CSS transform-style


The CSS transform-style property is used to determine whether child elements (of a 3D element) should be 3D or flat.

If the value is preserve-3d, the children of the element will be positioned in the 3D-space (i.e. they will appear as 3D). If the value is flat, the children will appear flat (i.e. they won't appear as 3D).

The examples on this page include browser-specific properties that start with extensions such as -webkit-, -moz-, etc. This is for browser compatibility reasons. See the bottom of this article for more on this.


transform-style: value

Possible Values

flat | preserve-3d

Explanation of these values:

Specifies that the children of the element should be positioned in the 3D-space.
Specifies that the children of the element are lying in the plane of the element itself.


Initial Value
Applies To
This property applies only to transformable elements.

In HTML, a transformable element is either:

  • a block-level or atomic inline-level element
  • or whose CSS display property computes to table-row, table-row-group, table-header-group, table-footer-group, table-cell, or table-caption

In SVG, a transformable element is an element which has the attributes transform, patternTransform or gradientTransform.

Computed Value
Same as specified value.

Example Code

transform-style: preserve-3d;  /* W3C */
-webkit-style: preserve-3d; /* Safari & Chrome */
-moz-style: preserve-3d; /* Firefox */
-ms-style: preserve-3d; /* Internet Explorer */
-o-style: preserve-3d; /* Opera */
Note that this example includes various CSS extensions in addition to the W3C CSS3 property. This is for browser compatibility.

Browser Compatibility

At the time of writing, CSS3 was still under development and browser support for many CSS3 properties was limited or non-existent. 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.

Be aware that if you choose to use the proprietary CSS extensions in a live environment, your code will not pass any W3C CSS validation, as the browser-specific properties are not valid W3C properties.

Many of the CSS3 examples on this website include these browser specific properties. If they weren't included, most of the examples wouldn't work for most users (at least, not until possibly years after the article was written).

The major browser manufacturers are working to support the W3C properties, and eventually, you will be able to omit these browser-specific properties.