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Header customization, Html & inline css codes, Position absolute

Position absolute (pt. 1)

According to, “an element with position: absolute is positioned at the specified coordinates relative to its containing block”. Using this command, you can work various sorts of magic that would normally require the paid CSS upgrade: you can put code in a text widget and make something show up at another point on the blog page instead of the sidebar or bottombar.

In its most basic form, the code model is this:

<div style="position:absolute;top:NUMBER HEREpx;left:NUMBER HEREpx;">

Various additional commands may be needed, depending on the theme and the particular element to be positioned.

Note that the top (or bottom) and the left (or right) px numbers are offset numbers: if, for instance, you increase the top number, the element will move downwards.

Example 1

In my primary blog I’m using Chaotic Soul. I hated the original “Get a free blog” notice in the footer, so I masked it with a strip in a color identical to that of the theme background. Code:

<div style="position:absolute;width:100%;bottom:-70px;left:0;height:42px;background:#161410;"></div>

The footer includes a link to the designer’s site as well; hiding that isn’t fair, so I transferred it to a text widget. Before/after snapshots here.

For an additional masking example (in MistyLook), see this post, third bullet.

Example 2

Unsleepable has a plain black header, with no built-in option for inserting a custom header image. You can do it with the following code:

<div align="center" style="position:absolute;width:100%;top:-120px;right:550px;">
<a href="BLOG URL HERE"><img src="IMAGE URL HERE"></a>

The dimensions of the image need to be 776 x 100 pixels. The image must include the blog title, since the original one will be masked. In designing the image you must take into account that logged-in users get the grey admin bar up top, which will hide the upper 28px of the image. For a specimen, check this feast of a blog (fellow forum volunteer Tess).

The same technique (with additional commands for transparency) has been used for the image that encloses the title of my blog.

Example 3

Ocean Mist has navigation tabs in the header, but with no “Home” link. By way of an exercise rather than a recommended solution, here’s a code for a home tab:

<div align="center" style="width:100%;top:149px;left:12px;position:absolute;">
<div style="width:702px;">
<table border="0" align="left">
<td style="background-color:#526A74;padding:6px;">
<a href="BLOG_URL_HERE"><span style="color:#f3f3f3;"><h4>Home</h4></span></a>



This example also serves as an introduction to the problems you get with many themes: in contrast to Unsleepable, in this case the presence or absence of the grey admin bar will affect the placement of the element. The image above displays what logged-in users will see; for other visitors (or for logged-out users) the tab will show up lower. In the next post on position absolute, there’ll be there is a complete report on all themes re this and other shortcomings.

Please don’t paste code in comments – see comment guidelines.


50 thoughts on “Position absolute (pt. 1)

  1. Panos:

    You are amazing! Thank you, thank you! No one would guess that Unsleepable is the theme I’m using, and I am ever so happy and grateful for your generosity, help and inspiration. You already know that, I’m certain! My many thanks…

    And thanks to you, I’ve ventured off a bit on my own. With the recent changes to the gallery / attachment pages, I have dared to try some “relative position” codes to hide the “improvement” of navigation. (blog 2, which I don’t want to publicize.)

    As anytime,

    Posted by Tess | October 27, 2009, 05:59
  2. “No one would guess that Unsleepable is the theme I’m using”: If that wasn’t mentioned in the footer, I would have asked you if it’s ok to use your blog as an example.

    “which I don’t want to publicize”: Oh! Should I remove it from my links then?

    “relative position”: Where exactly?

    Posted by Panos | October 28, 2009, 06:47
  3. Hi then,
    Don’t be silly! No reason to ask! After all, you did all the work; I should put a credit to you on the blog. I would never have gotten it right!

    re: publicize It’s no matter.
    I’ve been of two minds about that. Blog 2 isn’t private. I don’t mind strangers reading it. It’s extremely unlikely I’ll meet anyone who read it! I can trust husband and daughter not to look at it. And though it’s personal, it’s not exactly secret or interesting. And it’s very unlikely anyone I know reads this blog because they don’t care about wordpress.

