What Is the Float Data Type?


Scott Campbell

The float data type is a fundamental concept in programming languages, including HTML and CSS. It is used to represent decimal numbers or values with a fractional component. In HTML, the float data type is mainly utilized for the positioning of elements within a webpage.

Understanding the float Data Type

The float data type allows web developers to control the horizontal alignment and positioning of elements on a webpage. By default, HTML elements have a static position, which means they follow the normal flow of the document.

However, by applying float to an element, it can be pulled out from its normal position and be aligned to either the left or right side of its parent container. This enables other content to flow around it.


The syntax for using float in CSS is as follows:

selector {
  float: left | right | none;

The selector represents the HTML element that you want to apply the float property to. The left value will align the element to the left side, while the right value will align it to the right side. Using none, which is also the default value, will remove any floating behavior from an element.

Floating Elements in Practice

To illustrate how floating elements work, consider the following example:

<div style="float: left; width: 200px;">
  <p>This is a floating div</p>

<p>Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet..</p>

In this example, we have a <div> element with a float property set to left. This means it will align to the left side of its parent container and other content will flow around it. The width of the div is set to 200 pixels for better visualization.

The <p> element below the div will flow around the floating div, adjusting its position accordingly. This effect is what makes floating elements useful in creating layouts with text wrapping around images or other elements.

Clearing Floats

When using floating elements, it’s essential to consider how they affect subsequent content. To prevent unintended behavior, such as overlapping or improper alignment, you should clear floats when necessary.

The clear property allows you to specify whether an element should be pushed below any floating elements that come before it. The most commonly used values are left, right, and both.

<div style="clear: both;"></div>

In this example, an empty <div> element is used with the clear property set to both. This ensures that no other elements can float alongside it from either side and will appear below any previous floating elements.


The float data type is a useful tool for controlling the layout and positioning of elements in HTML and CSS. By applying float to an element, you can pull it out from its normal position and allow other content to wrap around it. Remember to use the clear property when necessary to avoid unwanted effects from floating elements.

This concludes our article on the float data type. Happy coding!

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