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Cascading Style Sheets: The Definitive Guide by Eric A. Meyer

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Classification of Elements

As we have already discussed, elements in a document occur in a sort of hierarchy. At the most basic level, block-level elements contain other block-level elements, inline elements, and replaced elements. A part of this hierarchy scheme depends on the relationships between these types of elements; for example, while inline elements can be children of block-level elements, the reverse is not true.

In CSS, elements are grouped into three types:

Block-level elements

Elements such as paragraphs, headings, lists, tables, DIVs, and BODY. Replaced elements, such as images and form inputs, can be block-level elements but usually are not. Each block-level element is displayed on a line by itself, so to speak, beginning on a new line and forcing any element after it to do the same. Block-level elements can only be children of other block-level elements, and then only in certain circumstances.

Inline elements

Elements such as A, EM , SPAN, and most replaced elements, such as images and form inputs. They do not force anything to start on a new line, not even themselves, and can be the children of any other element.

List-item elements

Elements that in HTML pretty much include only the LI element. These are specially defined to have presentation aspects such as a “marker” (a bullet, letter, or number) and a certain sense of ordering, if such an element appears within an ordered list of some kind. Thus, list items within such a list can be automatically numbered, based ...

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