Type to generate custom UI components with AI

Type to generate UI components from text

OR

Browse thousands of MUI, Tailwind, React components that are fully customizable and responsive.

Explore Components

Create Complex Designs Easily Using Align Content CSS

Alignment is a fundamental concept in CSS that plays a crucial role in designing and laying out web pages. It is the process of arranging elements within a container to create a visually appealing and coherent layout. This concept is particularly important in CSS Grid, a powerful layout system that allows developers to create complex designs with ease.

The align content CSS property is a key tool in controlling the alignment of grid items along the block axis (vertically, if the writing mode is horizontal). This property works in conjunction with other alignment properties like align-items and align-self to provide fine-grained control over the alignment of elements within a grid container.

The aim of this article is to provide a comprehensive understanding of the align-content property and its usage in CSS. We will explore how this property interacts with other alignment properties, how it can be used to create various layouts, and how it can be used to control the spacing between grid items. We will also discuss the different values that the align-content property can take and how they affect the alignment of grid items.

By the end of this article, you should have a solid understanding of the align-content property and how to use it effectively to create well-structured and visually appealing layouts in CSS Grid.

If you are working on a CSS project, and you want to be 5x more productive, you want to skip the boring part of styling components yourself, check out our AI-generated custom components for CSS. This allows you to quickly get started on your project.

Understanding the align-content Property

At its core, the align-content property is a CSS attribute that dictates how available space along the cross-axis of a container is distributed among multiple lines of flex items. This property essentially determines the alignment of these lines within the container, offering a nuanced control over the spatial arrangement of elements.

Consider a scenario where you have a flex container containing multiple rows or columns of flex items. The align-content property comes into play when there’s surplus space along the cross-axis – it defines how this extra space is allocated or distributed. By setting the align-content property, you gain control over the spacing between these flex lines, adjusting the overall alignment of the contained items in a flex container. The align-content property can also be used on a grid container to align grid items in the block direction (block direction is downward and inline direction is left to right).

CSS Syntax

The CSS syntax for the align-content property is as follows:

align-content: stretch|center|flex-start|flex-end|space-between|space-around|space-evenly|initial|inherit;

This property can take several values, each of which controls the alignment of the items in a different way

Further explanation of how align-content works with flex containers:

In the context of flex containers, the align-content property orchestrates the alignment of flex lines. Flex lines are, essentially, rows if the flex container has a flex-direction set to row, or columns if the flex-direction is set to column.

When there’s additional space along the cross-axis (vertical space for a row-oriented container or horizontal space for a column-oriented container), align-content becomes instrumental. It determines how the browser should distribute this extra space among the flex lines. This distribution impacts the overall positioning of the flex items within the container.

For example, setting align-content: space-between; will evenly distribute the available space between the flex lines, resulting in a layout where the space between each row (or column) is the same.

Discussion on the effect of align-content on single line flex containers:

While align-content is often associated with multi-line flex containers, its influence extends to single-line containers as well. In a single-line context, the property takes action when there is excess space along the cross-axis, even if there’s only one line of flex items.

Consider a scenario where you have a single-line flex container with items that don’t fully occupy the available space. In such cases, align-content can determine the alignment of these items within the container.

Understanding this dual role of align-content is crucial for developers. It allows for versatility in design, enabling the creation of layouts that dynamically respond to varying content sizes and screen dimensions. Whether it’s a multi-line or single-line flex container, the align-content property plays a pivotal role in optimizing the use of available space and achieving the desired visual balance in the layout.

Using align-content with Flexbox Practice

To truly grasp the power and versatility of the align-content property in CSS, it’s crucial to delve into practical examples within the realm of flex containers. Let’s embark on a hands-on exploration to understand how this property can shape and refine our layouts.

Example of using align-content with a flex container:

Consider a basic HTML structure with a flex container containing three items:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
<head>
  <meta charset="UTF-8">
  <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0">
  <style>
    .flex-container {
      display: flex;
      height: 300px; /* Set a fixed height for illustration purposes */
      align-content: space-between; /* Experiment with different values for varied results */
      border: 2px solid #ccc;
    }

    .flex-item {
      width: 100px;
      height: 50px;
      background-color: #3498db;
      margin: 5px;
    }
  </style>
</head>
<body>
  <div class="flex-container">
    <div class="flex-item"></div>
    <div class="flex-item"></div>
    <div class="flex-item"></div>
  </div>
</body>
</html>

In this example, we’ve created a straightforward flex container with three flex items. The align-content property for the parent element is set to space-between, which means the available space along the cross-axis will be evenly distributed between the rows, providing a visually balanced layout.

even space in the container

Discussion on the effect of different align-content values:

The real magic of align-content unfolds when we experiment with various values. Let’s dissect the impact of different align-content values on our flex container:

  • stretch: This value stretches the flex lines to fill the entire container height. In our example, you would observe the flex items stretching to occupy the full height of the container.

