Why don't flex items shrink past content size?

Flexbox is a powerful layout module in CSS that allows you to create flexible and responsive layouts. It provides a lot of flexibility in how you can distribute space and align items within a container. However, when it comes to shrinking flex items, there are some nuances that you need to be aware of.

Understanding the Problem

When you have a flex container with multiple flex items, the flex property determines how the available space is distributed among the items. By default, the flex property is set to 0 1 auto, which means that the flex item can grow, but it cannot shrink beyond its natural size.

In your case, when you set a large font size for the text in one of the flex items, it causes the item to become wider than expected. This is because the flex item is taking up the minimum space required to accommodate its content, as specified by its flex-basis property.

Even if you try to set word-break: break-word to prevent the text from overflowing, the flex item will still not shrink smaller than the width required to fit one letter per line.

Possible Solutions

There are a few different approaches you can take to solve this issue, depending on your specific requirements:

1. Adjust font size and padding

One simple solution is to adjust the font size and padding of the flex item so that it fits within the desired width. By reducing the font size and adding padding, you can prevent the text from overflowing and ensure that the flex item shrinks properly.

            .flex-item {
                font-size: 12px;
                padding: 5px;

2. Use flex-shrink property

The flex-shrink property allows you to control how much an item can shrink relative to the other flex items in the container. By default, the flex-shrink value is set to 1, which means that all flex items will shrink proportionally. If you want certain items to shrink more or less than others, you can adjust the flex-shrink value accordingly.

            .flex-item {
                flex-shrink: 2;

3. Use min-width or max-width

You can also use the min-width or max-width property to explicitly set a minimum or maximum width for a flex item. This can prevent the item from shrinking beyond a certain point or expanding beyond a certain point.

            .flex-item {
                min-width: 100px;
                max-width: 200px;


Flexbox is a great tool for building flexible and responsive layouts, but it can be tricky to deal with flex items that have large or variable content sizes. By understanding how the flex property works and using the right techniques, you can ensure that your flex items shrink and expand properly.