::first-letter (:first-letter)

The ::first-letter CSS pseudo-element applies styles to the first letter of the first line of a block-level element, but only when not preceded by other content (such as images or inline tables).

Try it

The first letter of an element is not always trivial to identify:

  • Punctuation that precedes or immediately follows the first letter is included in the match. Punctuation includes any Unicode character defined in the open (Ps), close (Pe), initial quote (Pi), final quote (Pf), and other punctuation (Po) classes.
  • Some languages have digraphs that are always capitalized together, like the IJ in Dutch. In these cases, both letters of the digraph should be matched by the ::first-letter pseudo-element.
  • A combination of the ::before pseudo-element and the content property may inject some text at the beginning of the element. In that case, ::first-letter will match the first letter of this generated content.

Note: CSS introduced the ::first-letter notation (with two colons) to distinguish pseudo-classes from pseudo-elements. For backward compatibility, browsers also accept :first-letter, introduced earlier.

Browser support for digraphs such as IJ in Dutch is poor. Check the compatibility table below to see the current state of support.

Allowable properties

Syntax

::first-letter

Examples

Simple drop cap

In this example we will use the ::first-letter pseudo-element to create a simple drop cap effect on the first letter of the paragraph coming right after the <h2>.

HTML

<h2>My heading</h2>
<p>
  Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consetetur sadipscing elitr, sed diam nonumy
  eirmod tempor invidunt ut labore et dolore magna aliquyam erat, sed diam
  voluptua. At vero eos et accusam et justo duo dolores et ea rebum. Stet clita
  kasd gubergren, no sea takimata sanctus est.
</p>
<p>
  Duis autem vel eum iriure dolor in hendrerit in vulputate velit esse molestie
  consequat.
</p>

CSS

p {
  width: 500px;
  line-height: 1.5;
}

h2 + p::first-letter {
  color: white;
  background-color: black;
  border-radius: 2px;
  box-shadow: 3px 3px 0 red;
  font-size: 250%;
  padding: 6px 3px;
  margin-right: 6px;
  float: left;
}

Result

Effect on special punctuation and non-Latin characters

This example illustrates the effect of ::first-letter on special punctuation and non-Latin characters.

HTML

<p>
  Duis autem vel eum iriure dolor in hendrerit in vulputate velit esse molestie
  consequat.
</p>
<p>-The beginning of a special punctuation mark.</p>
<p>_The beginning of a special punctuation mark.</p>
<p>"The beginning of a special punctuation mark.</p>
<p>'The beginning of a special punctuation mark.</p>
<p>*The beginning of a special punctuation mark.</p>
<p>#The beginning of a special punctuation mark.</p>
<p>「特殊的汉字标点符号开头。</p>
<p>《特殊的汉字标点符号开头。</p>
<p>"特殊的汉字标点符号开头。</p>

CSS

p::first-letter {
  color: red;
  font-size: 150%;
}

Result

Specifications

Specification
Unknown specification
# first-letter-pseudo

Browser compatibility

BCD tables only load in the browser

See also