fit-content and fit-content()

Today we will look at fit-content and fit-content(), which are special values for width and grid definitions. It’s ... complicated — not as a concept, but in its practical application.

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min- and max-content

Before looking at fit-content we have to briefly review two other special width values: min-content and max-content. You need those in order to understand fit-content.

Normally (i.e. with width: auto defined or implied) a box will take as much horizontal space as it can. You can change the horizontal space by giving width a specifc value, but you can also order the browser to determine it from the box’s contents. That’s what min-content and max-content do.

Try them below.

min-content and max-content
width: auto: as much as possible
width: max-content
width: min-content
width: max-content with a long text that runs the danger of disappearing right out of the browser window if it continues for much longer

If you use hyphens: auto or something similar, the browser will break the words at the correct hyphenation points before determining the minimal width. (I turned off hyphenation in the examples.)

Quick Chromia/Android rabbit hole

All Chromium-based browsers on Android (tested in Chrome (v90), Samsung Internet (v87), and Edge (v77)) break off the 'width: max-content' text in the example above at the dash, and thus take the 'width: max-' as the max-content, provided the page does NOT have a meta viewport. No other browser does this — and that includes Chrome on Mac.

Screenshot of this bug

Also, Chromia on Android make the font-size a tad smaller when you resize the boxes below the maximum possible width. I will ignore both bugs because this article is about fit-content, and not about these rabbit holes.

These bugs do NOT occur in UC (based on Chromium 78). Seems UC is taking its own decisions here, and is impervious to these particular bugs.

fit-content

Now that we understand these values we also understand fit-content. It is essentially a shorthand for the following:

box {
	width: auto;
	min-width: min-content;
	max-width: max-content;
}

Thus the box sizes with its containing box, but to a minimum of min-content and to a maximum of max-content.

fit-content as width, min-width, and max-width
width: fit-content: trying to find my fit
min-width: fit-content
max-width: fit-content

I’m not sure if this effect is useful outside a grid or flexbox context, but it’s here if you need it.

fit-content as min- or max-width

You can also use fit-content as a min-width or max-width value; see the example above. The first means that the width of the box varies between min-content and auto, while the second means it varies between 0 and max-content.

I find this fairly useless and potentially confusing. What you really mean is min-width: min-content or max-width: max-content. If that’s what you mean, say so. Your CSS will be clearer if you do.

So I believe that it would be better not to use fit-content for min-width or max-width; but only for width.

-moz-

Unfortunately, while fit-content works in all other browsers, Firefox still needs a vendor prefix. So the final code becomes:

box {
	width: -moz-fit-content;
	width: fit-content;
}

(These prefixes get harder and harder to defend as time goes by. fit-content has perfectly fine cross-browser support, so I don’t see why Firefox doesn’t just go over to the regular variant.)

fit-content in flexbox and grid: nope

fit-content does not work in flexbox and grid. In the example below the centre box has width: fit-content; it does not work. If it worked the middle box would have a width of max-content; i.e. as small as it needs to be to contain its text.

Flexbox with fit-content
Test content
fit-content
Test content

The final example on this page has a test where you can see grid doesn’t understand this keyword, either.

Note that grid and flex items have min-width: min-content by default, as you can see in the example above.

fit-content()

Let’s go to the more complex part: fit-content(). Although it’s supposed to work for a normal width, it doesn’t.

fit-content and fit-content() as width
width: fit-content: trying to find my fit
width: fit-content(200px)

Grid

You can use fit-content(value) in grid templates, like:

1fr fit-content(200px) 1fr
Grid with fit-content(200px)
Test content
fit-content(200px)
Test content

It means

1fr min(max-content-size, max(min-content, 200px)) 1fr

The max() argument becomes min-content or 200 pixels, whichever is larger. This is then compared to the maximum content size, which is the actual width available due to the constraints of the grid, but with a maximum of max-content. So the real formula is more like this one, where available-size is the available width in the grid:

1fr min(min(max-content,available-size), max(min-content, 200px)) 1fr

Some syntactic notes:

I tested most of these things in the following example, where you can also try the bits of syntax that do not work — maybe they’ll start working later.

And that’s fit-content and fit-content() for you. It’s useful in some situations.

Below you can play around with fit-content() in a grid.

Grid with controls

Set grid-template-columns: to

Test content
fit-content() with some more text

[ Would you like to improve your CSS? You can hire me as a CSS coach. ]

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