Noupe Editorial Team June 15th, 2008

Using CSS to Fix Anything: 20+ Common Bugs and Fixes

Without a doubt, a logical and structured layout is the best way to go. Not only because your layout varies between browsers, but also because CSS has a lot of ways to position every element you have. Today we wanted to share with you some quick tips on how to avoid easy pitfalls when creating your CSS layout. This is the first part in this series as there are SO MANY good tricks out there and if you see an easier or better methods, then post a comment below or email me. I will do my best to include it in our next post in this series.
You might be interested to check our other related post for some inspiration:

IE Bug Fixes

1- Bug Fix: IE Double Margin Float Bug- It’s an Internet Explorer-exclusive bug wherein an element that is floated – and given a margin in the same direction as the float – ends up with twice the specified margin size. The fix is extremely simple. All you have to do is apply a display: inline rule to your floated element. So you simply go from something like this:
#content {
    float: left;
    width: 500px;
    padding: 10px 15px;
    margin-left: 20px; }
To something like this:
#content {
    float: left;
    width: 500px;
    padding: 10px 15px;
    margin-left: 20px; 

2-Overcoming the Box Model Hack- If you want to specify a width to any div, do NOT specify padding or margins. Just create an inner div with no width set and specify its padding and margins instead. So instead of doing this:
width: 150px;
border: 5px;
padding: 20px;
Do something like this:
width: 150px;
#main-div div{
border: 5px;
padding: 20px;

3-Min-height attribute ignored in IE- "min-height" attribute works well in Firefox but IE ignores it. IE's height act as FF's min-height. Note: in IE 7 problem was fixed.
/* for understanding browsers */
.container {
border:1px solid #000;
/* for Internet Explorer */
* html .container {
height: 8em;
4- Min-Width for IE -A fix for the lack of min-width in Internet Explorer.

Centering a Block Element

5-Centering Block Element- There are multiple techniques for centering a block element; and the choice for the technique depends on whether you have the size set in percentages or in more absolute values. Centering an entire page's contents:
text-align: center;
text-align: left;
width: 960px;
margin: 0 auto;

6-Vertical Align with CSS- If you want to know how you can achieve vertical-align functionality the right way, simply specify the line-height for your text the same height as that of the container’s.
#wrapper {
	background:url(container.gif) no-repeat left top;
	padding:0px 10px;
#wrapper p {

Column Issues

7- Top reasons your CSS columns are messed up- An easy-to understand article on how to fix common CSS Column issues with helpful diagrams and code snippets.

8- The Expanding Box Bug-When you try to create a two-column float layout, IE will create a "float drop", and it's caused by having over-sized content in a fixed-width floated div that must fit into a particular spot in the layout. Several possible workarounds are detailed in this post.

CSS Positioning

9- Understanding CSS Positioning part 1- An interesting series of articles that doesn’t only cover positioning, but also properties that define layout such as display and float, and a preview of the new CSS3 layout modules. The first part will introduce the positioning and display property. Part1, Part2, Part3 gives you a deep understanding of the possibilities you have in positioning.

10- What is the difference between relative and absolute positioning?- Whether to use relative or absolute positioning can be extremely frustrating to people just getting started with CSS. The answer to this question will add a bit of clarity to this confusion.
position: relative;
bottom: 40px;
right: 40px;

11-HangTab- Create a Sticky Tag from the Edge of the Browser Window (Even with Centered Content). Check out Panic’s website for their software Coda.
#hang_tab {
position: absolute;
top: 7px;
left: 0px;
width: 157px;
height: 93px;

CSS Float Concept

12- CSS Float Theory: Things You Should Know- SmashingMagazine browsed through dozens of related articles and selected the most important things you should keep in mind developing css-based layouts with floats.
<div> <!-- float container -->
<div style="float:left; width:30%;"><p>Some content</p></div>
<p>Text not inside the float</p>
<div style="clear:both;"></div>

13- Floatutorial: Simple tutorials on CSS Floats- Floatutorial takes you through the basics of floating elements such as images, drop caps, next and back buttons, image galleries, inline lists and multi-column layouts.

