Fix for Internet Explorer 6 duplicate characters bug


Internet Explorer 6 or any other version has been and still is every Web Developer’s nightmare when it comes to designing even the most basic CSS for a website. Fortunately, with the release of Internet Explorer 8, most of the IE6’s past bugs have been fixed and slowly, but sure, Microsoft is getting Internet Explorer on the right path.

My first encounter with one of the “popular” bugs of IE6 is called duplicate characters bug. The bug is present when dealing with multiple floating elements divided by more than one comment line and it manifests itself by multiplying characters from the last floated element underneath the element itself. The bug also appears when any of the elements has the property display: none;.

I’ll make a small example with a box (container) containing 3 other floating boxes (first, second, third) with text in them. Some characters from the box third will duplicate and appear under the third box. The CSS content of my stylesheet is:

And the content of the html file is:

The result should be 3 vertical boxes with text in them surrounded by one big rectangle. As you can see in Internet Explorer higher than 6 or Firefox there are no problems.

Internet Explorer 7 or higher

Internet Explorer 7 or higher

But in Internet Explorer 6 some characters (in this example the last 2 characters from the Third box) will duplicate outside the last floating box in the rectangular box. Notice if you try to select the duplicated characters, the original text will be selected instead of the intended text.

Internet Explorer 6

Internet Explorer 6

Luckily there are several fixes / workarounds for the duplicate characters bug that can be easily applied. One of them is to set to the last floating element (in our case the third box) with margin-right: -3px; (or 3px for elements floating right) . Another fix is to use the conditional comments for IE, like this:

Sometimes you can use the property display: inline; at the box preceding the comments as a solution, if it doesn’t conflict with design.
A more detailed description of the bug and examples can be found on the page and Adrian Pelletier’s page.

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  • barkeeper42 says:

    IE6 must die! Report companies forcing their emplyees to use that buggy thing:


    September 3, 2009 at 8:19 pm
  • Tomita Militaru says:

    Great idea!Fortunately its going down, but still a whopping 13% presence on the browser market.

    P.S.: Welcome on the Ropardo Team blog!

    September 4, 2009 at 9:02 am
  • great experience, dude! thanks for this great

    Articles wow… it’s very wonderful report.

    June 14, 2010 at 1:24 am
  • great share, great article, very usefull for me…thank


    June 16, 2010 at 9:57 pm
  • Silvia says:

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    September 22, 2010 at 7:12 pm

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