Browsers Targeted: Internet Explorer 3+
It’s fairly easy to confuse the Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) properties display and visibility, because it would seem that they do much the same thing. However, the two properties are in fact quite different. The visibility property determines whether a given element is visible or not (visibility=”visible|hidden”). However, when visibility is set to hidden, the element being hidden still occupies its same place in the layout of the page.
This example displays text that toggles between a visibility of 'visible' and 'hidden'. Note the behavior of the next line.This second line shouldn't move, since visibility retains its position in the flow
Note that when an item is hidden, it doesn’t receive events. Thus in the sample code, the first sentence never detects that there has been a mouse click once the item is hidden, so you can’t click the area to make it visible again. The display property, on the other hand, works a little differently. Where visibility hides the element but keeps its flow position, display actually sets the flow characteristic of the element. When display is set to block, for example, everything within the containing element is treated as a separate block and is dropped into the flow at that point as if it were a
Click on the blue text to see how it affects the flow.
Notice that if the display property is not explicitly set, it defaults to the display type the element normally has. Of the two, the display property is definitely the more useful, as most instances of needing to hide text also involve shifting the surrounding HTML flow to accommodate it (think tree structures, as an example).