Using the :target pseudo-class in selectors

When a URL points at a specific piece of a document, it can be difficult for the user to notice. Find out how you can use some simple CSS to draw attention to the target of a URL and improve the user's experience.

Picking a Target

The pseudo-class :target is used to style the target element of a URL containing a fragment identifier. For example, the URL contains the fragment identifier #reference. In HTML, identifiers are found as the values of either id or name attributes, since the two share the same namespace. Thus, the example URL would point to the heading "reference" in that document.

Suppose you wish to style any h2 element that is the target of a URL, but do not want any other kind of element to get a target style. This is simple enough:

h2:target {
  outline: 2px solid;

It's also possible to create styles that are specific to a particular fragment of the document. This is done using the same identifying value that is found in the URI. Thus, to add a background color to the #reference fragment, we would write:

#reference:target {
  background-color: yellow;

Targeting all elements

If the intent is to create a "blanket" style that will apply to all targeted elements, then the universal selector comes in handy:

:target {
  color: red;


In the following example, there are five links that point to elements in the same document. Selecting the "First" link, for example, will cause <h1 id="one"> to become the target element. Note that the document may jump to a new scroll position, since target elements are placed on the top of the browser window if possible.

<h4 id="one"></h4>
<p id="two"></p>
<div id="three"></div>
<a id="four"></a> <em id="five"></em>

<a href="#one">First</a>
<a href="#two">Second</a>
<a href="#three">Third</a>
<a href="#four">Fourth</a>
<a href="#five">Fifth</a>


In cases where a fragment identifier points to a portion of the document, readers may become confused about which part of the document they're supposed to be reading. By styling the target of a URI, reader confusion can be reduced or eliminated.

See also