How To Use Grid Auto Flow in Tailwind CSS

Creating a grid layout with Tailwind CSS is straightforward and efficient, thanks to its utility-first approach. One of the features you can leverage is the grid-auto-flow property, which controls how auto-placed items are inserted in the grid. In this article, we’ll explore how to use grid-auto-flow with Tailwind CSS, ensuring you can handle your grid layouts like a pro.

Understanding Grid Auto Flow

Before diving into Tailwind specifics, let’s understand what grid-auto-flow does. The CSS Grid Layout Module offers this property to define the algorithm that automatically places grid items that are not explicitly placed in the grid layout. The property can take the following values:

  • row: Places items by filling each row in turn, adding new rows as necessary.
  • column: Places items by filling each column in turn, adding new columns as necessary.
  • dense: Attempts to fill in holes earlier in the grid layout if smaller items come up later.

Setting Up Tailwind CSS

To use grid-auto-flow in Tailwind, you must have Tailwind CSS installed in your project. If you haven’t already set up Tailwind CSS, you can follow the official installation guide.

Using Grid Auto Flow in Tailwind CSS

Tailwind provides utility classes for grid-auto-flow, making it easy to apply to your HTML elements. Here’s how you can use them:

Grid Auto Flow Row

To lay out your grid items in a row-by-row fashion, you can use the .grid-flow-row class.

<div class="grid grid-flow-row gap-4">
  <!-- Your grid items here -->

Grid Auto Flow Column

For a column-by-column layout, use the .grid-flow-col class.

<div class="grid grid-flow-col gap-4">
  <!-- Your grid items here -->

Grid Auto Flow Dense

If you want the grid to fill in holes with smaller items that come later, use the .grid-flow-dense class.

<div class="grid grid-flow-dense gap-4">
  <!-- Your grid items here -->

Responsive Design with Grid Auto Flow

Tailwind CSS excels in creating responsive designs. You can apply different grid-auto-flow classes at various breakpoints. For example, if you want a row-based flow on small screens and a column-based flow on medium screens and up, you can write:

<div class="grid grid-flow-row md:grid-flow-col gap-4">
  <!-- Your grid items here -->

Customizing Grid Auto Flow in Tailwind CSS

Tailwind allows you to customize your configuration file (tailwind.config.js) to extend the default behavior. If you need to add custom grid auto-flow utilities, you can do so by adding them to the theme.extend section:

// tailwind.config.js
module.exports = {
  theme: {
    extend: {
      gridAutoFlow: {
        'custom-flow': 'row dense',

After extending your configuration, you can use the new utility class like so:

<div class="grid grid-flow-custom-flow gap-4">
  <!-- Your grid items here -->

Best Practices

When using grid-auto-flow in Tailwind, consider the following best practices:

  • Content Awareness: Choose the flow direction based on your content and how you want it to be presented.
  • Responsive Design: Always test your grid layouts on different screen sizes to ensure a seamless user experience.
  • Customization: Only extend Tailwind with custom utilities if the default set doesn’t meet your needs, to keep your CSS bundle size small.


Tailwind CSS’s utility-first approach makes it a breeze to work with CSS grid layouts, including the grid-auto-flow property. By using the provided utility classes, you can quickly and effectively control the placement of your grid items. Remember to customize responsibly and always keep an eye on the responsiveness of your layouts.

For more advanced grid layout techniques and best practices, you can refer to the CSS Grid Layout guide on MDN. Happy styling!


What do you think?