Coding Newbie

margin and padding

CSS Margin and Padding: Understand the Difference

If you are interested in CSS, you have definitely heard the terms margin and padding. However, it takes time to fully understand them, and especially how to utilize them in your website designs, especially if you have just started to learn CSS. These are quite similar concepts, but not identical. There are some important variances in how they are used, and how you should use them.

Fully understanding these concepts will help you make better decisions when coding your website, as these properties can achieve the same result, but they do behave differently.

Let us examine the difference between them, and how to use them.

What is the main difference between Margin and Padding?

A margin is the space around an element’s border in CSS, whereas padding is the space between the element’s border and its content.

To put it another way, the margin and padding properties manage the space outside and inside an element, respectively. The margin is the space outside the element’s border, while the padding is the space inside the border.

css margin and padding

Margin in detail

The space around an element is known as the margin.

We use margins to move an element in any direction on our page (up, down, left, right), as well as to create some additional space between targeted element and surrounding elements.

With added margins, we are actually pushing surrounding elements away from targeted objects, which declutters the space around. The margin has no background color and is fully transparent.

You are able to set following values:

  • margin
  • margin-top
  • margin-right
  • margin-bottom
  • margin-left

When to use Margins?

  • Change the element’s position.
  • Make additional space between elements.
  • Make elements overlap each other.
  • Easily center the elements within the container with margin: auto; property.

Padding in detail

Padding represents the distance between an element and the content it contains.

It is the space within the element’s borders. It determines the appearance and placement of items inside the container.

When increasing the padding, we are increasing the gap between the content and the element’s border. The gap increase by default results in increasing the size of an element.

It is possible to increase the gap without making the element larger, and it is done by reducing the size of the content. If you wish to achieve that, you must set the element’s box-sizing: border-box; property.

The padding does not have color by itself, but takes the color of the element it belongs to.

You are able to set following values:

  • padding
  • padding-top
  • padding-right
  • padding-bottom
  • padding-left

When to use paddings?

  • Create additional space between the content and element’s border.
  • Change the size of an element by altering padding value.


Using margin and padding is the typical method to create space between elements. However, understanding the difference is extremely important in order to master CSS and get better control over your website design.

When using margin and padding, it is also essential to understand the CSS units you have at your disposal, as used units affect the behavior of the elements.

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