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Controlling content overflow

From: CSS: Page Layouts

Video: Controlling content overflow

We briefly came in contact with the overflow property during the chapter on floats. In this movie I want to discuss the overflow property in a little bit more detail and how it can help us when dealing with positioned elements. To do that, I have the overflow.htm file opened up and if I look through the code of this file, after a section where we talk about the overflow property a little bit, we have this section with a class name of container and it has a lot of text in it. If I preview this in a browser, you can see that right now the text is just forming the height of the section itself, so we don't have a defined height on this section. So because of that, the height is actually being determined by the content, so there really isn't any overflow going on at all.

Controlling content overflow

We briefly came in contact with the overflow property during the chapter on floats. In this movie I want to discuss the overflow property in a little bit more detail and how it can help us when dealing with positioned elements. To do that, I have the overflow.htm file opened up and if I look through the code of this file, after a section where we talk about the overflow property a little bit, we have this section with a class name of container and it has a lot of text in it. If I preview this in a browser, you can see that right now the text is just forming the height of the section itself, so we don't have a defined height on this section. So because of that, the height is actually being determined by the content, so there really isn't any overflow going on at all.

Now this is typical for your elements. If you don't declare a specific height, for example, the contents of the element forms the height. Now I want to go right back up here for just a minute and talk about the different values of the overflow property and what it can do for us. First off, we have to understand what it means for an element to be in overflow. If you have an element that you have a defined width and height on it and the content no longer fits within that element, it is considered to be overflow. Our properties here, visible, hidden, scroll, auto, and inherit, all describe what should happen to the content of an element where we have overflow.

Now visible basically says, okay, just display anyway. Even though it's going to overflow the content edge of the element, it doesn't matter; the content still needs to be visible. Hidden is going to basically clip the content so that any content that would normally overflow it is not visible. Scroll tells the browser to put scrollbars on the element, and that way if you do have overflow content, you can scroll through the content. It should be noted that scroll puts scrollbars on the content whether it needs it or not, which is where auto comes in.

Auto is your way of basically saying, hey, give me scrollbars if I need them. If I don't, then please don't. Then inherit obviously says whatever my parent element is doing. So let's go back to our code and trigger overflow so that we can see these properties in action. So I am going to go back into my code, I am going to scroll up to my styles, and where it says container here, I am going to add a height to this. And I am just going to give it a height of 300 pixels. Now that is not nearly tall enough to display this content. So if I save this, go back into the browser, and refresh the page, now if I scroll down into the content, you can see, the container no longer is able to contain all the content-- it's only 300 pixels tall--and the content is allowed to overflow outside the content width.

Okay, so you can see by looking at this that visible is the default for elements, so anytime overflow is triggered, if that property is not set explicitly, visible is considered to be the value. So if we go back into our code and we go to the styles of container, if I set overflow to visible and save it and refresh the page, we don't see any difference. Now on the other hand, if I change that value to hidden, save it, and refresh the page, you can see what happens to our overflow content.

It's trimmed off, and notice that the page is not even scrolling down that far anymore. That content is gone and will not affect content around it. Of course, the downside is you can't read that content anymore. Even if I go down and highlight and try to push it down, you can't see it. It's totally hidden. It's clipped off. Now if I go in and tell it to scroll, if I save that and preview, you can see that now over here on the right-hand side of this element, and this element only, I get scrollbars that allow me to scroll through the content.

This is one of the coolest things that we can do for positioned elements. Let's say, for example, that you have some type of a notice that you're going to need to position using absolute positioning and floating over other elements, or to the side. You may not be able to have a flexible height on that element. Perhaps you need it to be a specific size. But you're not 100% sure how much content is going to go inside of it. Well, now the overflow property allows me to go ahead and put scrollbars on the element if I need it, and that way the users can still read through all the content, even though it's restricted in size.

Now of course, there is a big difference between scroll and auto, and if I go back into the CSS, if I choose auto, notice that if I refreshed my page right now, we don't really see any change. We see a slight change, but really, scrollbars are still there. However, if I go and get rid of the height property, save that, and test it, notice that the scrollbars go away. They are no longer necessary, because the content is no longer overflowing. Of course, if you had scroll instead of auto, notice that you get the scrollbars, whether you need them or not.

