Add scroll margin to all elements which can be targeted


We can add an extra bit of space to targeted elements, thanks to modern CSS!

You can target an element with HTML by giving it an id then in the URL bar, adding a reference to that id, prefixed with a #, like so:

Code language
<h2 id="my-lovely-heading">Hello</h2>
Code language

With this set up, the browser will automatically scroll the user to that targeted element. It’s why you often find this pattern in long-form writing, such as on this site. What’s been problematic in the past though, is that targeted element will be flush to the top of the viewport when the browser has finished scrolling—not ideal.

Luckily, CSS has our back with scroll-margin-top. A pro tip is to add this to all elements with an id in your project.

Code language
[id] {
  scroll-margin-top: 2ex;

The extra fancy part is by using 2ex, we use the x-height of the chosen font and its size, twice. Handy! You can read more about these sort of units, here.

An extra bonus pro tip is to style the targeted element with the :target pseudo-class and use some native smooth scrolling, just like I did in the below demo 👇

Hello, I’m Andy and I’ll help you build fast, accessible websites & design systems.

I’m a freelance CSS and design systems consultant, based in the UK. I specialise in design systems and creative web design, such as landing pages and campaign work.

I’m currently helping Google by refactoring the CSS and creating a design system for, but I have availability for projects such as small websites, landing pages and consultancy. I will have full availability for larger projects in January 2022.

Hire me