Key Takeaways

  • Case Sensitivity Matters: Default CSS attribute selectors are case-sensitive. Use the ‘i’ flag for case-insensitive matching.
  • Beyond Values: Target elements simply by the presence of an attribute, regardless of its value.
  • Relational Targeting: CSS selectors let you style elements based on their position within the HTML hierarchy (parent, child, sibling).
  • Pseudo-classes for Interaction and State: Use pseudo-classes like :hover:focus:checked to style elements based on user interactions or input states.
  • Pseudo-elements for Detail: Target specific parts within elements (e.g., ::first-line::before) for fine-grained styling.

Unlock the power of CSS to style your web pages with expert precision. Learn how to target elements using attribute selectors, relational selectors, pseudo-classes, and more.

Optimize your CSS for flexibility and maintainability.

CSS Case Sensitivity Considerations (and an Option)

Most attribute selectors in CSS are case-sensitive by default. However, there’s a handy way to make them case-insensitive: include the ‘i’ flag within the selector.

Example: Styling PDF Links (Case-Insensitive)

Want to style all links to PDFs, regardless of how “.pdf” is capitalized? Here’s how:


a[href$='.PDF' i] { font-weight: bold; } 

Key Points

  • The Power of ‘i’: This flag tells the selector to ignore case differences within the attribute value.
  • Universality: You can use the ‘i’ flag with all attribute selectors we’ve discussed.

Important Note: Attribute Names Remain Case-Sensitive

While the ‘i’ flag makes attribute values case-insensitive, it doesn’t apply to attribute names in case-sensitive languages (like XML). Let’s illustrate with ‘type’:


planet[type*="rock" i]  /* Will match: */ 
<planet type="barren rocky">Mercury</planet> 
 <planet type="Rock">Earth</planet> 

/* Will NOT match: */
<planet TYPE="dusty rock">Mars</planet> 

Good to Know: HTML’s Case-Insensitivity

This distinction is less relevant in HTML, which is case-insensitive.

Beyond ‘i’: The ‘s’ Flag (Limited Support)

An opposite flag, ‘s’, exists to enforce case sensitivity. However, browser support is limited as of early 2023.

Attribute Selectors Without Values

Did you know you can target elements that simply have a specific attribute, regardless of its value? Let’s see how this works:

Example: Styling Images with Alt Text

To emphasize the importance of image accessibility, let’s style all images that have the ‘alt’ attribute (signifying the presence of alternative text):


img[alt] { border: 3px solid green; } 

How it Works

  • Focusing on Existence: This selector targets any <img> element with an ‘alt’ attribute, whether it’s empty or has a value.

Use Cases

  • Highlighting Specific Features: Emphasize elements that have a particular attribute, even if its value varies.
  • Accessibility Encouragement: Use this technique to promote good practices like including alt text for images.

Combining with Other Selectors

You can get even more granular by combining this technique with other selectors. For example:


form input[type="text"] { background-color: lightyellow; } 

This rule would specifically highlight text input fields within forms.

Key Points

  • Beyond Values: Target elements based on the mere presence of an attribute.
  • Accessibility Focus: A great way to visually reinforce best practices.

CSS Relational Selectors: Targeting by Family Ties

CSS provides ways to target elements based on how they’re positioned within your HTML structure. Think of them like family relationships:

1. Descendant Selectors (Space)

  • Syntax: ancestor descendant
  • Targets: Any descendant (children, grandchildren, etc.) of the specified ancestor.
  • Example: Styling Nav Links:


nav a { color: blue; }  /* Styles ALL links within navigation menus */

2. Child Selectors ( > )

  • Syntax: parent > child
  • Targets: Direct children only, not deeper descendants.
  • Example: Styling Top-Level List Items


ul > li { margin-bottom: 15px; } /* Styles only immediate list items within <ul> */

3. Adjacent Sibling Selectors (+)

  • Syntax: element1 + element2
  • Targets: The second element only if it immediately follows the first.
  • Example: Formatting Paragraphs After Headings


h2 + p { font-size: 1.1em; } /* Styles paragraphs directly after <h2>  */

Key Points

  • Context is Key: These selectors focus on the relationships between elements.
  • Specificity: Offer precise control over which elements are styled.

Unlocking Dynamic Styling with CSS Pseudo-classes

Pseudo-classes act like special filters for your selectors. They let you target elements based on their current state, interactions, and more. Here are some common types:

1. User Interaction States

  • :hover: Styles elements when the mouse hovers over them.
  • :active: Styles elements the moment they’re clicked or activated.
  • :focus: Styles elements when they receive keyboard focus.

Example: Enhancing Link Interactions


a:hover { text-decoration: underline; } /* Adds underline on hover */
a:active { color: red; }  /* Turns links red when clicked */
a:focus { outline: 2px dotted blue; } /* Adds focus outline for accessibility */

2. Structural Pseudo-classes

  • :first-of-type:last-of-type: Targets the first or last element of its type within its parent.
  • :nth-of-type(n): Similar to :nth-child but specific to an element type.

Example: Highlighting the First Blog Post


article:first-of-type { border: 3px solid orange; padding: 1em;} 

Key Points

  • Interactivity: Create engaging experiences with state-based styling.
  • Accessibility Boost: The :focus pseudo-class is crucial for keyboard navigation.
  • Structural Control: Precisely target elements based on their position within the HTML.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *