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The content CSS property is used with the ::before and ::after pseudo-elements to generate content in an element. Objects inserted using the content property are anonymous replaced elements.

/* Keywords that cannot be combined with other values */
content: normal;
content: none;

/* <string> value, non-latin characters must be encoded */
/* e.g. \00A0 for &nbsp; */
content: "prefix";

/* <url> value */
content: url("http://www.example.com/test.png");

/* <counter> values */
content: counter(chapter_counter);
content: counters(section_counter, ".");

/* attr() value linked to the HTML attribute value */
content: attr(value string);

/* Language- and position-dependent keywords */
content: open-quote;
content: close-quote;
content: no-open-quote;
content: no-close-quote;

/* Except for normal and none, several values */
/* can be used simultaneously */
content: open-quote chapter_counter;

/* Global values */
content: inherit;
content: initial;
content: unset;

Initial valuenormal
Applies to::before and ::after pseudo-elements
Inheritedno
Mediaall
Computed valueOn elements, always computes to normal. On ::before and ::after, if normal is specified, computes to none. Otherwise, for URI values, the absolute URI; for attr() values, the resulting string; for other keywords, as specified.
Animation typediscrete
Canonical orderthe unique non-ambiguous order defined by the formal grammar

Syntax

Values

none
The pseudo-element is not generated.
normal
Computes to none for the ::before and ::after pseudo-elements.
<string>
One or more text characters.
<url>
A URL that designates an external resource (such as an image). If the resource can't be displayed, it is either ignored or a placeholder is shown.
<counter>
The value of a CSS counter, generally a number. It can be displayed using either the counter() or counters() function.

The counter() function has two forms: 'counter(name)' or 'counter(name, style)'. The generated text is the value of the innermost counter of the given name in scope at the given pseudo-element. It is formatted in the specified style (decimal by default).

The counters() function also has two forms: 'counters(name, string)' or 'counters(name, string, style)'. The generated text is the value of all counters with the given name in scope at the given pseudo-element, from outermost to innermost, separated by the specified string. The counters are rendered in the indicated style (decimal by default).

attr(x)
The value of the element's attribute x as a string. If there is no attribute x, an empty string is returned. The case-sensitivity of attribute names depends on the document language.
open-quote | close-quote
These values are replaced by the appropriate string from the quotes property.
no-open-quote | no-close-quote
Introduces no content, but increments (decrements) the level of nesting for quotes.

Formal syntax

normal | none | [ <content-replacement> | <content-list> ] [/ <string> ]?

where
<content-replacement> = <image>
<content-list> = [ <string> | contents | <image> | <quote> | <target> | <leader()> ]+

where
<image> = <url> | <image()> | <image-set()> | <element()> | <cross-fade()> | <gradient>
<quote> = open-quote | close-quote | no-open-quote | no-close-quote
<target> = <target-counter()> | <target-counters()> | <target-text()>
<leader()> = leader( <leader-type> )

where
<image()> = image( [ [ <image> | <string> ]? , <color>? ]! )
<image-set()> = image-set( <image-set-option># )
<element()> = element( <id-selector> )
<cross-fade()> = cross-fade( <cf-mixing-image> , <cf-final-image>? )
<gradient> = <linear-gradient()> | <repeating-linear-gradient()> | <radial-gradient()> | <repeating-radial-gradient()>
<target-counter()> = target-counter( [ <string> | <url> ] , <custom-ident> , <counter-style>? )
<target-counters()> = target-counters( [ <string> | <url> ] , <custom-ident> , <string> , <counter-style>? )
<target-text()> = target-text( [ <string> | <url> ] , [ content | before | after | first-letter ]? )
<leader-type> = dotted | solid | space | <string>

where
<color> = <rgb()> | <rgba()> | <hsl()> | <hsla()> | <hex-color> | <named-color> | currentcolor | <deprecated-system-color>
<image-set-option> = [ <image> | <string> ] <resolution>
<cf-mixing-image> = <percentage>? && <image>
<cf-final-image> = <image> | <color>
<linear-gradient()> = linear-gradient( [ <angle> | to <side-or-corner> ]? , <color-stop-list> )
<repeating-linear-gradient()> = repeating-linear-gradient( [ <angle> | to <side-or-corner> ]? , <color-stop-list> )
<radial-gradient()> = radial-gradient( [ <ending-shape> || <size> ]? [ at <position> ]? , <color-stop-list> )
<repeating-radial-gradient()> = repeating-radial-gradient( [ <ending-shape> || <size> ]? [ at <position> ]? , <color-stop-list> )
<counter-style> = <counter-style-name> | symbols()