    Anyway, to something that matters:
    I don’t like the thumbnails appearing—and now I have to hide them.
    (yes, I know that the title links back now, but I wasn’t paying attention when I started…)

    Posted by Tess | October 29, 2009, 09:02
  4. Argh! Backticks don’t work in comments:

    <div style="padding-top:2em;padding-right:2em;height:80px;position:relative;bottom:10px;background:#ffffff;width:500px;line-height:3;text-align:right;">LINK_BACK_TO_PORTRAIT

    Posted by Tess | October 29, 2009, 16:24
  5. Oh, my. I’m thinking you have noticed, but image editing is becoming very different. (editing media) Much new stuff. It has been a rumor, but now it’s here!!!

    Posted by Tess | October 30, 2009, 05:37
  6. 1. Looks ok in Firefox, can’t check it in Safari at the moment.

    2. I noticed – the embarrassing way:

    Posted by Panos | October 30, 2009, 11:24
  7. I had no idea what I was doing up there. Position relative can not be so difficult!
    So off-topic from your post, but I’m trying to explain it to understand.
    Position absolute (also fixed) is putting an element on a grid that’s easy to imagine. But position relative is placing the element somewhere, not where it is, but where you want it. So when you look at it, you can’t tell where it is (in the code) because it shows up somewhere else.
    Also it seems that bottom:-35px is the same as top:35px? Maybe if I used an image I’d see the difference?

    <p style="background:#ffffff;height:20px;position:relative;bottom:-35px;width:500px;text-align:right;"><a title="mre beef raviolli" href=""><em><strong><span style="color:#000080;">Return to the post.</span></strong></em></a></p>

    so anyway, I’ve hidden part of the post: even a page that’s not linked. (a determined person could find it easily so it’s not really a secret. LOL)

    Posted by Tess | January 18, 2010, 19:13
  8. You’re referring to pages such as this:

    “bottom:-35px is the same as top:35px?” I guess so, because in this case they both mean 35px above the same point (the point where the code is).

    “I’ve hidden part of the post: even a page that’s not linked.” You mean masking the navigation numbers? That’s probably the only reason for using position-relative for that link, isn’t it?

    Posted by Panos | January 18, 2010, 20:29
  9. well, yes.
    (husband thought it was intimidating to have 27 pages at the bottom of such a silly post)
    I haven’t been able to cook because someone gave us a 19 pound turkey and there are just no Japanese recipes for such a bird, and I thought learning about image mapping might come in handy…

    Posted by Tess | January 18, 2010, 20:48
  10. Confucius would say: husband, like wife, most clever.

    (Confucius might also say: bird most difficult to reciperocate.)

    Now explain image-mapping to me…

    Posted by Panos | January 18, 2010, 21:17
  11. If you go to my post you are able to click on various parts of the composite picture on the front page. (It can be done with any pic not just a composite.) An image map makes parts (rectangles, circles, or polygons) of an image clickable/linkable to other images or pages.

    I happened to notice that map is one of the html tags we can use so I checked out (my ancient version of) photoshop because I’d come across it a couple of times but had no use for it. I figured out how to do it about a month ago, but didn’t publish anything. So now I tried it again but couldn’t remember what I’d done and couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong (in ImageReady).

    So I found a place online that just gives you the code. The link is on my “secret” page 27. Or here:

    It would be useful on a pictures where you want to explain what or who is in the pic. Flikr (sp??) has something like it. It’s kind of cool that it works on wp.

    Posted by Tess | January 18, 2010, 22:04
  12. Ah I see – thanks! I had no idea we could do that!

    Posted by Panos | January 18, 2010, 22:33
  13. Someone asked about the del tag and you answered so I was re-reading the list of allowed tags so things fell into place.
    That site adds some code that I wouldn’t have added but I didn’t clean it up. I doubt that is a post many people will look at…

    I sent you the turkey story. But maybe I’ll make another off-topic post. It is my blog!

    Posted by Tess | January 18, 2010, 22:41
  14. An example on Connections:
    The horizontal position depends of browser’s window width.
    The vertical position varies a bit depending if you are logged in or logged out.
    The screen capture is a full screen view on a monitor 1280px width (logged out). Browser Firefox, OS Ubuntu.

    The code is:

    Thanks for your helpful blog, Panos!

