TL;DR: The margin isn’t a margin—it’s a space. Try using display: block; float: left; instead.

ALSO: Checkout the amazing list of techniques to combat inline-block space-margins at CSS Tricks


I’ve made a weird discovery about using the inline-block display. I use inline-block elements on my homepage in the Recent Work section.

I noticed that the math for these block elements wasn’t quite adding up—the element width + padding + margin + border should’ve enabled three items on one line; however, the elements were wrapping.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:

Even though the margin of each element is set to zero there is seemingly, a margin, between each element.

This problem could be easily solved by removing the display property, floating each gallery item and using a clearfix on the parent:

That solution, however, ignores why that space is being added.

The inline-block display property treats block level elements (e.g. <div>) as an inline element (e.g. <span>), and, just like if you had a line break between two <span> elements, the line-break between the <div>s is creating a space between the <div>s. That extra margin is actually a space—not a margin.

Knowing what is creating an inline-block displayed <div>’s “margin” enables you to create a couple of different solutions.

  • First, the dumb and breakable solution, you could remove the spaces and line-breaks in your html
  • Second, directly address the space by setting a negative right margin or negative word-spacing for those elements
  • Or, Finally, just use display: block; float: left;

Here’s an example of what the second solution would look like: