The <custom-ident> CSS data type denotes an arbitrary user-defined string used as an identifier. It is case-sensitive, and certain values are forbidden in various contexts to prevent ambiguity.


The syntax of <custom-ident> is similar to CSS identifiers (such as property names), except that it is case-sensitive. It consists of one or more characters, where characters can be any of the following:

  • any alphabetical character (A to Z, or a to z),
  • any decimal digit (0 to 9),
  • a hyphen (-),
  • an underscore (_),
  • an escaped character (preceded by a backslash, \),
  • a Unicode character (in the format of a backslash, \, followed by one to six hexadecimal digits, representing its Unicode code point)

Note that id1, Id1, iD1, and ID1 are all different identifiers as they are case-sensitive.

Escaping characters

Any Unicode code point can be included as part of a <custom-ident> or quoted <string> by escaping it.

In CSS, there are several ways to escape a character. Escape sequences start with a backslash (\), and continue with:

  • One to six hex (ABCDEF0123456789) digits. The hex digits can optionally be followed by white space. The hex escape sequence gets replaced by the Unicode code point whose value is given by those digits. The whitespace allows the sequences to be followed by actual hex digits (versus replaced ones).
  • Any Unicode code point that is not a hex digit or a newline character.


  • "&B" can be written as \26 B or \000026B.
  • "hi.there" can be written as hi\.there or hi\002Ethere.
  • "toto?" can be written as toto\?, toto\3F, or toto\00003F.

To include actual white space after an escape sequence, include two white spaces in the escape sequence.

Forbidden values

A <custom-ident> must not be placed between single or double quotes as this would be identical to a <string>. Moreover, the first character must not be a decimal digit, nor a hyphen (-) followed by a decimal digit.

To prevent ambiguity, each property that uses <custom-ident> forbids the use of specific values:


Forbids the global CSS values (unset, initial, and inherit), as well as none.

counter-reset, counter-increment

Forbids the global CSS values (unset, initial, and inherit), as well as none.

@counter-style, list-style-type

Forbids the global CSS values (unset, initial, and inherit), as well as the values:

  • none
  • inline
  • outside

Also, quite a few predefined values are implemented by the different browsers:

  • disc
  • circle
  • square
  • decimal
  • cjk-decimal
  • decimal-leading-zero
  • lower-roman
  • upper-roman
  • lower-greek
  • lower-alpha
  • lower-latin
  • upper-alpha
  • upper-latin
  • arabic-indic
  • armenian
  • bengali
  • cambodian
  • cjk-earthly-branch
  • cjk-heavenly-stem
  • cjk-ideographic
  • devanagari
  • ethiopic-numeric
  • georgian
  • gujarati
  • gurmukhi
  • hebrew
  • hiragana
  • hiragana-iroha
  • japanese-formal
  • japanese-informal
  • kannada
  • katakana
  • katakana-iroha
  • khmer
  • korean-hangul-formal
  • korean-hanja-formal
  • korean-hanja-informal
  • lao
  • lower-armenian
  • malayalam
  • mongolian
  • myanmar
  • oriya
  • persian
  • simp-chinese-formal
  • simp-chinese-informal
  • tamil
  • telugu
  • thai
  • tibetan
  • trad-chinese-formal
  • trad-chinese-informal
  • upper-armenian
  • disclosure-open
  • disclosure-close
grid-row-start, grid-row-end, grid-column-start, grid-column-end

Forbids the span value.


Forbids the global CSS values (unset, initial, and inherit), as well as none.


Forbids the global CSS values (unset, initial, and inherit), as well as the values will-change, auto, scroll-position, and contents.


Valid identifiers

nono79            A mix of alphanumeric characters and numbers
ground-level      A mix of alphanumeric characters and a dash
-test             A dash followed by alphanumeric characters
_internal         An underscore followed by alphanumeric characters
\22 toto          A Unicode character followed by a sequence of alphanumeric characters
bili\.bob         A correctly escaped period

Invalid identifiers

34rem             It must not start with a decimal digit.
-12rad            It must not start with a dash followed by a decimal digit.
bili.bob          Only alphanumeric characters, _, and - needn't be escaped.
'bilibob'         This would be a <string>.
"bilibob"         This would be a <string>.


CSS Values and Units Module Level 4
# custom-idents
CSS Will Change Module Level 1
# valdef-will-change-custom-ident
CSS Counter Styles Level 3
# typedef-counter-style-name
CSS Lists and Counters Module Level 3
# counter-properties

Browser compatibility

As this type is not a real type but a convenience type used to simplify the description of allowed values, there is no browser compatibility information as such.

See also