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Mastering Tailwind Width: Design An Amazing Project

As a developer, there are so many tools available to achieve maximum client-side satisfaction in web development, and tailwind CSS is one of them. Tailwind CSS is a well-known utility-first CSS framework that allows and aids you in building and designing your ideal project, most times without even leaving your HTML. The main aim of Tailwind CSS is to ease styling and layout implementation in web development by providing out-of-the-box utilities for setting different styling properties. This article focuses on the Tailwind Width class utility and how to use it in your project.

Understanding How Width Works

The CSS width property is used to specify an element’s width. It determines how much horizontal space an element should occupy within its containing element or its own dimensions if it’s not a block-level element.

Below is how the width of an element would be set using CSS;

.element {
  width: 200px;

Other width-related properties include the min-width and max-width properties;

.element {
  max-width: 200px; // This element will never grow beyond its max-width of 200px

Setting Up Tailwind in Your React Project

You get a dynamic and flexible development stack when combining Tailwind CSS with React. This guide will walk you through setting up a Tailwind CSS project with React.


Before you start setting up, make sure that you have the following prerequisites:

  1. You already have a basic knowledge of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

  2. Make sure Node.js is installed on your machine. You can download it here.

  3. You’ll need npm or yarn package manager installed. npm comes bundled with Node.js, or you can install yarn using npm by running npm install -g yarn.

Step 1: Create a React App

The first step is creating a new React project using the Create React App. To begin, open your terminal and run the command below:

npx create-react-app my-tailwind-project

You can change my-tailwind-app to your desired project name. This command will create a new React project folder with all the necessary files and dependencies.

Step 2: Install Tailwind CSS

Using your terminal, go to your newly created project folder:

cd my-tailwind-project

Now, install Tailwind CSS:

npm install tailwindcss

Or with yarn:

yarn add tailwindcss

Step 3: Configure Your Tailwind CSS

Tailwind CSS needs a configuration file to customize your project’s styles. Generate a configuration file by running the following code:

npx tailwindcss init

This creates a tailwind.config.js file in your project’s root directory. You can open the file and customize it to meet your project’s needs.

You can also connect to your template files in tailwind.config.js. To add a path, go to your ailwind.config.js in your project fine and add the content object as shown in the example below:

/** @type {import('tailwindcss').Config} */

module.exports = {
  content: [
    "./src/**/.{js,jsx,ts,tsx}", // add your template file here
  theme: {
    extend: {},
  plugins: [],

Step 4: Create a New Component

Let’s create a React component with Tailwind CSS. Go to the src directory, create a new file called MyComponent.js, and add the following code:

import React from 'react';
function MyComponent() {
  return (
    <div className="bg-cyan-400 p-6">
      <p className="text-white">Tailwind CSS component!</p>
export default MyComponent;

Step 5: Style with Tailwind CSS

In the code example above, we are using Tailwind CSS classes to style our component. The bg-cyan-400 class sets the background color to cyan, p-6 adds padding, and the text-white sets the paragraph text to white.

Step 6: Apply Design Responsiveness

Since Tailwind CSS makes it easy to create responsive designs, let’s make our component responsive by modifying our previous code example:

import React from 'react';

function MyComponent() {
  return (
    <div className="bg-cyan-400 p-6 md:w-1/2 lg:w-1/3">
      <p className="text-white">Tailwind CSS component!</p>

export default MyComponent;

In this example, we are using md:w-1/2 and lg:w-1/3 to control the component’s width on medium and large screens.

Step 7: Build for Production

When your project is finally ready for production, build it using the following command:

npm run build

Or with yarn:

yarn build

The ‘build/run build’ command generates an optimized React app build in the ‘build’ folder.

Getting Started with the Tailwind Width Utility

Tailwind CSS provides an easy substitute for setting the width of elements in your markup with its built-in width utilities. This cuts out the need to create an extra stylesheet or long CSS rules, thus reducing bundle size and improving the speed of your application.

These width utilities are easily used, customizable, and provide arbitrary value support. That is, classes may be customized by using custom px, rem and even percentage (%) values.

