CSS flex-direction

The CSS flex-direction property specifies the direction of flex items. It works by setting the direction of the flex container's main axis.


Possible Values

The flex container's main axis has the same orientation as the inline axis of the current writing mode (i.e. horizontal axis for horizontal writing modes and vertical axis for vertical writing modes). The main-start and main-end directions are equivalent to the inline-start and inline-end directions, respectively, of the current writing mode.
Same as row, except the main-start and main-end directions are swapped.
The flex container's main axis has the same orientation as the block axis of the current writing mode (i.e. the vertical axis in horizontal writing modes and the horizontal axis in vertical writing modes).
Same as column, except the main-start and main-end directions are swapped.

The reverse values (i.e. row-reverse and column-reverse) affect only the visual rendering. Speech order and navigation is based on the order of the source code. The same applies to the flexbox order property.

The reverse values don't reverse box ordering. They simply change the direction of the flow. Therefore, painting order, speech order, and sequential navigation orders are not affected by these values.

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

Represents the value specified as the property's initial value.
Represents the computed value of the property on the element's parent.
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
Applies To
Flex containers
Computed Value
Specified value

Example Code

Basic CSS

Working Example within an HTML Document

Try it

CSS Specifications

About Flexbox

Flexbox refers to the Flexible Box Layout module introduced in CSS3. A flex container is an element with either display: flex or display: inline-flex.

In the flex layout model, the children of a flex container can be laid out in any direction, and can "flex" their sizes, either growing to fill unused space or shrinking to avoid overflowing the parent.

For more information on flex items, see the flex property.

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.