14- Clear Your Floats - The Right Way- Float clearing can be one of the most frustrating aspects of CSS development, one of the best ways is to use the EasyClearing on your site.
/* EasyClearing */
	content: ".";
	display: block;
	height: 0;
	clear: both;
	visibility: hidden;

{display: inline-block;}

/* Hides from IE-mac */
* html #container
{height: 1%;}

{display: block;}
/* End hide from IE-mac */

Easier Rounded Corner Solutions

15- Mike asks the CSS Guy for recommendations on rounded corners- “Simplest way is to use a giant gif, then I'll markup my box”
<div class="roundBox">
  <p>beautifully-encapsulated paragraph</p>
  <div class="boxBottom"></div>
“And give it the background”
.roundBox {
  background:transparent url(roundBox.gif) no-repeat top left;
.roundBox .boxBottom {
  background:white url(roundBox.gif) no-repeat bottom left;
  margin:0 -20px -20px -20px;

Also Askthecssguy explains the technique used in Google Analytics, which works by leaving a 1px notch in every corner to get the rounded corner effect which is a new way of creating rounded corners without using static images.

16-3 Simple Steps in Coding a Rounded Corners Layout- Alen Grakalic's approach to coding a fixed width, rounded corners layout in 3 simple steps. He also created a demo here.

CSS Form Issues

17- Tips For Creating Great Web Forms- Cris Coyer shares with us some tips for floating labels, :focus Pseudo Class, using hints and more. He also created the Nice & Simple Contact Form, which he first posted about here.
label {
	float: left;
	text-align: right;
	margin-right: 15px;
	width: 100px;

18- Clean and pure CSS FORM design- For CSS lovers, this tutorial illustrates a proposal about how to design a pure CSS form without using html tables. You can grab the code here.

19-Autopopulating text input fields with JavaScript- Sometimes we need to explain to users what they are supposed to enter into text input fields. One common workaround when no label can be displayed is to put some placeholder text in the text field and let that act as the label. This tutorial introduces a nice solution, with JavaScript enabled, the label element is hidden and the value of the input element’s title attribute is copied to the value attribute. If JavaScript is disabled, the label is displayed above the text input, which is left empty.

Worth checking CSS Tricks

20- Cross browser Horizontal Rule with Background Image- You'd like to create a cross-browser horizontal rule that utilizes a custom image as the content separator. {
background: #fff url(myhrimg.gif) no-repeat scroll center; 
height: 10px
} hr {
display: none

Your tag should look like this:
<div class="hr"><hr /></div>

Noupe Editorial Team

The jungle is alive: Be it a collaboration between two or more authors or an article by an author not contributing regularly. In these cases you find the Noupe Editorial Team as the ones who made it. Guest authors get their own little bio boxes below the article, so watch out for these.


  1. Excellent article, but some of the links are incorrect, and the first example does not show the fix. Nevertheless, this will make a great cheat-sheet for my CSS-challenged coworkers :)

  2. Well yes the first example which i think is the most important one here dosnt show the fix. Any how good finds there.

  3. I was familiar with the above examples except “Easier Rounded Corner Solutions”, “Worth checking CSS Tricks”, and “CSS positioning” also took quite a lot of time. This article did help to sort out quite a lot of things and will help me to work efficiently.

    Thanks mate.

  4. Fix for the first example:

    #content {
    float: left;
    width: 500px;
    padding: 10px 15px;
    margin-left: 20px;
    display: inline; }

  5. Oops, i totally forgot to add the display:inline; in the first example. Thanks for pointing this out, i am sure it was due to lack of coffee ;)

  6. Hi

    I have a cross browser problem. thing is I have created a login page with using css style sheet which is created as seperate css style doc. and linked with the main login page. there are tables created in login page using table tag. And now the problem is that the login page displays in IE in centre of page but in fire fox it dispays left of the page I dont know why.

    could you please guide me on this.


  7. @Rajnish Singh, Please provide a link to the login page so we could have a look at the code.

    @Darren Yin, in the “after” code of the first example, we added the display:inline rule to make it work in IE

  8. Some quick tips for common CSS issues and how to avoid easy pitfalls during your CSS coding process.

  9. IE6 is nightmare for all new web designers but after sometime they learn how to deal with it.

    —–one from me :D——

    IE6 assign 12px height to all div tags by default. It cannot be fixed by adding height:5px; etc. to fix it, add






    —- Another tip —–

    display:table-cell; has ever been very helpful to me. I will allow you to make divs behave like tables, that will help you fix many problems. Make sure to add width attribute also cause you div will not use block width 100%

  10. Excellent article! I have sent this link to quite a few people because these are things people always ask me.

  11. Great list once again. I was hoping to find an easy/easier hack to make dotted borders in IE6 like those in Firefox? I’m sure I speak for everyone who has wished IE6 simply rendered ‘dots’ instead of dashes.

  12. Good articles, but the horizontal rule one makes no sense wrapping an hr element into a div then styled it with css. What’s the point? Might as well put just a div there with a class and forget the hr element and styled it.

  13. Laying things out was a lot easier with tables and spacer gifs. But try saying that to an HTML developer today and you’ll be burned at the stake for heresy. Laying things out with DIVs is a fad.