    Posted by bígaro | February 23, 2010, 18:39
  15. The code …
    <div style=”position:absolute;top:64px;right:269px;”><a href=”” target=”_blank”><img title=”Campaña da coordinadora de ENDL” src=”” width=”186″ height=”134″ /></a>

    Posted by bígaro | February 23, 2010, 18:40
  16. @bígaro:

    a) The w & h commands are needed when you want a resized display; when the image is 186×134 and you want it displayed at 186×134, you don’t need those commands in the code; and you get better quality without them.

    b) “The vertical position varies a bit depending if you are logged in or logged out.” Yes (“a bit” is 28px – the height of the grey admin bar). I’m giving more details here:
    As you can see there, Connections falls in the “Works so so” category.
    You can avoid the vertical displacement by using position:relative instead of position:absolute; for an image in the header area, you’ll need a negative top number.

    c) “The horizontal position depends of browser’s window width.” No. You’re getting that because you used the div code of my general model. For a horizontally fixed element, you need the div code I’m showing in Example 3 of this post:

    div align="center" style="width:100%;top:[etc.]

    Posted by Panos | February 23, 2010, 20:33
  17. Yes, I had read the second part.
    Thanks for your suggestions, I’ll try.

    Posted by bígaro | February 24, 2010, 01:21
  18. Dear Panos,

    Would you tell me how you tested this in all the themes?

    I have been playing around with position relative, but I’m having difficulties understanding how it works. I think I am dyslexic for some things. I’ve lived here for 30+ years and point to Detroit to my left (facing north) because that ‘feels’ right. wrong!!

    I’m thinking that navigating position absolute/relative is like that for me. Perhaps if you explained your method, I could orient myself?

    It took me 45 minutes to make this work:
    because I kept putting numbers backwards…

    Well, it was somewhere between 2 an 3 + a.m. for me. But still, I’m not stupid!!!

    Posted by Tess | February 24, 2010, 04:16
  19. @bígaro: You’re welcome.

    @Tess: What do you mean how I tested this – which “this” in particular?

    “position:absolute;top:npx;” means place element n pixels below whatever the theme considers as the top of the page.
    “position:relative;top:npx;” means place element n pixels below the point where the code is.
    To turn below into above, you need “top:-npx;”.

    Posted by Panos | February 24, 2010, 07:30
  20. Alrighty.
    I suppose I was referring to part 2 where you are discussing where position: absolute works perfectly, well, and so-so, you know: about the testing. But experiment experience reveals all.
    Are these correct:
    “position: absolute;top:1px;” places the element 1 pixel from the top of the container where the code is written.
    “position: absolute;bottom:1px;” places the element 1 pixel from
    A.) the bottom of the theme (as in chaoticsoul)
    B.) the bottom of the container (as in unsleepable)
    C.) in a theme like thirteen, I’m not sure what is going on

    The edit and click thingy-s are cool, but somehow, I kept missing the part about the container.
    The right / left dyslexia, looked at systematically, makes sense when thinking of stage-right and stage-left. One can say my brain has lots of density…

    Posted by Tess | February 24, 2010, 20:47
  21. Are these correct? Don’t know really… I know nothing about webpage design, so I can’t tell exactly what the container in each theme is. All I know is that “position:absolute;bottom” should mean the same in all cases, but in many themes it places the element near the bottom of the browser window instead of the whole page, and that’s wrong, because that’s the job of “position:fixed;bottom”.

    I tested all that empirically: I did “top” first, checked the result for each theme, changed numbers to see what happens, resized browser window to see what happens, scrolled down to see what happens, logged out to see what happens, then the same things for “bottom”…

    “places the element 1 pixel from the top of the container where the code is written” doesn’t sound correct.

    Posted by Panos | February 24, 2010, 22:26
  22. Oh, the container on the w3 schools with their try-this-for-yourself is the frame they have given us to experiment with. Setting the position: absolute works within that frame.

    So in themes like chaotic soul, the container must be designed in such a way that the whole theme is somehow the container? I too don’t know about webpage design—as you know. It’s gotta be some logistical statement (is that the word I mean, theorums/axioms??) that makes the difference. You know, if a + b, then c; vs if a + b must follow rules that we don’t see such as Alpha = hey, I’m out of my depth here. and distracted. Do you get the idea??

    In unsleepable, the container is the post or text widget where the code is placed. Similar to the frame used in the ‘w3schools’ articles.

    GAK. Real live come to the front…

    may could be not should post but

    Posted by Tess | February 24, 2010, 23:13
  23. Yes, apparently in some themes the container is the whole theme, in others it’s the sidebar (that’s why I said “from the top of the container where the code is written” doesn’t sound correct: applies in the second case only).

    Posted by Panos | February 25, 2010, 00:47
  24. sorry, “applies in the second case only”?

    Posted by Tess | February 25, 2010, 02:01
  25. Applies when container = sidebar.

    Posted by Panos | February 25, 2010, 02:36
  26. Hmmm. What am I not seeing? The container seems to be the text widget itself in my example above??

    I’m not meaning to be stupid, stubborn, or blind … but where does the sidebar come in?

    Could this be a case of Emily resting and waiting until I can be more systematic and logical? how to spell ttchcheee…

    Posted by Tess | February 25, 2010, 03:27
  27. ??? Really!
    container = sidebar !

    I saw container = text widget
    and container = post. In unsleepable.

    I thought / think also in chaoticsoul too.

    Posted by Tess | February 25, 2010, 04:25
  28. Ok one more try:

    ChaoticSoul, position:absolute in text widget:

    top:0;left/right:0 = below left/right corner of header, and bottom:0;left/right:0 = above left/right corner of footer. The container is the area between the two horizontal grey bars (not the post).

    Same thing if you put the code in a post.

    Unsleepable, position:absolute in sidebar text widget:

    top:0;left/right:0 = upper left/right corner of sidebar (not widget), and bottom:0;left/right:0 doesn’t work as it should.

    Unsleepable, position:absolute in bottombar text widget:

    bottom:0;left/right:0 = lower left/right corner of bottombar (not widget), and top:0;left/right:0 = upper left/right corner of main theme area (hidden by admin bar if logged in; top:100;left/right:0 = upper left/right corner of white area below header).

    Unsleepable, position:absolute in post:

    top/bottom:0;left/right:0 = four corners of post.

    Posted by Panos | February 25, 2010, 13:24
  29. I completely misspoke about Chaotic Soul. Sorry, I don’t know why I said it!

    The mistake I made with unsleepable, in the widget, was that I’d put only the text widget with the code into the sidebar so it appeared to put the elements only into the corners of the widget. Silly thing to do: of course there should be widgets above and below.
    I didn’t bother with the bottombar: credit to you is in there so I figured I knew about it. Again, silly to make the assumption. Now I’m wondering if there would be some use for a thing that appears on top only on the front page?
    At least I got the part about the post being the container in unsleepable right.

    Thank you for your patience. I have been making incorrect assumptions about how this code works until now. So next time I try to use it, I will be starting from a logical place…

    Posted by Tess | February 25, 2010, 17:29
  30. As of yesterday, now needs the CSS upgrade.

    Posted by Jennifer | April 13, 2010, 08:35
  31. Yeah I saw it – and Matt himself showed up in the forum again, apparently to press the point home:

    I don’t understand the panic, especially since “as of yesterday” and “now” aren’t valid yet

    Posted by Panos | April 13, 2010, 09:08
  32. Hello I am trying to redo the footer on my blog I tried to cover the original footer info but the masked banner thingy shows up in middle of the page. I only want to redo the colors so they match everything else. What do I have to put in the widget of modularity lite to simply mask the orig footer? & of course I will replace the footer with the same info (right colors) into another text widget.

    Thanks again!


    Posted by thefitnessclinician | August 15, 2011, 19:04
  33. Hi Craig,
    You can’t use this trick in ML – see here:

    What you can use is position relative, using a text widget in one of the footer areas. If you need help with that, you must tell me what colors you want (for the plain text and for the link).

    Posted by Panos | August 15, 2011, 19:56
  34. I got it to work…thanks….put absolute bottom for position & that worked like a charms, Thanks! I am trying to see if I can change the colors on the blog page so they conform to the rest of the site (they are a teal blue) I am trying to figure out a way to make them wish me luck! Thanks again.

    Posted by thefitnessclinician | August 15, 2011, 20:49
  35. Ah yes, sorry, absolute also works, provided you put it in the footer area.

    Couple of minor details:
    The font color tag you used is a bit outdated; see here for a more up-to-date way to color the link:
    The #b30009 you used is too orange compared to your header image; try #bf1312.
    And you’re missing a space after the colon!

    As for the blue, you mean change the color of the category tabs, comment tabs etc.? That’s not possible without the paid Custom Design upgrade.

    Posted by Panos | August 15, 2011, 23:10
  36. Thanks! I was thinking how orange it was looking too…thought it was me! lol. I added the space too. Thank you so so much!


    Posted by thefitnessclinician | August 16, 2011, 00:17
  37. Just went back to see my site/blog & the original footer was partially there (different pc). i made some adjustments and it seems fine now..Thank you for your help.

    Posted by thefitnessclinician | August 16, 2011, 00:33
  38. Panos,

    Hi again. Hope you enjoyed your vacation—and being away from the internet. (…smiley here indicating good wishes…)
    Me, being away was good as well, but at the same time there were things I was supposed to get done so being ‘not connected’ was not good.


    Here is the link to my Chateau work-site:
    You can see the royal mess I’ve made: maybe this position absolute stuff just won’t work with with all the differences between browsers, and whether one is logged in or not. And I’d have to go to the library to see what IE might mess up…
    Any advice would be appreciated.

    No rush—with all the new themes I know you are going to be busy: this summer has taught me that none of this stuff is ultimately an emergency.

    Posted by gracie | September 4, 2011, 16:27
  39. a) Adding width=”295″ to the image code will not resize the logo. You need this:
    img style=”width:250px;height:75px;” etc etc.
    But, as you know, it’s better to use an image in the right dimensions instead of resizing it via code.

    b) If you drag the browser window to make it narrower or wider, you’ll see that the logo changes position. In theory, the opening div should be something like this:
    div align=”center” style=”width:100%;top:60px;left:400px;position:absolute;
    But see d below.

    c) Check this:
    Absolutely positioned images in Chateau will drop 28px lower when there’s no admin bar. So:
    1. The “Open to the public” blurb will cover the beginning of the first post.
    2. The logo will hide the grey line that runs above the header image (as the distance between the line and the bottom of the search box is smaller than 28px),

    d) What’s worse, when the browser window or screen resolution is narrower than 900px, the Go button will fall below the search box (so it will no longer be masked by the logo) and the header image will shrink (so the distance between it and the blurb will increase).

    Bottom line: forget logo in place of searchbox, and incorporate the blurb in the header image.

    Posted by Panos | September 4, 2011, 18:44
  40. Thank you.

    I tried raising the logo-link a bit, then signed out. It doesn’t look professional but maybe it will be acceptable. I’m not so much trying to hide the search box: my boss liked seeing the logo up there, by itself—her computer is just like mine so she sees what I see. I should have experimented with it before showing her… (other readers, though: ugh)

    I put the “Open to the public” line into the footer. If anyone cares enough to scroll down, it’s perfectly visible.

    I wonder if I could put it into a sticky post as an aside, a little higher than a normal post? “Featured” would need to be hidden, of course.

    I worry that people don’t read things in the sidebar because that is so commonly used for adverts. I’ve become accustomed to blocking junk off to the side. Because we changed our hours, it’s important that they are prominently displayed.

    Sorry if I’m wasting your time…

    Posted by gracie | September 5, 2011, 00:21
  41. I don’t see why you removed width:100% from my suggestion in b above: without it the result is not “acceptable”.

    Since this theme is designed to shrink, it’s very difficult if not impossible to hide “Featured” for good. As I suggested, if you want that line below the header image, make it part of the header image.

    Posted by Panos | September 5, 2011, 04:10
  42. And I just noticed you’ve got a typo in the tagline!

    Posted by Panos | September 5, 2011, 04:13
  43. Oh.

    other than that mrs. lincoln how was the play

    well, I give up. So sorry to have bothered you.

    gag, I had so many different versions, well the 100% got lost…
    well, 100% is lost on me:
    It didn’t look that good anyway… did it? would it…

    Sorry. I fixed the typo no one else noticed before this! Lots of people checked it. gak.

