CSS column-fill

The CSS column-fill property allows you to balance content equally between columns on a multi-column layout.

Syntax

column-fill: auto | balance;

Possible Values

auto
Specifies that columns should be filled sequentially.
balance
Determines that content should be balanced between the columns, if possible.

In addition, all CSS properties also accept the following CSS-wide keyword values as the sole component of their property value:

initial
Represents the value specified as the property's initial value.
inherit
Represents the computed value of the property on the element's parent.
unset
This value acts as either inherit or initial, depending on whether the property is inherited or not. In other words, it sets all properties to their parent value if they are inheritable or to their initial value if not inheritable.

Basic Property Information

Initial Value
balance
Applies To
multicol elements
Inherited?
No
Media

The W3C specification states the following regarding the column-fill property:

In continuous media, this property will only be consulted if the length of columns has been constrained. Otherwise, columns will automatically be balanced.
  • In continous media, this property does not have any effect in overflow columns.
  • In paged media, this property will only have effect on the last page the multicol element appears on.

Example Code

Basic CSS

column-fill: balance;

Working Example within an HTML Document

<!doctype html>
<title>Example</title>
<style>
.multicol {
  background-color: beige;
  padding: 10px;

  /* Safari and Chrome */
  -webkit-column-count: 3;
  -webkit-column-rule: 2px dotted coral;
  -webkit-column-fill: balance;

  /* Firefox */
  -moz-column-count: 3; 
  -moz-column-rule: 2px dotted coral;
  -moz-column-fill: balance;

  /* CSS3 */
  column-count: 3; 
  column-rule: 2px dotted coral;
  column-fill: balance;
}
</style>
<h3>Column-fill Example</h3>
<div class="multicol">
  <p>The CSS column-fill property allows you to balance content equally between columns on a multi-column layout.</p>
  <p>At the time of writing, browser support for this property was limted/non-existent. Therefore, this example may not display as expected.</p>
</div>

Try it with the Online Editor

This example uses vendor prefixes for the multi-column layout due to lack of browser support for the official standard at the time of writing.

CSS Specifications

Browser Support

The following table provided by Caniuse.com shows the level of browser support for this feature.

Vendor Prefixes

For maximum browser compatibility many web developers add browser-specific properties by using extensions such as -webkit- for Safari, Google Chrome, and Opera (newer versions), -ms- for Internet Explorer, -moz- for Firefox, -o- for older versions of Opera etc. As with any CSS property, if a browser doesn't support a proprietary extension, it will simply ignore it.

This practice is not recommended by the W3C, however in many cases, the only way you can test a property is to include the CSS extension that is compatible with your browser.

The major browser manufacturers generally strive to adhere to the W3C specifications, and when they support a non-prefixed property, they typically remove the prefixed version. Also, W3C advises vendors to remove their prefixes for properties that reach Candidate Recommendation status.

Many developers use Autoprefixer, which is a postprocessor for CSS. Autoprefixer automatically adds vendor prefixes to your CSS so that you don't need to. It also removes old, unnecessary prefixes from your CSS.

You can also use Autoprefixer with preprocessors such as Less and Sass.