  • flex-start: Aligns flex lines at the start of the container, leaving any surplus space at the bottom. The items will be aligned at the top of the container.

  • flex-end: Conversely, this aligns flex lines at the end of the container, leaving excess space at the top. The items will be aligned at the bottom of the container.

  • center: This value centers the flex lines within the container, providing a visually centered arrangement of items.

  • space-between: As demonstrated in our example, this distributes space evenly between flex lines, with no space at the start or end. It creates a layout where the space between each pair of items is the same.

  • space-around: Distributes space around flex lines, resulting in equal space at the start, between, and at the end. This means both the start and end have half the space as the space between items.

By manipulating these values, developers gain precise control over the alignment and spacing of flex items within the container. This dynamic approach is invaluable when crafting layouts that need to adapt to varying content sizes and design aesthetics.

Experimenting with align-content values is not just a technical exercise; it’s an artistic endeavor where developers can fine-tune the visual harmony of their layouts based on specific design goals. It’s this flexibility and adaptability that make align-content a cornerstone in the toolkit of every CSS layout architect.

align-content with CSS Grid

The align-content property is not only applicable to flex containers but also to CSS Grid layouts. So, this property is used to align the grid’s content along the block (column) axis.

Explanation of how align-content works with CSS Grid:

In the context of CSS Grid, the align-content property is utilized to manage the alignment of grid tracks when there is extra space along the block axis. This extra space can arise due to specified sizes of grid tracks, implicit row or column creation, or a combination of both.

Let’s break down the terminology:

  • Grid Tracks: These are the rows (in a grid with a row-oriented layout) or columns (in a grid with a column-oriented layout) that form the structure of the grid.

  • Block Axis: The axis perpendicular to the inline axis, typically the vertical axis in a row-oriented layout or the horizontal axis in a column-oriented layout.

When there’s surplus space along the block axis – space not occupied by the defined sizes of grid tracks – align-content steps in to determine how this space is distributed among the rows (or columns) in the grid.

For example, if you have a grid container of 500 pixels by 500 pixels, and you have defined 3 row and column tracks each of 100 pixels with a 10 pixels gutter, then you have space inside the grid container both in the block and inline directions. In this case, the align-content property can be used to align the grid tracks themselves, inside that container.

Example of using align-content with a CSS Grid container

Let’s consider a simple example of a CSS grid layout with three items:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
<head>
  <meta charset="UTF-8">
  <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0">
  <style>
    .grid-container {
      display: grid;
      grid-template-rows: 100px 100px; /* Define two rows with a fixed size of 100 pixels */
      align-content: space-around; /* Utilize space-around for even distribution of surplus space */
      width: 300px; /* Set a fixed width for illustration purposes */
      border: 2px solid #ccc; /* Add a border for visual clarity */
    }

    .grid-item {
      background-color: #3498db;
      padding: 10px;
      margin: 5px;
      text-align: center;
    }
  </style>
</head>
<body>
  <div class="grid-container">
    <div class="grid-item">Item 1</div>
    <div class="grid-item">Item 2</div>
  </div>
</body>
</html>

In this example:

We have a CSS Grid container with two rows, each assigned a fixed size of 100 pixels. The align-content property is set to space-around, indicating that the available space along the block axis (between and beyond the rows) should be distributed evenly.

  • .grid-container is the CSS Grid container.

  • grid-template-rows: defines two rows, each with a fixed size of 100 pixels.

  • align-content: space-around ensures that any surplus space along the block axis (in this case, above and below the rows) is distributed evenly around and between the rows.

  • .grid-item: represents the individual items within the grid, styled for visual clarity.

Impact of align-content in the example:

space-around: With this value, the surplus space is distributed around each row, creating a visually balanced layout. The effect is noticeable in the spacing above and below each row, as well as the space at the top and bottom of the entire grid container.

This example showcases how align-content enables the creation of aesthetically pleasing and dynamically responsive grid layouts. The property provides a means to maintain balance and harmony in the arrangement of grid tracks, ensuring a visually engaging result, especially when dealing with variable content or different screen sizes.

Understanding and effectively utilizing align-content in CSS Grid layouts enhances the developer’s ability to craft versatile and visually appealing designs. As layouts become increasingly complex and diverse, the nuanced control provided by align-content proves invaluable in creating grids that seamlessly adapt to the demands of modern web design.