    Thanks for your time.

    I can’t have that line in the header image because, well, because the times open to the public could change again soon. Maybe I’m too fixated on that.

    I’ll just go with it, w/o modifications.

    Posted by gracie | September 5, 2011, 04:47
  44. “So sorry to have bothered you.”
    I thought it was clear that we both like to help and we both like to play with these tricks!

    “I can’t have that line in the header image because, well, because the times open to the public could change again soon.”
    You mean you could but you suddenly became lazy!

    Posted by Panos | September 5, 2011, 14:47
  45. Thank you.

    Distracted, disconcerted, disoriented, depressed, disinclined to not have my own way, disgusted, in disaccord with everyone, generally disagreeable, and even disrespectful, yes.
    I needed a dope slap to get me going again.

    Special thanks for seeing the typo: it had been there for months!

    The 100% though, now I remember why it didn’t work (sorry I did get into a tiz) so I tried other things and lost it. Now horizontal scroll bar in Safari and FireFox makes it difficult to view the site. Do you see that as well, or is it just my computer? Should give up on that one, don’t you think?

    Best to you.

    Posted by gracie | September 6, 2011, 05:22
  46. So many dis’s? Don’t believe you!

    Re the typo, sometimes the glaring mistakes are the hardest to spot, because you skim over them and only see what you think you’ve written. I can still remember a booklet on a series of concerts I had once worked on: we worked with the DTP specialist for more than a week, improving and correcting every tiny little insignificant detail, and it was only after the first concert that we both noticed a huge bold heading that went “CHAMER MUSIC”…

    Scrollbar is due to the 100%. But the 100% is the only way to fix the thing horizontally. It’s a no-win situation (because the theme shrinks), so yes I think you should give up on that (had said so from the start).

    Posted by Panos | September 6, 2011, 17:07
  47. Dis is so (well, was so): me reading the dictionary. Never the less, a snapshot of me in that moment:

    and of you dope-slapping:

    Re the typo, yes glaringly obvious things deceive by way of our own expectations. You have seen those pictures where the words say “this is red” “this is blue” “this is yellow” but the font is colored differently from what the words say—how confusing they are?

    So you teach obscure Chamer Music? LOL.
    (btw, what is DTP?)

    My bad typo memory is from back in high school when I was coerced into making a huge banner for a sports team (basketball? was our team on a winning streak? No matter now, but it was a big deal then—I never followed sports activities). The name of the team was “Gladiators” and they wanted a banner to put up on the court. I got a couple of friends to help make the 30 foot long banner: I’d penciled in the letters and we all inked in the name with brushes. It took maybe a week and we had fun, the two boys and me. Well. They hung the sign and took it down immediately: we had made a bit of a mistake: “Gaydiators.”


    I’ve really tried since then not to make typos.

    re the scrollbar problem. Rats
    I’ll let my boss look again and try to make her see it. It will be okay.


    Posted by gracie | September 7, 2011, 17:25
  48. Dis- and dis- and dis- equalling “prickly poison” I understand. But “dope slapping” equalling “wave soothing rock”? Hardly!

    Anyway, I said I didn’t believe you because my impression was that the dis’s were written to enjoy the virtuosity of stringing them together rather than express a grave situation.

    Gaydiators? Ouch – mustn’t have been very amusing to jocks, I guess…

    DTP means desktop publishing. The specialist I mentioned is an amazing person I’m very fond of. She’s an expert in design etc. (presently art director for several leading magazines), and an expert on Macs. An amusing anecdote about her is that once she was baffled about a problem with her computer, called our local Apple service, they were baffled too, told her that only one person could help her, and gave her her own phone number!

    Posted by Panos | September 8, 2011, 13:04
  49. Oh that’s funny.

    Maybe you or she could help me with this: I’m helping my sil set up a blog and she can’t find the original artwork for the logo she wants in the header so I’ll have to try to reproduce it. I don’t know what font the person used to make it. It’s on the top right of this page:

    oops. soothing should have been smoothing, as in waves pounding rocks smooth.

    Posted by gracie | September 8, 2011, 16:34
  50. Won’t the original do?

    Posted by Panos | September 8, 2011, 20:13


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