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Tag Cloud with Varied Padding Thickness

Published by Chris Coyier

Often times "tag clouds" use variations in font-size and font-weight to distinguish between heavy use and light use tags. Here is another approach: use rollover boxes of different sizes through varied amounts of padding.


You can set the different sizes up as classes in the CSS like so:

ul {
	margin-top: 50px;
	list-style-type: none;

li {
	float: left;

ul li a {
	text-decoration: none;
	line-height: 2.3em;

ul li a.size1 {
	color: #666;
	padding: 2px;
	ul li a.size1:hover {
		background-color: #999;
		color: white;

ul li a.size2 {
	color: #912600;
	padding: 12px;
	ul li a.size2:hover {
		background-color: #cc3500;
		color: white;

ul li a.size3 {
	color: #877900;
	padding: 18px;
	ul li a.size3:hover {
		background-color: #d8c100;
		color: white;
ul li a.size4 {
	color: #1d6c01;
	padding: 8px;
	ul li a.size4:hover {
		background-color: #2daf00;
		color: white;
ul li a.size5 {
	color: #004e6b;
	padding: 6px;
	ul li a.size5:hover {
		background-color: #007ead;
		color: white;
ul li a.size6 {
	color: #430069;
	padding: 24px;
	ul li a.size6:hover {
		background-color: #7600b9;
		color: white;

Then just apply the classes to the anchor element in the unordered list like so:

	<li><a class="size1" href=#">adobe</a></li>
	<li><a class="size2" href=#">animation</a></li>
	<li><a class="size3" href=#">arts</a></li>
	<li><a class="size4" href=#">bizarre</a></li>
	<li><a class="size5" href=#">blogs</a></li>
	<li><a class="size6" href=#">books</a></li>



  1. Not a bad idea, I personally do not like tag clouds however.

    I noticed with your live example that if you scroll over “mac os” and go to “multimedia”, it can be a bit touchy as “web design” below it is a bigger cloud and quite a few times I accidently got “web design” instead of “multimedia”.

  2. The idea actually came from another blog of mine,, where I used a similar technique for the archives. It may be a bit more successful over there.

  3. Permalink to comment#

    Just what I was looking for. Great stuff :) And a very nice site you have here, just found out about it.


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