Other Alignment Properties

While the align-content property is a powerful tool for controlling the distribution of space between and around flex lines or grid items, there are other CSS properties that also play a crucial role in aligning content. These properties include align-items, justify-content, text-align, and more. Each of these properties serves a unique purpose and can be used in combination with align-content to achieve complex layouts.

align-items

The align-items property focuses on the alignment of individual flex items within a flex container. It allows developers to specify how items align along the cross-axis, complementing the broader control offered by align-content. Values such as flex-start, flex-end, center, baseline, and stretch provide precise control over the vertical alignment of items within the container.

For example:

.flex-container {
  display: flex;
  align-items: center; /* Align items vertically at the center */
}

justify-content

While align-content focuses on the vertical alignment of flex lines, justify-content is its horizontal counterpart. It governs the alignment of items within a flex container along the main axis. With values like flex-start, flex-end, center, space-between, space-around, and space-evenly, justify-content offers comprehensive control over the horizontal placement of items.

For example:

.flex-container {
  display: flex;
  justify-content: space-between; /* Distribute items along the main axis with space between (container space between)*/
}

This results in equal space between each pair of items, enhancing the overall visual balance of the layout.

text-align

The text-align property extends alignment control beyond flex containers, influencing the horizontal alignment of text content within an element. It accepts values like left, right, center, and justify. While it might seem more aligned with text styling, its impact on alignment is noteworthy, especially when dealing with inline or inline-block elements.

For example:

.container {
  text-align: center; /* Center-align text content within the container */
}

This ensures that any text content within the container is horizontally centered.

align-self

For fine-grained control over the alignment of individual flex items, the align-self property comes into play. It allows specific items to override the align-items setting for their alignment along the cross-axis.

For example:

.flex-item {
  align-self: flex-end; /* Align this specific item to the flex-end within the container */
}

This provides flexibility in customizing the alignment of individual items within a flex container.

Below is a complete HTML and CSS code example demonstrating the use of align-items, justify-content, text-align, and align-self:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
<head>
  <meta charset="UTF-8">
  <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0">
  <style>
    .flex-container {
      display: flex;
      height: 200px;
      border: 2px solid #ccc;
      margin-bottom: 20px;
    }

    .item {
      width: 100px;
      height: 100px;
      background-color: #3498db;
      margin: 5px;
      display: flex;
      align-items: center;
      justify-content: center;
      color: #fff;
    }

    .align-items-center {
      align-items: center;
    }

    .justify-content-space-between {
      justify-content: space-between;
    }

    .text-align-center {
      text-align: center;
    }

    .align-self-flex-end {
      align-self: flex-end;
    }
  </style>
</head>
<body>

  <!-- Example of align-items (element vertically centered) -->
  <div class="flex-container align-items-center">
    <div class="item">1</div>
    <div class="item">2</div>
    <div class="item">3</div>
  </div>

  <!-- Example of justify-content -->
  <div class="flex-container justify-content-space-between">
    <div class="item">1</div>
    <div class="item">2</div>
    <div class="item">3</div>
  </div>

  <!-- Example of text-align -->
  <div class="text-align-center">
    <p>This text is centered.</p>
  </div>

  <!-- Example of align-self -->
  <div class="flex-container">
    <div class="item align-self-flex-end">1</div>
    <div class="item">2</div>
    <div class="item">3</div>
  </div>

</body>
</html>

In this example:

  • The first two sections demonstrate the use of align-items and justify-content within a flex container.

  • The third section showcases the application of text-align to center-align text content within a container.

  • The last section demonstrates the use of align-self to customize the alignment of a specific item within a flex container.

Final Thoughts

CSS alignment, a fundamental element in web design, is crucial for both aesthetics and functionality. Properties like align-content, align-items, justify-content, and text-align provide developers with a versatile toolkit. They enables precise control over element positioning in various layouts. Their power lies in the capacity to manage alignment across main and cross axes, distributing space, aligning items, and setting horizontal text alignment within containers, whether they are flex, grid, or block-level elements.

In conclusion, the align-content property and other alignment properties in CSS are powerful tools that provide developers with the ability to control the alignment of elements in their layouts with precision and flexibility. By understanding how these properties work, you can create more complex and flexible layouts, enhancing the aesthetics and functionality of your web designs

If you want to learn more about content alignment in CSS, check out this video below:

Check out Purecode.ai for all you need to quickly create responsive re-usable CSS components for your web projects.

Victor Yakubu

Victor Yakubu