How to define absolute positioned element's anchor point?

Tags: html,css

Problem :

Is it possible to define positioned element's anchor point without CSS transformations ?

I want to place an arrow before a variable centered div, but I have to define offset (left: -20px;).

If I were to increase the font size, the gap between the arrow and the block wouldn't be proportionate any more.

How can I define my absolute positioned element's anchor as top right corner instead of top left ?


<div id="block">
   <div id="arrow">&larr;</div>


#block {
   height: 20px;
   width : 40px;
   margin: 0 auto;
   border: 1px solid black;
   position: relative;

#arrow {
   position: absolute;
   left: -20px;
   top : 0;

In this example the block is of fixed width, but in my code it is variable. Might need adiffrent solution.

Thank you !

Solution :

You can achieve this using em as a unit of measurement, rather than absolute pixels:

#block {
    font-size: 16px;
    height: 1em;
    width: 2.5em;
    margin: 0 auto;
    border: 1px solid black;
    position: relative;

#arrow {
    position: absolute;
    left: -1em;
    top: 0;

Using em to measure the height and width of the #block also has the added advantage that if the font size is changed, then the box resizes to fit the text accordingly.

You can see it working here:

(Just change the font-size property to see it change.)

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