Friday April 23, 2021 By David Quintanilla
A Guide To Newly Supported, Modern CSS Pseudo-Class Selectors — Smashing Magazine

About The Creator

Stephanie Eckles is a front-end targeted SWE at Microsoft. She’s additionally the creator of ModernCSS.dev which offers trendy options to outdated CSS issues as in-depth …
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The CSS Working Group Editor’s Draft for Selectors Level 4 contains a number of pseudo-class selectors that have already got proposal candidates in most trendy browsers. This information will cowl ones that at present have one of the best help together with examples to reveal how one can begin utilizing them in the present day!

Pseudo-class selectors are those that start with the colon character “:” and match primarily based on a state of the present factor. The state could also be relative to the doc tree, or in response to a change of state resembling :hover or :checked.

Though defined in Selectors Level 4, this pseudo-class has had cross-browser support for fairly a while. The any-link pseudo-class will match an anchor hyperlink so long as it has a href. It can match in a means equal to matching each :hyperlink and :visited without delay. Basically, this will cut back your types by one selector in case you are including primary properties resembling shade that you simply’d like to use to all hyperlinks no matter their visited standing.

:any-link {
  shade: blue;
  text-underline-offset: 0.05em;

An essential observe about specificity is that :any-link will win towards a as a selector even when a is positioned decrease within the cascade because it has the specificity of a category. Within the following instance, the hyperlinks can be purple:

:any-link {
  shade: purple;

a {
  shade: pink;

So for those who introduce :any-link, bear in mind that you will want to incorporate it on situations of a as a selector if they are going to be in direct competitors for specificity.


I’d guess that probably the most widespread accessibility violations throughout the online is eradicating define on interactive parts like hyperlinks, buttons, and type inputs for his or her :focus state. One of many major functions of that define is to function a visible indicator for customers who primarily use keyboards to navigate. A visual focus state is important as a way-finding software as these customers tab throughout an interface and to assist reinforce what’s an interactive factor. Particularly, the seen focus is roofed within the WCAG Success Criterion 2.4.11: Focus Appearance (Minimum).

The :focus-visible pseudo-class is meant to solely present a spotlight ring when the person agent determines by way of heuristics that it needs to be seen. Put one other means: browsers will decide when to use :focus-visible primarily based on issues like enter technique, sort of factor, and context of the interplay. For testing functions by way of a desktop laptop with keyboard and mouse enter, you must see :focus-visible types hooked up once you tab into an interactive factor however not once you click on it, except textual content inputs and textareas which ought to present :focus-visible for all focus enter varieties.

Notice: For extra particulars, overview the working draft of the :focus-visible spec.

The most recent variations of Firefox and Chromium browsers appear to now be dealing with :focus-visible on type inputs based on the spec which says that the UA ought to take away :focus types when :focus-visible matches. Safari isn’t but supporting :focus-visible so we have to guarantee a :focus model is included as a fallback to keep away from eradicating the define for accessibility.

Given a button and textual content enter with the next set of types, let’s see what occurs:

button:focus {
  define: 2px stable blue;
  outline-offset: 0.25em;

enter:focus-visible {
  define: 2px stable clear;
  border-color: blue;

button:focus:not(:focus-visible) {
  define: none;

button:focus-visible {
  define: 2px stable clear;
  box-shadow: 0 0 0 2px #fff, 0 0 0 4px blue;

Chromium and Firefox

  • enter
    Accurately take away :focus types when parts are targeted by way of mouse enter in favor of :focus-visible leading to altering the border-color and hiding the define on keyboard enter
  • button
    Doesn’t solely use :focus-visible with out the additional rule for button:focus:not(:focus-visible) that removes the define on :focus, however will permit visibility of the box-shadow solely on keyboard enter


  • enter
    Continues utilizing solely the :focus types
  • button
    This appears to now be partially respecting the intent of :focus-visible on the button by hiding the :focus types on click on, however nonetheless displaying the :focus types on keyboard interplay

So for now, the advice could be to proceed together with :focus types after which progressively improve as much as utilizing :focus-visible which the demo code permits. Right here’s a CodePen so that you can proceed testing with:

See the Pen [Testing application of :focus-visible](https://codepen.io/smashingmag/pen/MWJZbew) by Stephanie Eckles.

See the Pen Testing application of :focus-visible by Stephanie Eckles.


The :focus-within pseudo-class has help amongst all trendy browsers, and acts virtually like a mother or father selector however just for a really particular situation. When hooked up to a containing factor and a toddler factor matches for :focus, types may be added to the containing factor and/or another parts throughout the container.

A sensible enhancement to make use of this conduct for is styling a type label when the related enter has focus. For this to work, we wrap the label and enter in a container, after which connect :focus-within to that container in addition to deciding on the label:

.form-group:focus-within label {
  shade: blue;

This leads to the label turning blue when the enter has focus.

This CodePen demo additionally contains including a top level view on to the .form-group container:

See the Pen [Testing application of :focus-within](https://codepen.io/smashingmag/pen/xxgmREq) by Stephanie Eckles.

See the Pen Testing application of :focus-within by Stephanie Eckles.


Also referred to as the “matches any” pseudo-class, :is() can take an inventory of selectors to attempt to match towards. For instance, as an alternative of itemizing heading types individually, you’ll be able to group them beneath the selector of :is(h1, h2, h3).

A few distinctive behaviors in regards to the :is() selector checklist:

  • If a listed selector is invalid, the rule will proceed to match the legitimate selectors. Given :is(-ua-invalid, article, p) the rule will match article and p.
  • The computed specificity will equal that of the handed selector with the very best specificity. For instance, :is(#id, p) can have the specificity of the #id — 1.0.0 — whereas :is(p, a) can have a specificity of 0.0.1.

The primary conduct of ignoring invalid selectors is a key profit. When utilizing different selectors in a bunch the place one selector is invalid, the browser will throw out the entire rule. This comes into play for just a few situations the place vendor prefixes are nonetheless obligatory, and grouping prefixed and non-prefixed selectors causes the rule to fail amongst all browsers. With :is() you’ll be able to safely group these types and they’ll apply after they match and be ignored after they don’t.

To me, grouping heading types as beforehand talked about is already an enormous win with this selector. It’s additionally the kind of rule that I’d really feel comfy utilizing with no fallback when making use of non-critical types, resembling:

:is(h1, h2, h3) {
  line-height: 1.2;

:is(h2, h3):not(:first-child) {
  margin-top: 2em;

On this instance (which comes from the document styles in my project SmolCSS), having the better line-height inherited from base types or missing the margin-top isn’t actually an issue for non-supporting browsers. It’s merely lower than ideally suited. What you wouldn’t wish to use :is() for fairly but could be important format types resembling Grid or Flex that considerably management your interface.

Moreover, when chained to a different selector, you’ll be able to take a look at whether or not the bottom selector matches a descendent selector inside :is(). For instance, the next rule selects solely paragraphs which might be direct descendants of articles. The common selector is getting used as a reference to the p base selector.

p:is(article > *)

For the best current support, for those who’d like to start out utilizing it you’ll additionally wish to double-up on types by together with duplicate guidelines utilizing :-webkit-any() and :matches(). Bear in mind to make these particular person guidelines, and even the supporting browser will throw it out! In different phrases, embody the entire following:

:matches(h1, h2, h3) { }

:-webkit-any(h1, h2, h3) { }

:is(h1, h2, h3) { }

Value mentioning at this level is that together with the newer selectors themselves is an up to date variation of @helps which is @helps selector. That is additionally obtainable as @helps not selector.

Notice: At current (of the trendy browsers), solely Safari doesn’t help this at-rule.

You possibly can verify for :is() help with one thing like the next, however you’d truly be dropping out on supporting Safari since Safari helps :is() however doesn’t help @helps selector.

@helps selector(:is(h1)) {
  :is(h1, h2, h3) {
    line-height: 1.1;

:the place()

The pseudo-class :the place() is nearly equivalent to :is() aside from one important distinction: it’ll at all times have zero-specificity. This has unbelievable implications for people who’re constructing frameworks, themes, and design programs. Utilizing :the place(), an creator can set defaults and downstream builders can embody overrides or extensions with out specificity clashing.

Take into account the next set of img types. Utilizing :the place(), even with a better specificity selector, the specificity stays zero. Within the following instance, which shade border do you suppose the picture can have?

