Float in CSS


float is mainly used to create a column layout without the use of tables. A column layout can be easily created by using float properties without needing to use CSS positions at all. Like this -

image of column layout

Apart from that one of the most common uses for the float property is to float an image with text wrapping it. Like this -

image of text wrapping


The purpose of the CSS float property is, to push a block-level element to the left or right,taking it out of the flow in relation to other block elements. This allows naturally flowing content to wrap around the floated element.

The floated element is removed from the normal flow of the page, though remaining a part of the flow.

1. Text wrapping

Wrapping para around an image

In this example, as you can see I have applied float: left on the img tag and the image is then moved to the left(out of the normal flow) and the content of the p tag behaves as if nothing has happened is part of the page flow.

Edit and comment the float:left and see the result

2. Page layout

In this example, I tried to create a simple column layout using flow properties only.

Here, I have applied float: left to the sidebar and float: right to content and also gave width to them. If the width is not given then they will get placed on top of each other.

A floated element should have an explicitly set width to ensure that it behaves as expected

Here, you might have noticed that I have also provided clear: both to the footer.

clear: both

The clear: both, is a CSS hack that solves a persistent bug that occurs when two floated elements are stacked next to each other. When elements are aligned this way, the parent container ends up with a height of 0(zero), and it can easily break the layout resulting in two elements that overlap and collapse on each other. To complicate things further, the bug is inconsistent across browsers. The clearfix was invented to solve all that.

If the element can fit horizontally in the space next to another element that is floated, it will fit unless we explicitly apply clear property.

In the above example, if you try to remove clear: both from the footer then the footer will get placed itself into space next to the floated element.


The clear property specifies on which sides of an element floating elements are not allowed to float.

clear can have following values:

  • left: elements are not allowed to Float on the left side in relation to other element.
  • right: elements are not allowed to Float on the right side in relation to other element.
  • both: elements are not allowed to Float on the either side in relation to other element.
  • initial


float can have 4 valid values:

  • left
  • right
  • none
  • inherit

The most commonly-used values are left and right. A value of none is the default.