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Why is it so complicated to position text with CSS


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I wanted to make a basic example website to use while following the HTML tutorial, so I started out with a background color and a header block of 200px high and 800px wide. I put some text in the header which I wanted to center horizontally and vertically. Horizontally is easy enough, but when I googled how to do it vertically I only found complicated answers. Then I thought maybe I'd position the text elsewhere, like in the bottom left of the header. Turns out that's even more complicated.


Why is this such a pain? Why can't it be as simple as one line of CSS?

Edited by JustRob
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The reason it is complicated to position text using CSS is because there is a range of browsers and screen resolutions which the code may be rendered on. So the code must be written in such a way as to address all of these possibilities. In your example, centering a block vertically can only be done when you have a fixed screen height of some known value. But since one can generally scroll down a page as long as there is something to display, there is no known bottom. What I would do is provide a margin-top:20px; attribute to your body tag, or, if your text is contained in a DIV tag, provide that div tag with a margin-top value.

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There are ways to vertically center elements, but the right solution depends on the case.


In the case of your header, if you set the line-height to 200px the text will be centered, however, if the text wraps it will be outside of the box.


If you need wrapping text, wrap it inside an inline-block and set the line-height of that block to "normal"

<header class="main">
  <h1>Vertically Centered <br> Wrapping Text </h1>

.main {
  width: 800px;
  height: 200px;
  line-height: 200px;
  text-align: center;

.main h1 {
  display: inline-block;
  vertical-align: center;
line-height: normal;
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