Padding vs Margin: Difference and Comparison

In design or print media, one normally expects creativity to flow freely so that whatever is created can be beautifully illustrated and displayed.

However, like all things, certain laws and rules are to be followed and some terms that one needs to know to get things going correctly.

Two of the most commonly used and easily two of the most confusing terms are padding and margin. They both are used in designing interfaces, and they both are used to create a gap. Then where do they differ?

Key Takeaways

  1. Padding and margin are both CSS properties used to adjust the spacing of elements on a webpage.
  2. Padding is the space between its content and border, whereas margin is the space outside an element between its border and the adjacent elements.
  3. Padding is used to increase the internal space of an element, while margin is used to control the layout of elements on the page, such as setting the distance between adjacent elements.

Padding vs Margin

Padding is the space between the content of an element and its border. It creates space within an element and is measured in pixels, ems, or other length units. Margin means the space between an element’s border and the next element on the page. It creates space between elements and is measured in pixels, ems, or other length units.

Padding vs Margin

Education Quiz

Test your knowledge about topics related to education

1 / 10

Which of the following is a type of visual art?

2 / 10

Dianne has the above-average mental ability, but she is poorly motivated in class. That is why she has low grades in her academic performance. Is she?

3 / 10

What is GPA used for?

4 / 10

Who wrote the novel "Great Expectations"?

5 / 10

What is the main difference between a public and a private university?

6 / 10

Who painted the famous artwork “The Starry Night”?

7 / 10

Who is the author of the famous novel "Pride and Prejudice"?

8 / 10

What is the main purpose of a liberal arts education?

9 / 10

What is the study of the physical universe called?

10 / 10

What is the study of government and political systems called?

Your score is


Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonPaddingMargin
DefinitionMargin refers to the space between the outside part of the layout and the border.Margin refers to space between the outside part of the layout and the border.
AutomationPadding can not be auto.Margin can be set to auto.
Background ColorPadding is affected by any internal styling element.Margin is not affected by any internal styling element.
Numerical ValueThe values for padding can only be positive real numbers.Values for margins can be any integer.
LocationPadding deals with the internal aspect of the document.Margin deals with the external aspect of the document.

What is Padding?

Padding refers to the space between the border of a design or a text and the inner elements of that design or text. Padding is present on all sides of the element, which is why four types of padding are handled while using the design interface.

They are left padding, right padding, top padding, and bottom padding. The exact names of these terms might change from interface to interface, but their main purpose remains the same.

In this case, it is important to note that these directions are denoted by the user, not the design element or text. The top and bottom paddings would have remained the same if they had been kept that way. However, the ones on the sides would have reversed.

It is also important to note that padding has nothing to do with the thickness of the border of the document or element and that the border’s thickness is a property of its own, having its values, which can be altered.

Padding is always calculated when the total width of an item is to be determined. Hence, the designer needs to keep this in mind.

This, however, is not important if the designer plans on working with images that have a transparent background because, in those cases, these images will just fit anywhere, thus making the padding irrelevant.

Padding is a part of the design, and its colours, designs, and gradients can be manipulated as per the requirements of the user. Leaving the padding with a bland colour, or just white, while the rest of the design is outstanding would bring down the appeal of the overall design. 

Since this needs to be precise, hence paddings can not be set to auto and are manually adjusted by the designer to fine-tune it to the custom requirements of the design.


What is Margin?

Margin is the space between the border of a document, design, or text to the external part of the design interface. It means the area starting from the outer portion of the border to anywhere the sheet goes the border.

However, if any second ‘external’ border exists, the margin space becomes a padding region. However, such cases are rare and are not in much use. Double margins are mostly used in intricate designs to separate the working area from the outer part properly.

Since the margin covers four sides, there are four types of margins. They are the left margin, the right margin, the top margin, and the bottom margin. This is similar to the naming of the paddings, and the names can change from interface to interface.

Also, these directions, just like padding, are user-centric. The padding determines the design’s size by extending or compressing the internal area of the design. Similarly, margins also determine the internal element’s size, especially when it’s related to typography.

If the value of the margin increases, then the line length will decrease, and if the margin length decreases, this results in an increase in line length. They are inversely related.

Margins can be set to auto; generally, the software determines how much margin gap should be left for the document to make it look neat and presentable.

Usually, in the case of designs, once the design is exported, it would seem that the margin did not have a noticeable impact, at least as much as the paddings did.


Main Difference Between Padding and Margin

  1. The main difference between padding and margin is that padding refers to the inner space between the border and the element, while margin refers to the other space from the border to the end of the workspace.
  2. Padding can not be set to auto, while margin can.
  3. Inner styling effects affect padding, while they do not affect margins.
  4. Padding can only have real numbers as values, while margins can have any integer as a value.
  5. Padding deals with the internal aspect of a document, while margins deal with the external aspects.

Last Updated : 14 October, 2023

dot 1
One request?

I’ve put so much effort writing this blog post to provide value to you. It’ll be very helpful for me, if you consider sharing it on social media or with your friends/family. SHARING IS ♥️

22 thoughts on “Padding vs Margin: Difference and Comparison”

  1. Avatar of Stacey Roberts
    Stacey Roberts

    I didn’t know the difference between padding and margin before reading this article, it’s very educational.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Want to save this article for later? Click the heart in the bottom right corner to save to your own articles box!