Replaced Elements

A replaced element is any element whose appearance and dimensions are defined by an external resource. Examples include images (<img> tags), plugins (<object> tags), and form elements (<button>, <textarea>, <input>, and <select> tags). All other elements types can be referred to as non-replaced elements.

Replaced elements can have intrinsic dimensions—width and height values that are defined by the element itself, rather than by its surroundings in the document. For example, if an image element has a width set to auto, the width of the linked image file will be used. Intrinsic dimensions also define an intrinsic ratio that’s used to determine the computed dimensions of the element should only one dimension be specified. For example, if only the width is specified for an image element—at, say, 100px—and the actual image is 200 pixels wide and 100 pixels high, the height of the element will be scaled by the same amount, to 50px.

Replaced elements can also have visual formatting requirements imposed by the element, outside of the control of CSS; for example, the user interface controls rendered for form elements.

In an inline formatting context, you can also think of a replaced element as being one that acts as a single, big character for the purposes of wrapping and layout. A width and height can be specified for replaced inline elements, in which case the height of the line box in which the element is positioned is made tall enough to accommodate the replaced element, including any specified box properties.

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