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As you know from your study of HTML, elements can have attributes that give further detail about the element being marked up. In CSS you can use attribute selectors to target elements with certain attributes. This lesson will show you how to use these very useful selectors.
|Prerequisites:||Basic computer literacy, basic software installed, basic knowledge of working with files, HTML basics (study Introduction to HTML), and an idea of how CSS works (study CSS first steps.)|
|Objective:||To learn what attribute selectors are and how to use them.|
Presence and value selectors
These selectors enable the selection of an element based on the presence of an attribute alone (for example
href), or on various different matches against the value of the attribute.
||Matches elements with an attribute name of attr — the value in square brackets.|
||Matches elements with an attribute name of attr whose value is exactly value — the string inside the quotes.|
Matches elements with an attribute name of attr whose value is exactly value, or elements with an attr attribute containing one or more values, at least one of which matches value.
Note that in a list of multiple values the separate values are whitespace-separated.
||Matches elements with an attribute name of attr whose value can be exactly value or can begin with value immediately followed by a hyphen.|
In the example below you can see these selectors being used.
- By using
li[class]we can match any selector with a class attribute. This matches all but the first list item.
li[class="a"]matches a selector with a class of
a, but not a selector with a class of
awith another space-separated class as part of the value. It selects the second list item.
li[class~="a"]will match a class of
abut also a value that contains the class of
aas part of a whitespace-separated list. It selects the second and third list items.
Substring matching selectors
These selectors allow for more advanced matching of substrings inside the value of your attribute. For example, if you had classes of
box-error and wanted to match everything that started with the string "box-", you could use
[class^="box-"] to select them both.
||Matches elements with an attribute name of attr whose value has the substring value at the start of it.|
||Matches elements with an attribute name of attr whose value has the substring value at the end of it.|
||Matches elements with an attribute name of attr whose value contains at least one occurrence of the substring value anywhere within the string.|
The next example shows usage of these selectors:
li[class^="a"]matches any attribute value which starts with
a, so matches the first two list items.
li[class$="a"]matches any attribute value that ends with
a, so matches the first and third list item.
li[class*="a"]matches any attribute value where
aappears anywhere in the string, so it matches all of our list items.
If you want to match attribute values case-insensitively you can use the value
i before the closing bracket. This flag tells the browser to match ASCII characters case-insensitively. Without the flag the values will be matched according to the case-sensitivity of the document language — in HTML's case it will be case sensitive.
In the example below, the first selector will match a value that begins with
a — it only matches the first list item because the other two list items start with an uppercase A. The second selector uses the case-insensitive flag and so matches all of the list items.
Note: There is also a newer value
s, which will force case-sensitive matching in contexts where matching is normally case-insensitive, however this is less well supported in browsers and isn't very useful in an HTML context.
Try it out
In the live example below, add CSS using attribute selectors to do the following:
- Target the
<a>element with a
titleattribute and make the border pink (
- Target the
<a>element with an
hrefattribute that contains the word
contactsomewhere in its value and make the border orange (
- Target the
<a>element with an
hrefvalue starting with
httpsand give it a green border (
Note: You can take a look at the solution here — but try to figure it out yourself first!
Now we are done with attribute selectors, you can continue on to the next article and read about pseudo-class and pseudo-element selectors.
In this module
- Cascade and inheritance
- CSS selectors
- The box model
- Backgrounds and borders
- Handling different text directions
- Overflowing content
- Values and units
- Sizing items in CSS
- Images, media, and form elements
- Styling tables
- Debugging CSS
- Organizing your CSS