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6 powerful CSS selectors that will really help you write clean CSS

Published 6 months ago 3 min readTraduire en francais

Selectors in CSS are used to pick elements and style it. They can be very powerful following which one we use. In this post, i will lead you through 6 powerful CSS selectors that will really help you write clean CSS on your next project.

1. div > a

This selector will enable us to select all a elements where the parent element is a div tag.

<!-- This one will be selected --> 
<div>
    <a></a>
</div>

<!-- This one won't be selected -->
<p>
    <a></a>
</p>

2. div + a

This one will select every a tags placed immediately after a div element. If we have an element between the div and the a tag, that element won't be selected.

<main>
<!-- This one will be selected -->
    <div></div>
    <a></a>
<!-- This one won't be selected -->
    <div></div>
    <p></p>
    <a></a>
</main>

3. div ~ a

This one will select every a tag preceded by a div element on the same level. In other words, if the a tag is not immediately preceded by a div element, but has a div tag as a sibling element, that element will be selected.

<main>
<!-- This one will be selected -->
    <div></div>
    <a></a>
<!-- This one will be selected -->
    <div></div>
    <p></p>
    <a></a>
    <section>
<!-- This one will be selected -->
    <div></div>
    <p></p>
    <a></a>
    </section>

    <footer>
<!-- This one won't be selected -->
    <p></p>
    <a></a>
    </footer>
</main>

4. [attribute^=value]

e.g: [class^="list-"] This selector will pick every element that contains a class attribute and which its value begins with list-

<main>
<!-- This one will be selected -->
    <div class="list-element"></div>
<!-- This one will be selected -->
    <div class="list-container"></div>
<!-- This one will be selected -->
    <div class="list-item"></div>
<!-- This one won't be selected -->
    <div class="list__footer"></div>
</main>

5. [attribute$=value]

e.g: [src$=".png"] This one will select every src attribute which its value ends with .png.

<div>
<!-- This one will be selected -->
    <img src="image1.png">
<!-- This one will be not selected -->
    <img src="image2.jpg">
<!-- This one will be selected -->
    <img src="image3.png">
<!-- This one won't be selected -->
    <img src="image4.svg">
</div>

6. [attribute*=value]

e.g: [class*="-list"] This selector will pick every element whose class attribute contains -list. It does not matter if -list is at the beginning, the middle or at the end of the class's value. The most important is that the value must contain -list.

<main>
<!-- This one will be selected -->
    <div class="main-list-container"></div>
<!-- This one will be selected -->
    <div class="primary-list"></div>
<!-- This one will be selected -->
    <div class="primary-list-item"></div>
<!-- This one won't be selected -->
    <div class="list-footer"></div>
</main>

Conclusion

Sometimes it's really tough to find the needed element to style due to the fact that our CSS file can be overkill very quick. And using these kind of selectors can be very useful depending on your use-case.

#css

Posted by Ibrahima Ndaw

Full-stack developer and blogger
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