Using The Tailwind Width Classes In An Element

With Tailwind installed in your project, you can immediately make use of the width class utility by simply using the syntax, `w- {value} `. Here’s how you can do that;

<div class="w-1/2 bg-gray-200 p-4">
   This element is half of its container's width .

In this example, we use “w-1/2” to set the container width to 50% of its parent element. Applying “bg-gray-200” adds some background colour while “p-4” adds padding.

Responsive Designs With Breakpoints

Tailwind CSS also easily handles responsive designs for different screens with its breakpoint prefixes. They include `sm`,`md`, and `lg`. Here is an example.

<div class="w-full sm:w-1/2 md:w-1/4 lg:w-1/6 bg-gray-200 p-4"> 
    different sizes for different screens . 

This example sets the fixed width of the element to full by default and changes the maximum width to 50%, 25% and 16% at different screen sizes.

Types Of Width

Tailwind CSS width utilities allow us to style the width of an element as either fixed widths or responsive variants. They also allow us to reset an element’s width or set it relative to its parent element or viewport.

Fixed Widths

Tailwind CSS provides different utility classes that can be used to set the fixed width of an element using absolute units, such as pixels (px) or rems (rem).

Here’s an example of fixed-width utilities in use:

<div class="flex">
    <div class="w-16 bg-red-300 p-4">Fixed 4rem</div>
    <div class="w-32 bg-green-300 p-4">Fixed 8rem</div>
    <div class="w-48 bg-blue-300 p-4">Fixed 12rem</div>

Output :

This should be displayed

In the example above,

  1. We use the `w-16` class to set the first element to width: 4rem, independent of its parent element’s size or width.

  2. We use the `w-32` class to set the second element to width: 8rem.

  3. We use the `w-64` class to set the third element to width: 12rem.

Relative Widths

Full Widths

The `w-full` width utility sets the element’s width to the full width (100%) of its parent element.

Check out the example below;

<div class="flex">
   <div class="w-full"> This div is the full size of its parent </div>

Viewport Widths

The `w-screen` width utility sets an element’s width to the width (100%) of the viewport/screen.

Check out the example below;

   <div class="w-screen"> This div is the full size of the viewport </div>

Percentage Widths

Tailwind CSS provides percentage-based utilities to control the width of an element relative to the full width of its containing parent. This aids us in creating responsive designs that adapt to different screens. Here’s an example using percentage-based width.

 <div class="flex">
  <div class="w-1/4 bg-red-300 p-4">25%</div>
  <div class="w-1/2 bg-green-300 p-4">50%</div>
  <div class="w-1/4 bg-blue-300 p-4">25%</div>


This should be displayed on your screen

In the example above :

  1. We use the `w-1/4` class to set the first element to 25% of its parent container.

  2. We use the `w-1/2` class to set the second element to 50% of its parent container.

  3. We use the `w-1/4` class to set the third element to 25% of its parent container.

Width Reset

In tailwind CSS, the `w-auto` width utility overrides existing values and resets the width of an element to its default dimension. See the code below:

<div class="w-1/2 bg-blue-200">
 This div has a width of 50%
<div class="w-auto bg-green-200">
 This div has its width reset to auto


Tailwind utilities can set the minimum width as the minimum content, i.e. the width of the longest line/sentence within the element using the `min-w-[value]` property.


<div class="min-w-min bg-green-200">
  This div has a minimum width of content


Tailwind utilities can also be used to set the minimum width as the maximum content, i.e. the width of the longest line/sentence within the element using the `max-w-[value]` property.


<div class="min-w-max bg-green-200">
 This div has a maximum width of content


Tailwind utilities may also be used to set the `w-min-width` property. A min-width is applied using the `max-w-{size}` format. The value could be fixed or percentagebased.

Below is an example;

<div class="min-w-1/2 bg-green-200">
  This div has a minimum width of 50% of its container's width.


Tailwind utilities may also be used to set the `w-max-width` property. A min-width is applied using the `max-w-{size}` format.

Here’s an example:

<div class="max-w-lg bg-green-200 p-4">
  This div has a maximum width of "large"

Using Custom Width Values

Aside from the out-of-the-box utilities that Tailwind provides, it also provides the flexibility of setting the width of your element arbitrarily or using custom values either in your settings or on the fly.