where
<rgb()> = rgb( [ [ <percentage>{3} | <number>{3} ] [ / <alpha-value> ]? ] | [ [ <percentage>#{3} | <number>#{3} ] , <alpha-value>? ] )
<rgba()> = rgba( [ [ <percentage>{3} | <number>{3} ] [ / <alpha-value> ]? ] | [ [ <percentage>#{3} | <number>#{3} ] , <alpha-value>? ] )
<hsl()> = hsl( [ <hue> <percentage> <percentage> [ / <alpha-value> ]? ] | [ <hue>, <percentage>, <percentage>, <alpha-value>? ] )
<hsla()> = hsla( [ <hue> <percentage> <percentage> [ / <alpha-value> ]? ] | [ <hue>, <percentage>, <percentage>, <alpha-value>? ] )
<side-or-corner> = [ left | right ] || [ top | bottom ]
<color-stop-list> = <color-stop>#{2,}
<ending-shape> = circle | ellipse
<size> = closest-side | farthest-side | closest-corner | farthest-corner | <length> | <length-percentage>{2}
<position> = [[ left | center | right | top | bottom | <length-percentage> ] | [ left | center | right | <length-percentage> ] [ top | center | bottom | <length-percentage> ] | [ center | [ left | right ] <length-percentage>? ] && [ center | [ top | bottom ] <length-percentage>? ]]
<counter-style-name> = <custom-ident>

where
<alpha-value> = <number> | <percentage>
<hue> = <number> | <angle>
<color-stop> = <color> <length-percentage>?
<length-percentage> = <length> | <percentage>

Examples

Headings and quotes

This example inserts quotation marks around quotes, and adds the word "Chapter" before headings.

HTML

<h1>5</h1>
<p>According to Sir Tim Berners-Lee,
  <q cite="http://www.w3.org/People/Berners-Lee/FAQ.html#Internet">I was
    lucky enough to invent the Web at the time when the Internet
    already existed - and had for a decade and a half.</q>
  We must understand that there is nothing fundamentally wrong
  with building on the contributions of others.
</p>

<h1>6</h1>
<p>According to the Mozilla Manifesto,
  <q cite="http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/about/manifesto/">Individuals
    must have the ability to shape the Internet and
    their own experiences on the Internet.</q>
  Therefore, we can infer that contributing to the open web
  can protect our own individual experiences on it.
</p>

CSS

q {
  color: blue;
}

q::before {
  content: open-quote;
}

q::after {
  content: close-quote;
}

h1::before  {
  content: "Chapter ";  /* The trailing space creates separation
                           between the added content and the
                           rest of the content */
}

Result

Image combined with text

This example inserts an image before the link. If the image is not found, it inserts text instead.

HTML

<a href="http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/">Mozilla Home Page</a>

CSS

a::before {
  content: url("https://mozorg.cdn.mozilla.net/media/img/favicon.ico") " MOZILLA: ";
  font: x-small Arial, sans-serif;
  color: gray;
}

Result

Targeting classes

This example inserts additional text after special items in a list.

HTML

<h2>Paperback Best Sellers</h2>
<ol>
  <li>Political Thriller</li>
  <li class="new-entry">Halloween Stories</li>
  <li>My Biography</li>    
  <li class="new-entry">Vampire Romance</li>
</ol>

CSS

.new-entry::after {
  content: " New!";  /* The leading space creates separation
                        between the added content and the
                        rest of the content */
  color: red;
}

Result

Images and element attributes

This example inserts an image before each link, and adds its id attribute after.

HTML

<ul>
  <li><a id="moz" href="http://www.mozilla.org/">
    Mozilla Home Page</a></li>
  <li><a id="mdn" href="https://developer.mozilla.org/">
    Mozilla Developer Network</a></li>
</ul>

CSS

a {
  text-decoration: none;
  border-bottom: 3px dotted navy;
}

a::after {
  content: " (" attr(id) ")";
}

#moz::before {
  content: url("https://mozorg.cdn.mozilla.net/media/img/favicon.ico") ;
}

#mdn::before {
  content: url("https://mdn.mozillademos.org/files/7691/mdn-favicon16.png") ;
}

li {
  margin: 1em;
}

Result

Specifications

Specification Status Comment
CSS Generated Content Module Level 3
The definition of 'content' in that specification.
Working Draft  
CSS Level 2 (Revision 1)
The definition of 'content' in that specification.
Recommendation Initial definition

Browser compatibility

Feature Chrome Edge Firefox (Gecko) Internet Explorer Opera Safari (WebKit)
Basic support 1.0 (Yes) 1.0 (1.7 or earlier) 8.0 4.0 1.0
url() support 1.0 ? 1.0 (1.7 or earlier) 8.0 7.0 1.0
Feature Android Edge Firefox Mobile (Gecko) IE Phone Opera Mobile Safari Mobile
Basic support 1.0 (Yes) 1.0 (1.0) 8.0 9.5 1.0
url() support ? ? ? ? ? ?

Quantum CSS notes

  • Gecko has a bug whereby the ::before and ::after pseudo-elements are still generated even if the content property value is set to normal or none. As per spec, they shouldn't be (bug 1387931). This has been fixed in Firefox's new parallel CSS engine (also known as Quantum CSS or Stylo, planned for release in Firefox 57).

See also