:the place(article img:not(:first-child)) {
    border: 5px stable pink;

:the place(article) img {
  border: 5px stable inexperienced;

img {
  border: 5px stable orange;

The primary rule has zero specificity since its wholly contained inside :the place(). So straight towards the second rule, the second rule wins. Introducing the img element-only selector because the final rule, it’s going to win because of the cascade. It’s because it’ll compute to the identical specificity because the :the place(article) img rule for the reason that :the place() portion doesn’t enhance specificity.

Utilizing :the place() alongside fallbacks is a bit more tough because of the zero-specificity characteristic since that characteristic is probably going why you’d need to make use of it over :is(). And for those who add fallback guidelines, these are prone to beat :the place() because of its very nature. And, it has higher general help than the @helps selector so attempting to make use of that to craft a fallback isn’t probably to supply a lot (if any) of a achieve. Mainly, concentrate on the lack to accurately create fallbacks for :the place() and punctiliously verify your personal knowledge to find out if it’s protected to start utilizing on your distinctive viewers.

You’ll be able to additional take a look at :the place() with the next CodePen that makes use of the img selectors from above:

See the Pen [Testing `:where()` specificity](https://codepen.io/smashingmag/pen/jOyXVMg) by Stephanie Eckles.

See the Pen Testing :where() specificity by Stephanie Eckles.

Enhanced :not()

The bottom :not() selector has been supported since Web Explorer 9. However Selectors Stage 4 enhances :not() by permitting it to take a selector checklist, identical to :is() and :the place().

The next guidelines present the identical lead to supporting browsers:

article :not(h2):not(h3):not(h4) {
  margin-bottom: 1.5em;

article :not(h2, h3, h4) {
  margin-bottom: 1.5em;

The power of :not() to just accept a selector checklist has great modern browser support.

As we noticed with :is(), enhanced :not() can even include a reference to the bottom selector as a descendent utilizing *. This CodePen demonstrates this potential by deciding on hyperlinks which might be not descendants of nav.

See the Pen [Testing :not() with a descendent selector](https://codepen.io/smashingmag/pen/BapvQQv) by Stephanie Eckles.

See the Pen Testing :not() with a descendent selector by Stephanie Eckles.

Bonus: The earlier demo additionally contains an instance of chaining :not() and :is() to pick photos that aren’t adjoining siblings of both h2 or h3 parts.

Proposed however “in danger” — :has()

The ultimate pseudo-class that could be a very thrilling proposal however has no present browser implementing it even in an experimental means is :has(). The truth is, it’s listed within the Selector Level 4 Editor’s Draft as “at-risk” which implies that it’s acknowledged to have difficulties in finishing its implementation and so it might be dropped from the advice.

If applied, :has() would basically be the “mother or father selector” that many CSS people have longed to have obtainable. It will work with logic just like a mixture of each :focus-within and :is() with descendent selectors, the place you’re in search of the presence of descendants however the utilized styling could be to the mother or father factor.

Given the next rule, if navigation contained a button, then the navigation would have decreased high and backside padding:

nav {
  padding: 0.75rem 0.25rem;

nav:has(button) {
  padding-top: 0.25rem;
  padding-bottom: 0.25rem;

Once more, that is not at present applied in any browser even experimentally — however it’s enjoyable to consider! Robin Rendle supplied additional insights into this future selector over on CSS-Tips.

Honorable Point out from Stage 3: :empty

A helpful pseudo-class you might have missed from Selectors Stage 3 is :empty which matches a component when it has no youngster parts, together with textual content nodes.

The rule p:empty will match <p></p> however not <p>Whats up</p>.

A technique you should use :empty is to cover parts which might be maybe placeholders for dynamic content material that’s populated with JavaScript. Maybe you’ve a div that can obtain search outcomes, and when it’s populated it’ll have a border and a few padding. However with no outcomes but, you don’t need it to take up house on the web page. Utilizing :empty you’ll be able to disguise it with:

.search-results:empty {
  show: none;

It’s possible you’ll be serious about including a message within the empty state and be tempted so as to add it with a pseudo-element and content material. The pitfall right here is that messages might not be obtainable to customers of assistive know-how that are inconsistent on whether or not they can entry content material. In different phrases, to be sure a “no outcomes” sort of message is accessible, you’d wish to add that as an actual factor like a paragraph (an aria-label would not be accessible for a hidden div).

Sources for Studying About Selectors

CSS has many extra selectors inclusive of pseudo-classes. Listed here are just a few extra locations to study extra about what’s obtainable:

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