Setting Arbitrary Values Using Tailwind CSS and Square Brackets Notation

In Tailwind CSS, you can use the square bracket syntax directly within utility classes like w-[px-width] to define custom pixel values for element widths. For example:

<div class="w-[200px]">
  This div has a custom width of 200 pixels.

Customising Your Width Spacing In Your “tailwind.config.js” File

The tailwind.config.js file is one way you can customize the Tailwind CSS framework. You can define your colours, fonts, spacing, and other settings in this file. By default, Tailwind’s width scale is a combination of the default spacing scale as well as some additional values specific to widths. You can customize your spacing scale by editing theme.spacing or theme.extend.spacing in your Tailwind config file. Numbers are used to define the width in terms of pixels. For example, the value 100 would set the width to 100 pixels.

  • Keywords are used to define the width in terms of relative units. The most common relative unit is rem.

Other relative units that you can use include vw (viewport width), vh (viewport height), em (element’s font size), and % (percentage of the parent element’s width).

Here is an example of how to define a custom width spacing in tailwind.config.js:

    width: {
      1: 1rem, // 1rem is equal to 16px
      2: 2rem,
      3: 3rem,
      4: 4rem,
      100: 100%, 
} },

This will define 6 widths: 1rem, 2rem, 3rem, 4rem, 100%, and 100vw. You can then use these widths in your CSS classes. For example, to set the width of an element to 2rem, you would use the class w-2.

Purecode.ai is another nifty tool that also gives you the ability to create thousands of AI-generated custom components using Tailwind CSS. Check it out here!

Advanced Techniques for Using Tailwind Width Utility

The basic usage of Tailwind Width Utility is straightforward, there are advanced techniques that can help developers create more complex and dynamic layouts. Here are some advanced techniques for using Tailwind Width Utility:

1. Using Width Utility with Flexbox and Grid

Tailwind Width Utility can be used in conjunction with Flexbox and Grid to create more complex and dynamic layouts. For example, developers can use the “flex-grow” and “flex-shrink” properties to create flexible and responsive layouts that adjust to different screen sizes. Similarly, Grid can be used to create complex and multi-column layouts that adapt to different screen sizes. Here’s an example:

<div class="flex">
  <div class="w-1/2 bg-red-300 p-4 flex-grow">Flex item 1</div>
  <div class="w-1/2 bg-green-300 p-4 flex-shrink">Flex item 2</div>

In this example, the first flex item has a width of 50% using the “w-1/2” class, and the “flex-grow” property is used to allow it to grow and fill the available space. The second flex item also has a width of 50% using the “w-1/2” class, but the “flex-shrink” property is used to allow it to shrink and fit into the available space.

2. Using Width Utility with JavaScript

Combining JavaScript with Tailwind CSS’s Width Utility offers web developers a potent toolkit for creating dynamic and user-friendly web applications. Dynamic width adjustments, responsive design enhancements, and smooth animations are among the benefits of this synergy. By mastering this powerful combination, developers can craft web applications that does not only look exceptional but offers a highly interactive and adaptable user experience.

In today’s ever-evolving digital landscape, responsive and dynamic interfaces are indispensable. JavaScript and Tailwind CSS complement each other seamlessly, enabling developers to create web applications that captivate users with both functionality and aesthetics. Whether building complex web applications or simple websites, harnessing the fusion of Tailwind CSS’s Width Utility and JavaScript can elevate projects and leave a lasting, positive impression on users. Embrace this dynamic duo, experiment, and unlock the full potential of web development in your endeavors.

Final Thoughts

In a nutshell, Tailwind CSS utilities offers a fast and responsive approach to managing element widths in web development. They simplify the process of creating adaptable layouts for various screen sizes, using intuitive classes like `w-screen` for viewport-based sizing or specifying custom dimensions with pixel values or percentages.

These width utilities are an essential tool in the Tailwind ecosystem, striking a balance between responsive design and speed of development, ensuring that web experiences are both beautiful and responsive across devices. Useful tools like PureCode.ai also provide even more flexibility when working with Tailwind CSS by incorporating artificial intelligence while building upon other component libraries such as Tailwind.

Phil Butler

Phil Butler