Block-level elements

HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) elements historically were categorized as either "block-level" elements or "inline" elements. By default, a block-level element occupies the entire space of its parent element (container), thereby creating a "block." This article helps to explain what this means.

Browsers typically display the block-level element with a newline both before and after the element. You can visualize them as a stack of boxes.

A block-level element always starts on a new line and takes up the full width available (stretches out to the left and right as far as it can).

The following example demonstrates the block-level element's influence:

Block-level elements


<p>This paragraph is a block-level element; its background has been colored to display the paragraph's parent element.</p>


p { background-color: #8ABB55; }


  • Block-level elements may appear only within a <body> element.

Block-level vs. inline

There are a couple of key differences between block-level elements and inline elements:

Content model
Generally, block-level elements may contain inline elements and (sometimes) other block-level elements. Inherent in this structural distinction is the idea that block elements create "larger" structures than inline elements.
Default formatting
By default, block-level elements begin on new lines, but inline elements can start anywhere in a line.

The distinction of block-level vs. inline elements was used in HTML specifications up to 4.01. In HTML5, this binary distinction is replaced with a more complex set of content categories. While the "inline" category roughly corresponds to the category of phrasing content, the "block-level" category doesn't directly correspond to any HTML5 content category, but "block-level" and "inline" elements combined together correspond to the flow content in HTML5. There are also additional categories, e.g. interactive content.


The following is a complete list of all HTML "block-level" elements (although "block-level" is not technically defined for elements that are new in HTML5).

Contact information.
Article content.
Aside content.
Long ("block") quotation.
Disclosure widget.
Dialog box.
Describes a term in a description list.
Document division.
Description list.
Description list term.
Field set label.
Figure caption.
Groups media content with a caption (see <figcaption>).
Section or page footer.
Input form.
<h1>, <h2>, <h3>, <h4>, <h5>, <h6>
Heading levels 1-6.
Section or page header.
Groups header information.
Horizontal rule (dividing line).
List item.
Contains the central content unique to this document.
Contains navigation links.
Ordered list.
Preformatted text.
Section of a web page.
Unordered list.

See also

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