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Explain the positions property in CSS

  • Last Updated : 29 Sep, 2021

In this article, we will see what is position property, how to use this property wisely in order to make web pages. The position property is used to align the different elements in the HTML page. Position Property plays an important role to make high-quality web pages.

There are 5 position properties in CSS:

  • static (default)
  • relative
  • absolute
  • fixed
  • sticky

Syntax:

selector{
    position: value;
}
value = static, relative, absolute, fixed, sticky

Let’s understand each of these properties one by one.

 

1. position: static It is the default position value for the element. Under static position, elements positioned according to the normal flow of the page.

Note: left, right, top, and bottom properties will not affect if position is static.

Example:

HTML




<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
  
<head>
    <style>
        .purple {
            height: 200px;
            width: 200px;
            color: black;
            font-size: 1.5rem;
            padding: 10px;
            background-color: purple;
        }
  
        .cyan {
            position: static;
            font-size: 1.5rem;
            padding: 10px;
            height: 200px;
            width: 200px;
            background-color: cyan;
        }
    </style>
</head>
  
<body>
    <div class="purple">
        I am reference
    </div>
    <div class="cyan">
        I am static element
    </div>
</body>
  
</html>

Output:

2. Position: Relative In this case, the element remains in the normal flow of the document but left, right, top, and bottom affects. Elements get shifted from their original position in the document creating vacant space and other elements may adjust themselves according to the vacant space left by the element.

 

Example:

HTML




<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
  
<head>
    <style>
        .purple {
            height: 200px;
            width: 200px;
            color: black;
            font-size: 1.5rem;
            padding: 10px;
            background-color: purple;
        }
  
        .cyan {
            position: relative;
            left: 100px;
            top: 90px;
            font-size: 1.5rem;
            padding: 10px;
            height: 200px;
            width: 200px;
            background-color: cyan;
        }
    </style>
</head>
  
<body>
    <div class="purple"> I am reference </div>
    <div class="cyan"> I am relative element </div>
</body>
  
</html>

Output:

Explanation: We can see here element change its left and top from the original position creating some space.

3. position: absolute Absolute elements do not follow the normal flow document instead they position themselves relative to the closest positioned ancestor. Its final position is determined using the top, bottom,  left and right.

Note: The positioned element means element having position property other than static.

These element does not occupy any space and other elements treats absolute elements like there is no element. Parent element should be positioned and position property other than absolute and If parent element is not positioned then absolute element position themselves according to nearest positioned ancestor. We generally set z-index when using absolute position.

 

Consider Two cases to understand absolute position:

1st case: When parent property value is positioned means position property of parent is not equal to static.

HTML




<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
  
<head>
    <style>
        .purple {
            position: relative;
            height: 200px;
            width: 200px;
            color: black;
            font-size: 1.5rem;
            padding: 10px;
            background-color: purple;
        }
  
        .cyan {
            position: absolute;
            bottom: 10px;
            left: 70px;
            font-size: 1.5rem;
            padding: 10px;
            height: 100px;
            width: 100px;
            background-color: cyan;
        }
    </style>
</head>
  
<body>
    <div class="purple">
        I am positioned and parent
        <div class="cyan"> I am absolute element </div>
    </div>
</body>
  
</html>

Output:

Explanation: Here we can see child element has adjusted itself according to parent and no extra space is assign to it.

2nd Case: When parent element is not positioned.

HTML




<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
  
<head>
    <style>
        .purple {
            position: static;
            height: 200px;
            width: 200px;
            color: black;
            font-size: 1.5rem;
            padding: 10px;
            background-color: purple;
        }
  
        .cyan {
            position: absolute;
            bottom: 10px;
            left: 70px;
            font-size: 1.5rem;
            padding: 10px;
            height: 100px;
            width: 100px;
            background-color: cyan;
        }
    </style>
</head>
  
<body>
    <div class="purple">
        I am not-positioned and parent
        <div class="cyan"> I am absolute element </div>
    </div>
</body>
  
</html>

Output:

Explanation: As the parent is not positioned, the child element will try to adjust itself relative to nearest positioned ancestor. Here nearest positioned ancestor is <HTML> so element gets adjust according to <HTML>.

4. position: Fixed Fixed element does not follow normal document flow and position themselves relative to <HTML> tag. This element always stick to the screen.

 

Example:

HTML




<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
  
<head>
    <style>
        .purple {
            position: relative;
            height: 2000px;
            width: 200px;
            color: black;
            font-size: 1.5rem;
            font-family: sans-serif;
            padding: 10px;
            background-color: purple;
        }
  
        .cyan {
            position: fixed;
            top: 200px;
            left: 10px;
            padding: 10px;
            font-size: 1rem;
            color: black;
            height: 100px;
            width: 100px;
            background-color: cyan;
        }
    </style>
</head>
  
<body>
    <div class="purple">
        I am reference
        <div class="cyan">
            I am fixed element
        </div>
    </div>
</body>
  
</html>

Output:

You can see the fixed element remain at its position even after scrolling up and down. 

5. position: sticky It’s kind of little tricky but very easy to understand. We can think of sticky as combination of relative and fixed. Remember in fixed element remain fixed at some position but in sticky element will behave like relative to certain point and after behave like fixed.

Example:

HTML




<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
  
<head>
    <style>
        .purple {
            position: absolute;
            height: 2000px;
            width: 200px;
            color: black;
            font-size: 1.5rem;
            font-family: sans-serif;
            padding: 10px;
            background-color: purple;
        }
  
        .cyan {
            position: sticky;
            top: 10px;
            left: 0px;
            padding: 10px;
            font-size: 1rem;
            color: black;
            height: 100px;
            width: 100px;
            background-color: cyan;
            z-index: 2;
        }
  
        .yellow {
            padding: 10px;
            position: relative;
            height: 100px;
            width: 100px;
            background-color: yellow;
        }
    </style>
</head>
  
<body>
    <div class="purple">
        <div class="yellow">I am reference</div>
        <div class="cyan">
            I am sticky element
        </div>
        <div class="yellow">I am reference</div>
    </div>
</body>
  
</html>

Output:

Explanation: In the above output, you can see the sticky element behaves like a relative element until it reaches a particular offset. Then beyond that point, it sticks to the page and behaves like fixed (here that offset is 10px from top).

Note: In sticky left, right, top and bottom does not determine the position of the element in the relative state but it specifies at what position element should behave like fixed.


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