CSS subgrid

CSS grid is a very powerful layout engine, but the row and column tracks created on a parent grid can only be used to position direct children of the grid container. Any author defined named grid areas and lines were lost on any other element than a direct child. With subgrid, track sizing, templates and names can be shared with nested grids. This article explains how it works.

Before subgrid, content was often hand tailored to avoid ragged layouts like this one.

Three cards are shown side by side, each with three bits of content:
header, paragraph and link. Each are of a different text length, creating some
awkward alignments in the cards as they sit next to each other.

After subgrid, aligning the variably sized content is possible.

Three cards are shown side by side, each with three bits of content:
header, paragraph and link. Each are of a different text length, but subgrid has
fixed the alignments by allowing the tallest of each content item to set the row
height, fixing any alignment issues.

Browser Support

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Subgrid basics

Here is a straightforward use case introducing the basics of CSS subgrid. A grid is defined with two named columns, the first is 20ch wide and the second is "the rest" of the space 1fr. The column names aren't required but they're great for illustrative and educational purposes.

.grid {
  display: grid;
  gap: 1rem;
  grid-template-columns: [column-1] 20ch [column-2] 1fr;

Then, a child of that grid, spans those two columns, is set as a grid container, and adopts the columns of its parent by setting grid-template-columns to subgrid.

.grid > .subgrid {
  grid-column: span 2;

  display: grid;
  grid-template-columns: subgrid; /* 20ch 1fr */
A screenshot of the CSS grid DevTools, showing two columns side by side with a name at the start of their column line.

That's it, a parent grid's columns have been effectively passed down a level to a subgrid. This subgrid can now assign children to either of those columns.

Challenge! Repeat the same demo but do it for grid-template-rows.

Share a page level "macro" grid

Designers often work with shared grids, drawing lines over an entire design, aligning any element they want to it. Now web developers can too! This exact workflow can now be achieved, plus many more.

From macro grid to finished design. Grid named areas are created upfront and later components are placed as desired.

Implementing the most common designer grid workflow can provide excellent insights into the capabilities, workflows, and potentials of subgrid.

Here's a screenshot taken from Chrome DevTools of a mobile page layout macro grid. The lines have names and there are clear areas for component placement.

screenshot from Chrome CSS grid DevTools showing a mobile sized grid layout
where rows and columns are named for quick identification: fullbleed,
system-status, primary-nav, primary-header, main, footer and system-gestures.

The following CSS creates this grid, with named rows and columns for the device layout. Each row and column has a size.

.device {
    display: grid;
      [system-status] 3.5rem
      [primary-nav] 3rem
      [primary-header] 4rem
      [main] auto
      [footer] 4rem
      [system-gestures] 2rem
    grid-template-columns: [fullbleed-start] 1rem [main-start] auto [main-end] 1rem [fullbleed-end];

Some additional styles give the following design.

Same CSS DevTools grid overlay as before, but this time with some of the
mobile system UI present, some shadows and a little color. Helps see where the
design is going.

Inside this parent, are various nested elements. The design requires a full width image under the nav and header rows. The furthest left and right column line names are fullbleed-start and fullbleed-end. Naming grid lines this way enables children to align to each simultaneously with the placement shorthand of fullbleed. It's very convenient as you'll soon see.

zoomed in screenshot of the grid overlay from DevTools, focusing specifically on
the fullbleed-start and fullbleed-end column names.

With the overall device layout created with nice named rows and columns, use subgrid to pass the well named rows and columns to nested grid layouts. This is that subgrid magic moment. The device layout passes the named rows and columns to the app container, which then passes it on to every one of its children.

.device > .app,
.app > * {
    display: grid;
    grid: subgrid / subgrid;

    /* same as */
    grid-template-rows: subgrid;
    grid-template-columns: subgrid;

CSS subgrid is a value used in place of a list of grid tracks. The rows and columns the element is spanning from its parent, are now the same rows and columns it offers. This makes the line names from the .device grid available to children of .app, instead of only .app. Elements inside of .app were not able to reference the grid tracks created by .device before subgrid.

With this all defined, the nested image is now able to go full bleed in the layout thanks to subgrid. No negative values or tricks, instead a nice one-liner that says “my layout spans from fullbleed-start to fullbleed-end.”

.app > main img {
    grid-area: fullbleed;
The finished macro layout, complete with a full width nested image sitting properly undeath the primary nav and header rows and extending to each of the fullbleed named column lines.

There you have it, a macro grid like designers use, implemented in CSS. This concept can scale and grow with you as needed.

Check for support

Progressive enhancement with CSS and subgrid is familiar and straightforward. Use @supports and inside the parenthesis ask the browser if it understands subgrid as a value for template columns or rows. The following example checks if the grid-template-columns property supports the subgrid keyword, which if true, means that subgrid can be used

@supports (grid-template-columns: subgrid) {
  /* safe to enhance to */


Chrome, Edge, Firefox and Safari all have great CSS grid DevTools, and Chrome, Edge and Firefox have specific tools for helping with subgrid. Chrome announced their tools in 115 while Firefox has had them for a year or more.

Screenshot preview of the subgrid badge found on elements in the Elements

The subgrid badge acts like the grid badge but visually distinguishes which grids are subgrids and which aren't.


This list is a compilation of subgrid articles, demos and overall inspiration for getting started. If you're looking for the next step for your subgrid education, have fun exploring all these great resources!