except IE/Mac
  • The last line is a comment that serves to close the hack for IE/Mac

As you can see, that’s a lot of fuss over a browser that has been dead for at least the last three or four years. Nobody uses IE/Mac anymore, so it is time to drop it from the clearfix hack. The result is a much cleaner and more efficient slice of CSS:

/* new clearfix */
.clearfix:after {
	visibility: hidden;
	display: block;
	font-size: 0;
	content: " ";
	clear: both;
	height: 0;
* html .clearfix             { zoom: 1; } /* IE6 */
*:first-child+html .clearfix { zoom: 1; } /* IE7 */

Stripping out that IE/Mac cruft cleans things up real nice. Notice that we have further improved the clearfix hack by adding support for IE7. Neither IE6 nor IE7 support the :after pseudo-class used in the first declaration, so we need an alternate method of applying the clearfix. Fortunately, applying zoom:1 to either browser triggers IE’s proprietary hasLayout mechanism, which works just fine to clear the float. For expediency’s sake, we accomplish this with a couple of valid browser-specific selectors, but you should be advised that conditional comments are the recommended way to go.

Fortunately, IE8 supports the :after pseudo-class, so this new clearfix method will only become more simplified as IE6 and, eventually, IE7 finally die off.

Bottom line: The new clearfix method applies clearing rules to standards-compliant browsers using the :after pseudo-class. For IE6 and IE7, the new clearfix method triggers hasLayout with some proprietary CSS. Thus, the New Clearfix method effectively clears floats in all currently used browsers without using any hacks.

Jeff Starr
About the Author Jeff Starr = Designer. Developer. Producer. Writer. Editor. Etc.
149 responses
  1. @tanya singh:

    I find it hard to believe that, unless you’re not using floats — and they’re the most commonly used layout modifying properties!

  2. hmm, I’m using the clearfix on a continre div ith 4 floated div inside and in IE7 it didnt hae ny effect
    I had to use overflow:hiddennn

  3. I don’t use clear fix too!

  4. Thanks a lot for this article, really helped me out today! Tried a couple of other clearfix-solutions, but this was the best one, cheers.

  5. Andiv Sites March 3, 2010 @ 1:07 pm

    Sometimes a lot better to leave as is Tk. Thank you! Great post!

  6. I was going to mention this line of thinking in the article, but I knew that I would have the chance to do it in the comments

  7. JohnONolan March 13, 2010 @ 8:56 am

    This line does NOT work, it triggers a bug in Firefox 3

    content: " ";

    This needs to remain (as in the old version) as content: ".";

  8. Jeff Starr

    @JohnONolan: Thanks, but I have not experienced anything weird in Firefox. What seems to be the exact issue?

  9. It’s a complex way to fix float bug. Actually browser will work smoothly when use overflow in simple html or use additional div with clearence in complex html. Becare, the additional Clearfix class will burden the browser, like up two way. So hard to get a perfect way to fix bug when browsers are ugly.

  10. I used overflow:hidden (and auto) for a couple of projects and had some unpleasant surprises later when the client printed some of their content-heavy pages. If the content div is long and the printed content would go over one page, only the first page of content would be printed and all the remaining pages would be empty. So, back to clearfix.

  11. @Jeff Starr – I had exactly the same issue as @johnonolan – the empty content:" "; rule gave a load of weird layout issues in FF3.6 – adding the period back in fixed it all…

  12. Jeff Starr

    @Luc: What was the issue exactly? I would love to check it out, but haven’t been able to recreate any issues in Fx3.6 (or otherwise). Thanks!

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