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CSS Horizontal Navigation Bar


Horizontal Navigation Bar

There are two ways to create a horizontal navigation bar. Using inline or floating list items.

Inline List Items

One way to build a horizontal navigation bar is to specify the <li> elements as inline, in addition to the "standard" code from the previous page:

Example

li {
  display: inline;
}
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Example explained:

  • display: inline; - By default, <li> elements are block elements. Here, we remove the line breaks before and after each list item, to display them on one line

Floating List Items

Another way of creating a horizontal navigation bar is to float the <li> elements, and specify a layout for the navigation links:

Example

li {
  float: left;
}

a {
  display: block;
  padding: 8px;
  background-color: #dddddd;
}
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Example explained:

  • float: left; - use float to get block elements to slide next to each other
  • display: block; - Displaying the links as block elements makes the whole link area clickable (not just the text), and it allows us to specify padding (and height, width, margins, etc. if you want)
  • padding: 8px; - Since block elements take up the full width available, they cannot float next to each other. Therefore, specify some padding to make them look good
  • background-color: #dddddd; - Add a gray background-color to each a element

Tip: Add the background-color to <ul> instead of each <a> element if you want a full-width background color:

Example

ul {
  background-color: #dddddd;
}
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Horizontal Navigation Bar Examples

Create a basic horizontal navigation bar with a dark background color and change the background color of the links when the user moves the mouse over them:

Example

ul {
  list-style-type: none;
  margin: 0;
  padding: 0;
  overflow: hidden;
  background-color: #333;
}

li {
  float: left;
}

li a {
  display: block;
  color: white;
  text-align: center;
  padding: 14px 16px;
  text-decoration: none;
}

/* Change the link color to #111 (black) on hover */
li a:hover {
  background-color: #111;
}
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Active/Current Navigation Link

Add an "active" class to the current link to let the user know which page he/she is on:

Example

.active {
  background-color: #4CAF50;
}
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Right-Align Links

Right-align links by floating the list items to the right (float:right;):

Example

<ul>
  <li><a href="#home">Home</a></li>
  <li><a href="#news">News</a></li>
  <li><a href="#contact">Contact</a></li>
  <li style="float:right"><a class="active" href="#about">About</a></li>
</ul>
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Border Dividers

Add the border-right property to <li> to create link dividers:

Example

/* Add a gray right border to all list items, except the last item (last-child) */
li {
  border-right: 1px solid #bbb;
}

li:last-child {
  border-right: none;
}
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Fixed Navigation Bar

Make the navigation bar stay at the top or the bottom of the page, even when the user scrolls the page:

Fixed Top

ul {
  position: fixed;
  top: 0;
  width: 100%;
}
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Fixed Bottom

ul {
  position: fixed;
  bottom: 0;
  width: 100%;
}
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Note: Fixed position might not work properly on mobile devices.

Gray Horizontal Navbar

An example of a gray horizontal navigation bar with a thin gray border:

Example

ul {
  border: 1px solid #e7e7e7;
  background-color: #f3f3f3;
}

li a {
  color: #666;
}
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Sticky Navbar

Add position: sticky; to <ul> to create a sticky navbar.

A sticky element toggles between relative and fixed, depending on the scroll position. It is positioned relative until a given offset position is met in the viewport - then it "sticks" in place (like position:fixed).

Example

ul {
  position: -webkit-sticky; /* Safari */
  position: sticky;
  top: 0;
}
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Note: Internet Explorer, Edge 15 and earlier versions do not support sticky positioning. Safari requires a -webkit- prefix (see example above). You must also specify at least one of top, right, bottom or left for sticky positioning to work.


More Examples

Responsive Topnav

How to use CSS media queries to create a responsive top navigation.

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Responsive Sidenav

How to use CSS media queries to create a responsive side navigation.

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Dropdown Navbar

How to add a dropdown menu inside a navigation bar.

Try it Yourself »