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CSS Pseudo-elements


What are Pseudo-Elements?

A CSS pseudo-element is used to style specified parts of an element.

For example, it can be used to:

  • Style the first letter, or line, of an element
  • Insert content before, or after, the content of an element

Syntax

The syntax of pseudo-elements:

selector::pseudo-element {
    property:value;
}

The ::first-line Pseudo-element

The ::first-line pseudo-element is used to add a special style to the first line of a text.

The following example formats the first line of the text in all <p> elements:

Example 

p::first-line {
    color: hotpink;
    font-variant: small-caps;
}

Note: The ::first-line pseudo-element can only be applied to block-level elements.

The following properties apply to the ::first-line pseudo-element:

  • font properties
  • color properties
  • background properties
  • word-spacing
  • letter-spacing
  • text-decoration
  • vertical-align
  • text-transform
  • line-height
  • clear

The ::first-letter Pseudo-element

The ::first-letter pseudo-element is used to add a special style to the first letter of a text.

The following example formats the first letter of the text in all <p> elements: 

Example

p::first-letter {
    color: hotpink;
    font-size: xx-large;
}
Try it yourself »

Note: The ::first-letter pseudo-element can only be applied to block-level elements.

The following properties apply to the ::first-letter pseudo- element: 

  • font properties
  • color properties 
  • background properties
  • margin properties
  • padding properties
  • border properties
  • text-decoration
  • vertical-align (only if "float" is "none")
  • text-transform
  • line-height
  • float
  • clear

Pseudo-elements and CSS Classes

Pseudo-elements can be combined with CSS classes: 

Example

p.intro::first-letter {
    color: hotpink;
    font-size:200%;
}
Try it yourself »

The example above will display the first letter of paragraphs with class="intro", in yellow and in a larger size.


Multiple Pseudo-elements

Several pseudo-elements can also be combined.

In the following example, the first letter of a paragraph will be yellow, in an xx-large font size. The rest of the first line will be blue, and in small-caps. The rest of the paragraph will be the default font size and color:

Example

p::first-letter {
    color: hotpink;
    font-size: xx-large;
}

p::first-line {
    color: #0000ff;
    font-variant: small-caps;
}
Try it yourself »

CSS - The ::before Pseudo-element

The ::before pseudo-element can be used to insert some content before the content of an element.

The following example inserts an image before the content of each <h1> element:

Example

h1::before {
    content: url(W1-icon.png);
}
Try it yourself »

CSS - The ::after Pseudo-element

The ::after pseudo-element can be used to insert some content after the content of an element.

The following example inserts an image after the content of each <h1> element:

Example

h1::after {
    content: url(W1-icon.png);
}
Try it yourself »

CSS - The ::selection Pseudo-element

The ::selection pseudo-element matches the portion of an element that is selected by a user.

The following CSS properties can be applied to ::selection: color, background, cursor, and outline.

The following example makes the selected text yellow on a green background:

Example

::selection {
    color: yellow;
    background: green;
}
Try it yourself »

All CSS Pseudo Elements

There are five pseudo elements in CSS, each starting with a double colon (::):

Selector Example Example description
::after p::after Insert something after the content of each <p> element
::before p::before Insert something before the content of each <p> element
::first-letter p::first-letter Selects the first letter of each <p> element
::first-line p::first-line Selects the first line of each <p> element
::selection p::selection Selects the portion of an element that is selected by a user