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The flex-direction property is a sub-property of the Flexible Box Layout module.

It establishes the main-axis, thus defining the direction flex items are placed in the flex container.

Reminder: the main axis of a flex container is the primary axis along which flex items are laid out. Beware, it is not necessarily horizontal; it depends on the flex-direction property.

The flex-direction property accepts 4 different values:

  • row (default): same as text direction
  • row-reverse: opposite to text direction
  • column: same as row but top to bottom
  • column-reverse: same as row-reverse top to bottom

Note that row and row-reverse are affected by the directionality of the flex container. If its text direction is ltr, row represents the horizontal axis oriented from left to right, and row-reverse from right to left; if the direction is rtl, it’s the opposite.


flex-direction: row | row-reverse | column | column-reverse

.flex-container {
  flex-direction: row;


In the following demo:

  • Red list is set to row
  • Yellow list is set to row-reverse
  • Blue list is set to column
  • Green list is set to column-reverse

Note: The text direction hasn’t been edited.

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So basically, you will use row in most cases, or column under certain circumstancies. Otherwise, it is pretty uncommon to reverse direction order.

Related Properties

Other Resources

Browser Support

  • (modern) means the recent syntax from the specification (e.g. display: flex;)
  • (hybrid) means an odd unofficial syntax from 2011 (e.g. display: flexbox;)
  • (old) means the old syntax from 2009 (e.g. display: box;)
Chrome Safari Firefox Opera IE Android iOS
21+ (modern)
20- (old)
3.1+ (old) 2-21 (old)
22+ (new)
12.1+ (modern) 10+ (hybrid) 2.1+ (old) 3.2+ (old)

Blackberry browser 10+ supports the new syntax.

For more informations about how to mix syntaxes in order to get the best browser support, please refer to this article (CSS-Tricks) or this article (DevOpera).