Universal selectors

The CSS universal selector (*) matches elements of any type.

/* Selects all elements */
* {
  color: green;

Universal selectors can be namespaced when using @namespace. This is useful when dealing with documents containing multiple namespaces such as HTML5 with inline SVG or MathML, or XML that mixes multiple vocabularies.

  • ns|* - matches all elements in namespace ns
  • *|* - matches all elements
  • |* - matches all elements without any declared namespace


* { style properties }

The asterisk is optional with simple selectors. For instance, *.warning and .warning are equivalent.



* [lang^=en] {
  color: green;

*.warning {
  color: red;

*#maincontent {
  border: 1px solid blue;

.floating {
  float: left

/* automatically clear the next sibling after a floating element */
.floating + * {
  clear: left;


<p class="warning">
  <span lang="en-us">A green span</span> in a red paragraph.
<p id="maincontent" lang="en-gb">
  <span class="warning">A red span</span> in a green paragraph.



In this example the selector will only match elements in the example namespace.

@namespace example url(http://www.example.com);
example|* { color: blue }


Specification Status Comment
Selectors Level 4
The definition of 'universal selector' in that specification.
Working Draft No changes
Selectors Level 3
The definition of 'universal selector' in that specification.
Recommendation Defines behavior regarding namespaces and adds hint that omitting the selector is allowed within pseudo-elements
CSS Level 2 (Revision 1)
The definition of 'universal selector' in that specification.
Recommendation Initial definition

Browser compatibility

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See also