So that sort of negatively impacts my element. So if you're not 100% certain whether you're going to need the scrollbars or not, then just go ahead and use auto. Just be aware of the fact that adding the scrollbars is going to impact the width of the element slightly, so if you are sort of planning for whether the scrollbars are going to be there or not, you need to account for them within your layout. So I think you can see pretty quickly here how handy the overflow property is when creating layouts, especially for positioned elements. In some layouts, position elements will be restricted to specific widths and heights, and by using the overflow property, you can control exactly how the browser displays any content that doesn't fit within those regions.

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This video is part of

Image for CSS: Page Layouts
CSS: Page Layouts

71 video lessons · 40583 viewers

James Williamson
Author

 
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  1. 4m 20s
    1. Welcome
      54s
    2. How to use the exercise files
      3m 26s
  2. 1h 39m
    1. Box model review
      8m 47s
    2. Calculating element dimensions
      11m 11s
    3. Understanding margin collapse
      7m 59s
    4. Calculating em values
      7m 41s
    5. Calculating percentage values
      7m 51s
    6. Normal document flow
      13m 3s
    7. Controlling element display
      8m 53s
    8. Using CSS Resets
      7m 11s
    9. Fixed, fluid, and responsive layouts
      9m 9s
    10. CSS debugging tools
      6m 46s
    11. Using the Firebug Inspector and the WebKit Web Inspector
      11m 5s
  3. 53m 15s
    1. Page design workflow
      3m 6s
    2. Page design tools
      4m 56s
    3. Determining page structure
      7m 18s
    4. Creating image assets
      8m 58s
    5. Creating initial page structure
      7m 3s
    6. Adding meaning with classes and IDs
      5m 23s
    7. Structuring content with HTML5
      6m 6s
    8. Building internal structure
      10m 25s
  4. 1h 36m
    1. Floating elements
      7m 50s
    2. Clearing floats
      7m 28s
    3. Containing floats
      7m 50s
    4. Clearfix technique
      10m 38s
    5. Floating inline elements
      14m 34s
    6. Two-column floated layouts
      8m 17s
    7. Three-column floated layouts
      11m 30s
    8. Column height considerations
      7m 3s
    9. Creating equal-height columns
      10m 42s
    10. Floats: Lab
      5m 25s
    11. Floats: Solution
      5m 21s
  5. 51m 42s
    1. Relative positioning
      7m 59s
    2. Absolute positioning
      8m 59s
    3. Fixed positioning
      4m 23s
    4. Controlling stacking order
      8m 31s
    5. Clipping content
      8m 21s
    6. Controlling content overflow
      5m 38s
    7. Positioning elements: Lab
      3m 59s
    8. Positioning elements: Solution
      3m 52s
  6. 48m 46s
    1. Design considerations for fixed layouts
      3m 28s
    2. Establishing the layout grid
      7m 57s
    3. Defining column spacing
      9m 30s
    4. Applying the grid through CSS
      8m 56s
    5. Creating grid-based assets
      8m 26s
    6. Grid design resources
      6m 22s
    7. Building fixed layouts: Lab
      4m 7s
  7. 44m 35s
    1. Designing for flexible layouts
      2m 30s
    2. Calculating percentage values
      8m 45s
    3. Setting flexible width values
      6m 6s
    4. Making images flexible
      8m 10s
    5. Setting minimum and maximum widths
      7m 24s
    6. Building flexible layouts: Lab
      4m 53s
    7. Building flexible layouts: Solution
      6m 47s
  8. 49m 36s
    1. Responsive layout overview
      3m 49s
    2. Using media queries
      7m 16s
    3. Organizing styles
      8m 39s
    4. Making content responsive
      8m 33s
    5. Mobile design considerations
      7m 32s
    6. Building responsive layouts: Lab
      4m 23s
    7. Building responsive layouts: Solution
      9m 24s
  9. 1h 22m
    1. Creating multi-column text
      6m 36s
    2. Using borders to enhance design
      13m 59s
    3. Rounding corners
      6m 56s
    4. Adding drop shadows
      10m 35s
    5. Working with opacity
      6m 8s
    6. Utilizing the background property
      15m 5s
    7. Working with CSS sprites
      7m 58s
    8. Enhancing page design: Lab
      6m 22s
    9. Enhancing page design: Solution
      8m 38s
  10. 6m 25s
    1. Additional resources
      6m 25s

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