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CSS for Variable Height Elements in a Grid.


Assume that you need to build a grid with multiple elements using CSS and HTML, where the height of each element varies due to different lengths of content. I think of this as "The CD Problem", displaying a list of CD covers with wildly different album titles. If you just float each element left, then the taller elements will break the grid and your whole layout: Broken grid of HTML elements

This is the solution to the breaking grid:

li:nth-child(4n+1) { clear:left; } That CSS says to clear: left; every 4th li (after the 1st one). clear: left; causes the element to force a new grid row to start.

Here is some example HTML:

    <h4>Bacon ipsum dolor</h4>
    <img src="" />
    <p>Sit amet short ribs pork chop sandwhich pork belly</p>
    <h4>Pastrami andouille</h4>
    <img src="" />
    <p>Boudin chuck ground round</p>

And the CSS:

li:nth-child(4n+1) {

li {
  width: 20%;
  margin: 0 .5rem .5rem 0;
  padding: 1%;
  float: left;
  border: solid black 1px;
  text-align: center;

ul {
  list-style: none;
  padding: 0;
  font-size: small;

img {
  max-width: 100%;

h4 {
  margin: .5rem;
  text-transform: capitalize;

p {
  margin: .5rem;
  text-align: left;

You can fiddle with a live example on CodePen.


Tags: code css web-development

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