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Web Design in a Nutshell, 3rd Edition by Jennifer Robbins

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Normal Flow

Before jumping into methods for positioning elements, it is useful to have an understanding of what is meant by the “normal flow " of a document according to the CSS layout model. In the normal flow, text elements are laid out from top to bottom, and from left to right in left-to-right reading languages (or from right to left in right-to-left reading languages). This is the default behavior of the web browser.

In the normal flow, block-level elements stack on top of one another and inline elements fill the available space. When the browsing window is resized, the block elements expand or contract to the new width, and the inline content reflows to fit. Objects in the normal flow influence the position of the surrounding content (sibling elements).

In CSS positioning, blocks are defined as being either in the normal flow or removed from the normal flow. Floating and positioning elements changes their relationship to the normal flow, as discussed in the following sections.

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