A float is a box that is shifted to the left or right on the current line. The most interesting characteristic of a float (or "floated" or "floating" box) is that content may flow along its side (or be prohibited from doing so by the 'clear' property). Content flows down the right side of a left-floated box and down the left side of a right-floated box. The following is an introduction to float positioning and content flow; the exact rules governing float behavior are given in the description of the 'float' property.

A floated box must have an explicit width (assigned via the 'width' property, or its intrinsic width in the case of replaced elements). Any floated box becomes a block box that is shifted to the left or right until its outer edge touches the containing block edge or the outer edge of another float. The top of the floated box is aligned with the top of the current line box (or bottom of the preceding block box if no line box exists). If there isn't enough horizontal room on the current line for the float, it is shifted downward, line by line, until a line has room for it.



Since a float is not in the flow, non-positioned block boxes created before and after the float box flow vertically as if the float didn't exist. However, line boxes created next to the float are shortened to make room for the floated box. Any content in the current line before a floated box is reflowed in the first available line on the other side of the float.