DIV Tags: Basic Styling and Usage

Over the years there have been many forms of Web Design that have since become “old school”, irrelevant or simply out-dated. Often, they are replaced with far better methods that provide faster loading, better SEO and improved styling, such as the replacement of <b> with <strong> and <i> with <em>.

Another such feature are Tables <table>. While still heavily used by some people, they are slowly being used less and less across the Internet, and are being replaced by the Division or DIV tag <div>. Simply put, DIV allows you specify divisions within your document, much like a table would do with rows, columns and cells.

I’ve found the most common reason people don’t use DIVs is because they don’t understand how. I hope to shed a little light on DIVs in this article and show you how to add them to your site, style them as necessary and make them look great.

Basic Usage

As with every tag in HTML, DIV tags have both an open and close tags that wrap around the specific content.

<div>Content inside the DIV tag</div>

Any content you add within your DIV tags will be controlled by any styling you specify in your DIV (see below).

Styling a DIV can be done 3 ways:

  1. Use of an external CSS file
  2. Adding CSS styling to the header of the webpage
  3. Adding CSS styling directly to the DIV

In this example we are going to focus only on #3; adding CSS directly to the DIV tag.

There are many styling options you can use with tags. In the following examples we are going to focus only on a few of them, which include: width, border, background, padding, float and margin.

Styling

To style a DIV tag, you need to add the styling commands to the opening DIV tag. This is done as follows:

<div style=” “>
</div>

The style commands go within the ” ” section. If you wanted your DIV to be 75% wide, with a black border you would use something like this:

<div style=”width: 75%; border: 1px solid #000000;”>
DIV Content
</div>

Notice that after each style command you need a semicolon “;” and the styling is wrapped within the ” “. Your width can be fixed (ie. 500px) or fluid (ie. 50%). This DIV would look like this:

DIV Content

As you can see, this looks very basic. Now we’re going to add some padding between the text and the border, make the background of the DIV grey and center the entire DIV on the screen.

<div style=”width: 75%; border: 1px solid #000000; padding: 10px; background: #cccccc; margin: 0 auto;”>
DIV Content
You can add any HTML / PHP as required within here
</div>

By adding this extra styling we now have a DIV that looks like this:

DIV Content
You can add any HTML / PHP as required within here

It’s important to know that in order to center the DIV, you need to use the “margin: 0 auto” tag. This tells the DIV that the top and bottom margins are 0 and the left and right are auto, which in industry-standard browsers will cause the DIV to be centered on the screen. In Internet Explorer, this margin style may not work however. This is due to Microsoft not following industry standard styling with the Internet Explorer browser. I believe if you want a browser that displays pages correctly, you should be using Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Opera.

You can also add DIVs inside DIVs. What we’re going to do now is add a new box inside the current one that is aligned to the right. This will have a white background and a dashed border. To do this, we need to add a second section of DIV tags, styled to our needs. We will remove the margin tag from the new DIV and replace it with “float: right;” which will align the DIV to the right side of the current DIV.

<div style=”width: 75%; border: 1px solid #000000; padding: 10px; background: #cccccc; margin: 0 auto;”>
<div style=”width: 25%; border: 1px dashed #000000; padding: 5px; background: #ffffff; float: right;”>
Floating Right DIV
</div>
DIV Content
You can add any HTML / PHP as required within here</div>

This would result in this:

Floating Right DIV

DIV Content
You can add any HTML / PHP as required within here

There you have it, basic DIV styling using CSS.

Tomorrow I will post part 2 of this series which covers how to build a website template using the methods mentioned here.

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