Skip to navigation

Margins and Padding

margin and padding are the two most commonly used properties for spacing-out elements. A margin is the space outside something, whereas padding is the space inside something.

Change the CSS code for h2 to the following:

h2 {
    font-size: 1.5em;
    background-color: #ccc;
    margin: 20px;
    padding: 40px;

This leaves a 20-pixel width space around the secondary header and the header itself is fat from the 40-pixel width padding.

The four sides of an element can also be set individually. margin-top, margin-right, margin-bottom, margin-left, padding-top, padding-right, padding-bottom and padding-left are the self-explanatory properties you can use.

The Box Model

Margins, padding and borders (see next page) are all part of what’s known as the Box Model. The Box Model works like this: in the middle you have the content area (let’s say an image), surrounding that you have the padding, surrounding that you have the border and surrounding that you have the margin. It can be visually represented like this:

Margin box
Border box
Padding box
Element box

You don’t have to use all of these, but it can be helpful to remember that the box model can be applied to every element on the page, and that’s a powerful thing!