CSS column-width

The CSS column-width property allows you to specify the width of the columns in your multi-column layouts.

You can specify your column widths to be automatic (i.e. auto) or a specific length value.

You can also use the columns property to set the width and column count at once.

Syntax

column-width: <length> | auto

Possible Values

<length>
Defines the width that each column should be. More precisely, it defines the optimal column width. The actual column width may be wider (to fill the available space), or narrower (only if the available space is smaller than the specified column width). Value can be either auto or a fixed length (e.g., 120px). Specified values must be greater than 0.
auto
Defines that the column width will be determined by other properties (e.g., column-count, if it has a non-auto value).

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
See individual properties
Applies To
non-replaced block-level elements (except table elements), table cells, and inline-block elements
Inherited?
No
Media
Visual
Animatable
Yes (see example)

Example Code

Basic CSS

column-width: 120px;

Working Example within an HTML Document

<!doctype html>
<title>Example</title>
<style>
.multicol {
  background: beige;
  padding: 10px;
  -webkit-column-width: 70px; /* Safari and Chrome */
  -moz-column-width: 70px; /* Firefox */
  column-width: 70px; /* CSS3 */
}
</style>

<div class="multicol">
  <h3>Column-width Example</h3>
  <p>The CSS column-width property allows you to specify the width of the columns in your multi-column layouts. </p>
  <p>You can specify your column widths to be automatic (i.e. auto) or a specific length value.</p>
  <p>Try changing the values to see the effect it has on this example.</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.