Make Your Content Look More Interesting With CSS Shapes

The float area is a box, so the text can’t wrap itself around the real circle.

Now we’ve seen it in action, how does CSS shapes work?

CSS shapes is a set of rules for wrapping content around custom shapes and path. It does not actually draw the shape, but rather gives instructions to the browser on what the float area looks like (We can still draw the shape using the clip-path CSS property, this feature just isn’t part of CSS Shapes). Currently it only works when paired with a float property (in the future, with the help of CSS Exclusions, it will be possible to do so without it). Also, it’s not possible to wrap text from both sides of a shape.

  • shape-outside
  • shape-image-threshold
  • shape-margin


The shape-outside CSS property defines a shape around which adjacent inline content should wrap. By default, inline content wraps around its margin box; by accepting different functions, shape-outside provides a way to customize this wrapping.

  • circle()
  • polygon() —The polygon() function allows you to “go crazy” and create any kind of shape. It gets as an argument, a list of at least 3 coordinates. This, for example, is how you would create a simple 5 pointed star:
  • url() — With this function you can create dynamic float borders from an image. It only supports png/gif/svg formats thought. Also note that you need the actual image present as an <img> tag for it to work.


When using shape-outside along with an image value (using the url() function), the shape-image-threshold property is used to adjust the minimum opacity level of pixels that will be used to create the shape. Its value must be in the range between 0 and 1.


If the shape you created with shape-outside is too close to the text, you can adjust its margin from the content using this property.

Browser Support

Unfortunately CSS shapes level 1 is not supported by IE11 and not even by Edge, however support from other browsers is not too bad! You can still make your page look better on these, and just let them fallback to the old behavior on non supported browsers, or you can use a polyfill, created by Adobe.

Future Features

Currently we can only float text around shapes, but when CSS Shapes level 2 hit the shelves, we will get a new feature called “shape-inside”, which will let us put text inside shapes!


We learned that we can break the limits we were previously set, and by using some simple CSS, make our web pages more interesting to look at! I really hope this little article will inspire you to test these neat features :)



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Sveta Slepner

Sveta Slepner

Senior Frontend developer @Cloudinary and an avid gamer