What is floating? Describe the property and provide examples.

TL;DR: Floating an element moves it to the left or right and allows the following text to wrap around it.

Float is a CSS positioning property. To understand its purpose and origin, we can look to print design. In a print layout, images may be set into the page such that text wraps around them as needed. This is commonly and appropriately called “text wrap”. Here is an example of that.


In page layout programs, the boxes that hold the text can be told to honor the text wrap, or to ignore it. Ignoring the text wrap will allow the words to flow right over the image like it wasn’t even there. This is the difference between that image being part of the flow of the page (or not). Web design is very similar.


The float CSS property places an element on the left or right side of its container, allowing text and inline elements to wrap around it. The element is removed from the normal flow of the page, though still remaining a part of the flow (in contrast to absolute positioning).

/* Keyword values */
float: left;
float: right;
float: none;
float: inline-start;
float: inline-end;

/* Global values */
float: inherit;
float: initial;
float: unset;

It is necessary to specify a width for floated text elements (whether they are block or inline elements). Also, floated inline elements behave as block elements (top and bottom margins will be present). Finally, margins on floated elements do not collapse.