Complete Overview of Centering in Flexbox CSS (Examples)

Complete Overview of Centering in Flexbox CSS (Examples)

Justify-content vs align-items vs align-content

Wesley (ByteGrad)'s photo
Wesley (ByteGrad)
·Nov 10, 2021·

2 min read

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You need to master both Flexbox and CSS Grid in order to professionally build modern websites & web apps. If you haven't mastered both of them yet, I highly recommend going through my CSS Course.

For centering with Flexbox, it's crucial to understand that Flexbox works with 1 direction: either horizontal (row) or vertical (column). The default flex-direction value is row (horizontal).

Given the default situation, we can center flex-items horizontally with justify-content:

CSS-Flexbox-Centering-Horizontally.png

And we can center flex-items vertically with align-items:

CSS-Flexbox-Centering-Horizontally-And-Vertically.png

If we have a lot of flex-items or flex-items that are big such that we want them them to wrap with flex-wrap: wrap, then we should use align-content to center them vertically:

CSS-Flexbox-Centering-Horizontally-And-Vertically-Align-Content.png

So: when flex-direction: row (the default), use justify-content for horizontal centering and align-items (for 1 row) or align-content (for multiple rows) for vertical centering.

Sometimes you need to change the flex-direction to column. Justify-content and align-items/align-content 'flip' in that case.

That means that now if you want to center the flex-items horizontally, you should use align-items:

CSS-Flexbox-Centering-Horizontally-When-Flex-Direction-Is-Column.png

Or if you have a lot of flex-items so that they wrap, use align-content:

CSS-Flexbox-Centering-Horizontally-When-Flex-Direction-Is-Column-Align-Content (1).png

To also center the flex-items vertically now, we should use justify-content:

CSS-Flexbox-Centering-Vertically-When-Flex-Direction-Is-Column-Justify-Content (2).png

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