Relative Positioning Leaves Blank or White Space on Webpage - CSS DIV Position

If You Want Your DIV Content To Layer Correctly, Relative to Its Coded Position, You Need A Different Approach

So, you create a DIV tag to wrap some content, and you use CSS, applied to the DIV tag, to make the content's position Relative, in the mistaken belief that:

  • your content will simply move over to where you want it to be;
  • other elements on the web page will fill the space where it would have been if you had not moved it over;


  • the content moves over;
  • AND a big blank space is ALSO left where the content would have been if you had not moved it!

Perhaps you have already tried using Absolute positioning, but found that:

  • this only places the content relative to the full browser window, and not relative to your content, creating havoc with the placement of your content when it is displayed in differently sized browser windows.

These are common problems.

The Relative positioning problem is inherent to the standard for displaying content using relative positioning. Believe it or not, despite many people having a very different "intuitive" grasp of how it should work, display of content using relative positioning is SUPPOSED to leave that frustrating block of space behind.

The Absolute positioning problem is a matter of scope ... you need a way to specify that you want your content placed relative to other content, not to the browser window.

Fortunately, there are solutions to these problems!

How to Get Content to Layer Properly Over Top of Other Content Using DIVs, CSS and HTML

I am creating this page because I had the exact same problems.

  • If I used Absolute positioning, my content (a logo) would float relative to the top left corner of the browser ... but my main content was centered in the browser, and depending on the size of the browser window, the logo would be too far to the left or right.
  • If I used Relative positioning, the logo would float relative to its original position, but it would ALSO leave behind a logo-sized blank space right where it would have been if I had not moved it.

So, how did I get the logo to behave? After a little (ok, a lot) of research into the matter, I finally discovered this solution:

  • Give the DIV containing the content you wish to layer (in my case the logo) the property of position: absolute; and give it the desired offsets, such as top: 150px; left: 200px;
  • Wrap the above DIV in an additional DIV, and give the outer DIV the property of position: relative;
  • Do NOT (unless you need to for some other reason) offset the position of the outer DIV. The idea is that you need to nest an Absolute positioned DIV in this Relative positioned DIV;
  • Now the content you wish to layer will have an Absolute position relative to the outer DIV, not relative to your browser window.

This Is the HTML in Your Web Page

<div id="logo-wrapper">
	<div id="logo">
	<img src="logo.gif">

This Is the CSS for Your DIV Tags

#logo-wrapper {
	position: relative;

#logo {
	position: absolute;
	top: 175px;
	left: 84px;

CSS Notes

  • Using the # sign in front of a CSS identifier applies the settings to all elements with that name. Thus the settings for the class #logo-wrapper apply to all DIV (and other) elements with the parameter id="logo-wrapper".

More by this Author

Comments - Let Me Know if You Need More Help With This! 54 comments

itsjareds 7 years ago

Thanks! I will try this when I have time.


Francis 7 years ago

Excellent help

Tom 7 years ago

Awesome, just what I was looking for!

Much appreciated!

Pete 7 years ago

Jason, you are the man!

This is a "show printable view" type application. I have to position dynamic text over two form images where the 2nd form image can be multiple "continuation" pages (the form is just too complicated to replicate using tables in the time I have available). I'm using @media because this has to be viewable and printable with accuracy. Relative positioning was killing me on having an unknown number of continuation pages. Now, I can use absolute positioning again and each physical page is "relative" for screen and "page-break-before:always" for print. This approach will save me so much time by letting me use identical CSS positioning for the continuation pages with the exception of a constant offset for the screen vertical positioning.

Thanks again for sharing your solution and to Google for helping me find it!

Jason Seale profile image

Jason Seale 7 years ago from Stratford, Ontario, Canada Author

Pete: It is for hard working people like you that I made this page. I had my own, similar, trouble ... found a solution (very hard for me to find) and wanted to share the joy and leave a solid record for my future self to refer to.

Rafs 7 years ago

Jason, thanks so much for sharing this article. It took me a lot of research until I reached your site. Your solution is just fantastically simple and smart. Thank you so much for sharing this, you saved me more hours of unsuccessful research.

Ben 7 years ago

Superb! this article helped me right out.


Alisa 6 years ago

Hmmmm, for some reason it is doing the same thing as it was before, reserving all the white space. If I take everything out of the encasing div, the div appears over the text on the page...



#homebotpicouter {

position: relative;

height: 250px;

width: 250px;

float: right;


#homeboy {

background-image: url(images/ist2_6253225-young-explorer.png);

background-repeat: no-repeat;

position: absolute;

left: 80px;

height: 251px;

width: 251px;


Phil 6 years ago

This was a great help, thank you Jason

Ryann 6 years ago

Thank you.. Oh, so very much. :)

alex 6 years ago

A very helpful article. I've been spending all day trying to figure this out. Thanks.

bryan 6 years ago

this is perfect. thanks for sharing!

alex 6 years ago

finally! I've been trying to figure this one out and you provided the magic answer -- thank you so much!

Pedro 6 years ago

It's important to say that the parent canot be table and child elements. I had to insert a div tag inside my table to make it work.

Maarten 6 years ago

Great post! Thanks!

Ashley 6 years ago


This fixed my divs with z-indexs ranging from 0-2, but for some reason it's not working with 2 divs that have z-indexes of 3. Any ideas?

Dylan 6 years ago

I stubled across this site with a similar problem however with bookmark links within the page. This solution however does not work for links.

kencise 6 years ago

Use a negative margin-bottom on the moved element. done!

samironwebtrack profile image

samironwebtrack 6 years ago

nice hub

KevinGenius 5 years ago

Thanks so much.... Needed that

Aymeric 5 years ago

Thanks! It is nice to find that we are not the only one having the same problem.

moo 5 years ago

Thx for this! :D

Sara 5 years ago

You ROCK! Thank you so much... you saved me hours of time! Sending good karma your way. :) Thanks!


Vern 5 years ago

Thank you!

richard 5 years ago

Thank You!

this was a great help. :)

Andreas 5 years ago

Great tip, thanks!

orry 5 years ago

You saved me here. This was frustrating me for so long!

Inf 5 years ago

Thanks! It worked!

Gautam 5 years ago

Jason, U rock man! spent hours on this and finally thanks to Google and to you that i finally managed to get the div tags in place and working... Phew! Awesome, can finally go off to sleep.. :-)

Xionc 5 years ago

thanks a lot :)

Harrold 5 years ago

Ok, credit when credit is due. Man have i been searching for this solution. It always stays complicated with the positioning issues and this actually solved my issues as well. Thanks a lot for writing the article Jason

KC 5 years ago

YOU ROCK !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is secret ninja stuff man.

My page is finally done !!

Derek 5 years ago

Thanks man... Just what I needed :)

Derek 5 years ago

Thanks man... Just what I needed :)

Yong 5 years ago

Thank you so much for shareing that!!! puzzle me for so long :)

DVaz 5 years ago

Thank you very much for sharing that! Just wiped out my frustration with relative positioning. Thanks!

Prof Matt Versaggi 4 years ago

Awesome! This just saved me a TON of time! Bravo!

FYI: I was able to achieve similar results by putting the original DIV in a table structure and making it's position 'absolute'.

Someone 4 years ago

I LOVE YOU!!! Thanks for this!!

??????? 4 years ago

I read this about a year ago and it really helped a ton, I just never posted then which is why I'm posting now to say thanks a ton. Keep up the good work (and sorry for the late post :p)

USER 4 years ago

BIG HELP this is. Thanks man, saved me some time

4 years ago

You're a life saver man, thanks!

Athiruban SM 4 years ago

Really Great for sharing this idea.

Thanks for your help. :)

Maria d LA 4 years ago

Excellent!!!!! Thank you for sharing your wisdom!

Dready 4 years ago

Thanks so much... i recognize the frustration you wrote about very well. But this solved it.

AyCaramba 4 years ago

Thanks a lot dude! that's an easy and yet clean solution. Saved me a lot of hours!

Dan from Boston 4 years ago

Thanks this helps a lot, love the internet

John 4 years ago


Kk 4 years ago

Great help!

GOGOwebdesign 4 years ago

FINALLY!!!! Have been searching for a clear and precise explanation/workaraound for months and found it here! THANK YOU

Kevin 4 years ago

Mind = BLOWN!!! Thank you oh so very much!!!

Kanyon 4 years ago

This is amazing!!! Looking for this forever


Aidan 3 years ago

Been looking for a solution to this forever and I finally found it.

Thank you so much!

Josh 3 years ago

Thank you!!

Mike 3 years ago

Excellent suggestion, looks like it's been around for awhile! the other posts I found weren't helpful at all. This is a great solution, thanks for posting!

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