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The CSS box model is a term thrown around in CSS with very little context, but is probably the most fundamental things you can know in CSS. The box model determines the size, margin, and padding of any object on the page. It also refers to the weird way CSS handles 'inline' and 'block' content. In HTML, every element creates a box, such as span and p, which is in line with text. Block elements have a fixed width and height, while inline elements are within lines of text, meaning content floating beside them.