The Nav Bar

In the HTML module you looked at navigating to site pages using the nav element. There, we created a list of links, perhaps broken up by vertical lines or spacing:

This was helpful up to a point, but its very limiting on how we can style these links.By changing the display property of those links, we can change how each relates to each other as elements.

Let’s review:


div {
  display: ;

The CSS display: property allows developers to explicitly specify and/or change the display properties for any element, including the option to “hide” an element. This greatly increases the developers ability to create layouts that support the presentation of content in a web browser.

The display: property is called on the actual element it is being applied to (as opposed to a parent element holding child elements).

The three main display properties that we’ll discuss are:

  • block
  • inline
  • inline-block


The display: inline; rule forces elements to act like inline elements. Inline elements, unlike block-level elements:

  • only take up as much horizontal space as is needed (ignores width properties).
  • do not force new lines.
  • “flow” with content on the screen, and as such, do not respect the margin property.
  • cannot change the vertical (top/bottom) distance between themselves and other elements.


The display: inline-block; rule, like display: inline;, removes new lines inherent in block elements. Unlike display: inline;, display: inline-block; also forces elements to respect margin and vertical spacing properties/rules.

However, this also means these elements will expand horizontally to fill the parent-container. Therefore, you must explicitly set the width of these elements.


Just like the display property can be used to turn ‘block’ elements into inline or inline-block elements, it can also be used to turn ‘inline’ elements into block elements. This technique is often used to create vertical nav bars out of lists.

In the following example, notice that the same basic HTML code is used three times in a row. However, the second and third examples have display: inline; & display: inline-block;, respectively.

Notice the differences of these display techniques. Particularly with regard to horizontal and vertical spacing.

As you can see, we have used display: inline; & display: inline-block; to create our first header nav bars! And in fact, it is often used for that purpose.