  14. @ Crankyman
    DIVs is not a fad, layouts with DIVs is easier for search engines to read. Your site will be index faster and cleaner than a table layout.

    Tables layouts might be easier, but if you are using table layouts why even bother with CSS? You are writing dinosaur code anyways.

  15. Hey everyone,

    Thank you for the comments! I’d like to address some of them:

    @sakib, Thanks for pointing this out. The CSS display:table-cell is to mimic the display properties of a table cell, but without actually having the table semantics at the markup level.
    For better understanding of the display rule, please check this post.

    @Bankai, the HR tip was to use an image as an HR while preserving the web page backward compatibility and better phone browsing. I think it is a smart tip, as you might use them as a separators.

    @Jon Aizlewood, dotted borders in IE6 is one of the many issues we have to deal with. Personally i create a nice dotted borders for Internet Explorer using a repeating background graphic. A good example can be found here:
    If anyone has a better solution, let me know about it.

    Thank you all for your participation!

  16. here’s a tip for IE6 and doing css rollovers:

    aside from assigning the anchor’s containing element withe the same background image, apply overflow: hidden style to prevent text wrapping. by doing so, this avoids the “shadow” effect of seeing the rollover state.

  17. Nice list! I learned some great stuff from your post. Can’t wait to try out the 1 px notch for rounded edges!

  18. is there any mention of conditional comments? It’s much better to place “hacks” in browser-specific style sheets targeted by conditional comments.. that way, good browsers don’t have to read hacky css.

  19. this is complicate…

    The easyest way is to go on, make a project where you fill all your css problems, put a maximum price of 5$ and then wayt. You will see at less 10 indians who will offer to do your job for free!!!

    In the mean while, you drink a beer.

  20. Point 14 about clearing floats can be done quite easily with the following code

    Prefer this:
    .clearer {

  21. I disagree with #8, using those methods is hacky and unnecessary. If you simply create a container div around the elements above the footer, then by setting an overflow:hidden to the container you can achieve a flowing design that matches with the floating content.

    Something like this (obviously in an external stylesheet):



  22. I apologize for the double post. see above post for reasoning

    #site_container { width: 950px; }
    #site_container #content_container { overflow: hidden; }
    #site_container #content_container #left { float: left; width: 250px; }
    #site_container #content_container #right { float: left; width: 700px; }
    #site_container #footer { width: 950px; } (if you feel this is necessary)

  23. the only issue with Thierry Schellenbach suggestion is that unnecessary markup is added to the dom. rather than putting all the hacky markup in the css, they can be put into their own IE specific stylesheets which then can be added with IE conditionals.

  24. This article was very helpful. I was having a bunch of problems with IE and this helps me fix a lot of them.

  25. Some great points and I particularly found #15 for getting rounded corners of interest. I wonder if IE8 will smarten itself up?

  26. Excellent article! I have sent this link to quite a few people because these are things people always ask me.

  27. #1 is retarded why should i make a block element inline just to make IE happy, seriously M$ got this one wrong, wtf

  28. Fantastic list. Thanks for the great, useful resource. I regularly peruse this web-site on a daily basis, lot’s of handy resources.

  29. Centering a Block Element

    Hi, i’m from brazil and i dont speak (write) english very well (sorry). But to align the div #content this way is better:

    #content {
    /*the values is a example you can change it!*/

    width: 900px;
    position: absolute;
    left: 50%;
    margin-left: – 450px; /*half of the width*/


    to center the content in extreme middle of page use:

    #content {
    /*the values is a example you can change it!*/

    width: 900px;
    height: 600px;
    position: absolute;
    left: 50%;
    margin-left: – 450px; /*half of the width*/
    margin-top: – 300px; /*half of the height*/


    Sorry for the poor english…



  30. it is really hard to write valid html and css so i always use a validator like – although i really often have problems in using divs next to each other because i don’t know the real alignment. thank you for the links i will take a look at it to improve my css skills.

  31. Good articles, but the horizontal rule one makes no sense wrapping an hr element into a div then styled it with css. What’s the point? Might as well put just a div there with a class and forget the hr element and styled it.

  32. Excellent resources here; thank you!!

    I’m having a CSS problem and maybe I’ll find the fix here on this site…but, I’m having an issue with browser resize and CSS positioning. I’ve got a BG image that is fixed to the top right of the browser window, but when I resize the browser window, the image moves. I tried putting this BG image within another div container elment, and that did not resolve the issue. If anyone has any thoughts, I’m open ears!


  33. Seriously! Photograph researching search engines for hours for this and i also last but not least found it listed here!

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