How to Center a DIV Block Using CSS

Standard Trick to Centering a Block of Text/Images Using Cascading Style Sheets

How to Centre a DIV Block Using CSS

by Christopher Heng,

This article shows you how to centre (or "center" if you use a different variant of English) a DIV block, whether it contains text, graphics, or a mixture of both, using standards-compliant Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). The technique is useful not just for creating pleasing designs, but also for times when you want to create a fixed width single column layout with the main content placed in the centre of the page, and not flushed to one side.


I will assume in this article that you have some basic knowledge of how to write HTML and CSS, and at the very least, know how to insert CSS code.

If you don't even have a website yet, and have arrived at this article looking for tips on designing one, please start with my article on How to Start/Create Your Own Website instead.

Steps to Centering a DIV Block without Centering the Text Inside

Let's assume that you have a div block written as follows:

<div id="content">
This is a block that is to be centred. I don't want the text to be centred, though, just the block.

At first glance, you may think that the following CSS rule will work.

text-align: center ;

However, the rule centres the text inside the box, rather than the block itself. While there are times when you may want to do this, our intention here is to centre the entire block but leave the internal contents formatted as it was before. As such, the above code is not what we want.

Instead, the standard trick for centring ("centering") a block in CSS is to do the following:

  1. Specify a width for the DIV block.
  2. Set both its left and right margins to auto.

Both steps are necessary. You cannot just set the margins to auto without specifying the width of the block and expect this method to work.

For example, if you want your div block to have a width of 200 pixels, the following code will centre the block.

#content {
  width: 200px ;
  margin-left: auto ;
  margin-right: auto ;

The technique works because when both margins are set to auto, web browsers are required by the CSS standard to give them equal width. This is why you also have to specify the width of the DIV block, since browsers will otherwise set it to 100% of the available space. If all the space is occupied by the block, there's no need to centre it. Centring is only relevant if an object is smaller than the space around it.

Incidentally, the width doesn't need to be in pixels. Other units like em or percentage will work just as well. In addition, the technique also works on other block elements like <p>.


This is a block that is to be centred. I don't want the text to be centred, though, just the block.

Since the block is so small and shifted to the centre, I have added some colour to highlight it. I have also deliberately made it only 200 pixels wide, so that the effect will still be visible if you are viewing this on a mobile phone.

Browser Support

The code above has been tested with IE 6 to 11, Firefox, Chrome, Edge, Vivaldi, Opera and Safari. It should work in all later browsers as well, since the newer ones tend to be standards-compliant.


The method above is the standard technique for centring a DIV block using standards-compliant CSS. And the code even works in obsolete browsers like IE 6 and 7.

This article can be found at

Copyright © 2008-2024 by Christopher Heng. All rights reserved.
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