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A few considerations about the CSS min-width, width, and max-width properties

In theory, things should be pretty staring forward with the min-width, width, and max-width properties:

  • min-width will tell that an element it cannot be narrower than a specific value
  • width will tell that the element will always have a fixed width
  • max-width will tell that the element will not be wider than a specific value.

However, what happens if we have some conflicting values like:

.my-element {
    min-width: 300px;
    width: 500px;
    max-width: 100px;

Well, the general rule is that the min-width property overrides both the width and max-width properties and prevents the value of the width from becoming smaller than a specified value.

Alongside max-width and min-width we also have max-height and min-height so all that it is said about the width properties is also available for the height props.

Using percentages for min-width and max-width

One tricky (and useful) use case is when we use percentages to express the values for the max and min-width.

Having the width:100% means that we use the parent's width to calculate the current width value whereas max-width:100% uses the original width to calculate the maximum size.

So, let's say we have a jpg image file with a real width of 100px that it is placed in a div with a width of 200px. If we will have img { width:100%; } then this means that that the jpg image will be stretched to 200px.

While having img { max-width:100%; } means that the img will to its natural maximum of 100px. Check out the below codepen:

See the Pen
by JS Craft (@js-craft)
on CodePen.

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