How to do Vertical+Horizontal centering in CSS

Tags: css

Problem :

It regularly occurs that I want to center a css box inside another one both vertically and horizontally. What's the simplest way to do so that satisfies the following constraints?

  • The box should be precisely centered, not approximately.
  • The technique should work in modern browsers and in IE versions back to 8
  • The technique should not depend on explicitly knowing the width or height of either the centered content or the containing box.
  • I generally know the container is larger than the content, but supporting larger content (which then overflows symmetrically) would be nice...
  • The underlying content of the container must still be able to respond to clicks and hovers except where obscured by the centered content

I currently use 4 (!) nested divs to achieve this, with css along the following lines:

.centering-1 {
    top:0; left:0; right:0; bottom:0;
.centering-2 { 
.centering-3 { 
.centering-content { 

You can see this in action as a jsbin snippet. However, this approach, while workable, feels like extreme overkill due to the large number of wrapper divs, and it doesn't work with content that's larger than the container. How can I center things in CSS?

Solution :

Horizontal centering is easy:

.inner {
  width: 70%; /* Anything less than 100% */
  margin-left: auto;
  margin-right: auto;

But vertical centering is a little tricky. The best technique for modern browsers is to combine inline-block and a pseudo elements. This originates from "Ghost element", the last technique at It sets adds a pseudo-element and uses inline-block styles get the centering. The CSS:

.outer { 
  height: 10rem; 
  text-align: center; 
  outline: dotted black 1px; 

.outer:before { 
  content: ''; 
  display: inline-block; 
  height: 100%; 
  vertical-align: middle;

.inner { 
  width: 10rem; 
  display: inline-block; 
  vertical-align: middle;
  outline: solid black 1px; 

An example on Codepen:

For simpler cases, the following may be good options:

For single lines of content, you can do a quick and dirty vertical centering job on the text within an element by using line-height larger than your font-size:

.inner { 
  border: 1px solid #666; 
  line-height: 200%;

The solution with widest support is to use a non-semantic table. This works with very old versions of IE and doesn't require JavaScript:

td.inner { 
  vertical-align: middle; 

And here is simple solution for known height elements (which could be in ems, not px):

.outer { 
.inner { 
  position: absolute; 
  width: 50%; left: 25%; 

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