Skip to main content
Home / CSS Almanac / Properties / G / gap

The gap property in CSS is a shorthand for row-gap and column-gap, specifying the size of gutters, which is the space between rows and columns within grid, flex, and multi-column layouts.

/* Grid layout */
.container {
  display: grid;
  grid-template-columns: repeat(3, 1fr);
  grid-template-rows: 1fr 2fr 1fr;
  gap: 30px 20px;
}

/* Flex layout */
.container {
  display: flex;
  gap: 10%;
}

/* Multi-column layout */
.container {
  column-count: 5;
  gap: 20px;
}
Diagram showing six boxes in two rows of three with gaps between them to illustrate the effect of the gap property.

Use the slider in the demo below to see the gap property in action:

Syntax

gap accepts one or two values:

  • A single value sets both row-gap and column-gap by the same value.
  • When two values are used, the first sets the row-gap and the second sets the column-gap.
.container {
  gap: 1rem;
  /* Is equivalent to:
  *  row-gap: 1rem;
  *  column-gap: 1rem
  */
  
  gap: 10px 15%;
  /* Is equivalent to:
  *  row-gap: 10px;
  *  column-gap: 15%;
  */
}

The specification for the CSS Grid Layout Module defined the space between grid tracks using the grid-gap property. gap is intended to replace it so that gaps can be defined in multiple CSS layout methods, like flexbox, but grid-gap still needs to be used in instances where a browser may have implemented grid-gap but has yet to start supporting the newer gap property.

Values

gap accepts the following values:

  • normal: (Default) The browser will specify a used value of 1em for multi-column layout and 0px for all other layout contexts (i.e. grid and flex).
  • <length>: Any valid and non-negative CSS length, such as px, em, rem and %, among others.
  • <percentage>: The size of the gap as a non-negative percentage value relative to the dimension of the element. (See below for details.)
  • initial: Applies the property’s default setting, which is normal.
  • inherit: Adopts the gap value of the parent.
  • unset: Removes the current gap from the element.

Percentages in gap properties

When the size of a container in the gap dimension is definite, gap resolves percentages against the size of the container’s content box in any layout types.

In other words, when the browser knows the size of the container, it can calculate the percentage value of the gap. For example, when the container’s height is 100px and the gap is set to 10%, browser knows that 10% of 100px is 10px.

But when the browser doesn’t know the size, it will wonder, “10% of what?” In these cases, gap behaves differently based on the layout type.

In a grid layout, percentages resolve against zero for determining intrinsic size contributions, but resolve against the element’s content box when laying out the box’s contents, meaning it will put space between items but the space doesn’t affect the container’s size.

In this demo, the container’s height is not definite. See what happens when you increase the gap size. Then set the gap in pixel units and try again:

In a flex layout, percentages resolve against zero in all cases, meaning that gaps will not apply when the size of the container is not known to the browser:

Using the calc() function with gap

You can use calc() function to specify the size of the gap but, at the time of this writing, there is no support for it on Safari and iOS.

.flex-layout {
  display: flex;
  gap: calc(5vh + 5px) calc(5vw + 5px);
}


.grid-layout {
  display: grid;
  grid-template-columns: repeat(3, 1fr);
  gap: calc(5vmin + 5px);
}

Examples

The gap property is designed for use in grid, flex and multi-column layouts. Let’s check out some examples.

Grid layout

In the following demo, you can see gap being used to specify the row-gap and column-gap properties on a grid container, defining the gutters between grid rows and grid columns, respectively:

Flex layout

Applying gap to the main axis of a flex container indicates spacing between flex items in a single line of the flex layout.

Here’s column-gap used in a row direction:

Here’s row-gap used in a column direction:

Applying gap to the cross axis of a flex container indicates spacing between flex lines of the flex layout.

Here’s row-gap in a row direction:

Here’s column-gap in a column direction:

Multi-column layout

column-gap appears in multi-column layouts to create gaps between column boxes, but note that row-gap has no effect since we’re only working in columns. gap can still be used in this context, but only the column-gap will be applied.

As you can see in the next demo, although the gap property has a value of 2rem, it’s only separating items horizontally instead of both directions since we’re working in columns:

The more you know…

There are a couple of things worth noting about working with the gap property.

It’s a nice way to prevent unwanted spacing

Have you ever used margins to create spacing between elements? If we’re not careful, we can end up with extra spacing before and after the group of items.

Solving that usually requires adding negative margins or resorting to pseudo-selectors to remove margin from specific items. But the nice thing about using gap in more modern layout methods is that you only have space between items. The extra cruft at the start and end is never an issue!

But, hey, if you want to have space around the items while using gap, put padding around the container like this:

.container {
  display: flex;
  gap: 1rem;
  padding: 1rem;
}

Gutter size is not always equal to the gap value

The gap property is not the only thing that can put space between items. Margins, paddings, justify-content and align-content can also increase the size of the gutter and affect the actual gap value.

In the following example, we’re setting a 1em gap but, as you can see, there is much more space between the items, caused by the use of distributed alignments, like justify-content and align-content:

Browser support

Feature queries are usually a nice way to check if a browser supports a specific property, but in this case, if you check for the gap property in flexbox, you may get a false positive because a feature query won’t distinguish between layout modes. In other words, it might be supported in a flex layout which results in a positive result, but it is actually not supported if it’s used in a grid layout.

Grid layout

IEEdgeFirefoxChromeSafariOpera
No16+61+66+12+53+
iOS SafariOpera MobileAndroid BrowserChrome for AndroidFirefox for Android
12+No81+84+68+

Grid layout with calc() values

IEEdgeFirefoxChromeSafariOpera
No84+79+84+No69+
iOS SafariOpera MobileAndroid BrowserChrome for AndroidFirefox for Android
NoNo81+84+68+

Grid layout with percentage value

IEEdgeFirefoxChromeSafariOpera
No84+79+84+No69+
iOS SafariOpera MobileAndroid BrowserChrome for AndroidFirefox for Android
NoNo81+84+68+

Flex layout

The specification for using gap with flexbox is currently in Working Draft status.

This browser support data is from Caniuse, which has more detail. A number indicates that browser supports the feature at that version and up.

Desktop

ChromeFirefoxIEEdgeSafari
8463No84No

Mobile / Tablet

Android ChromeAndroid FirefoxAndroidiOS Safari
8579NoNo

Multi-column layout

IEEdgeFirefoxChromeSafariOpera
No84+79+84+No69+
iOS SafariOpera MobileAndroid BrowserChrome for AndroidFirefox for Android
NoNo81+84+68+

More information

Related