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Understanding CSS Selectors

A CSS style sheet consists of rules that define how html elements should be displayed on a webpage. Each rule consists of one or more selectors, one or more properties, and one or more values that each property should be set to. An example of a basic selector is shown below.

font-family: verdana;
font-weight: bold;

The selector above is p, which selects html paragraph elements. The properties of the selected elements are listed within curly brackets. The property names and values are separated by a colon, and property-value pairs are separated by semicolons. This rule specifically sets paragraphs font to verdana and sets the text to bold.

If you use inline style, you don't need a selector. Shown below is an example of setting the same rule with inline style.

<p style="font-family:verdana; font-weight:bold;">Paragraph Text</p>

Using inline style defeats the purpose of CSS because it applies only to the individual element containing the style attribute. CSS was designed to make it easy to set and modify style for all the elements on an entire webpage, or even an entire web site. Inline style also defeats another purpose of CSS, which is to separate content from presentation.

• I use inline style frequently because it has several advantages. For the specific rules set, it overrides any style rules set at higher levels, and you don't need to go searching around in style code blocks for the rules.

Class Selector

In most cases, you want to set the style for all elements of a certain type, for example you might want to set the background color for all span elements. In that case you would use a class selector. An example of a class selector is shown below.

background-color: blue;

Note that In the style rule definition, the class selector's name is prefixed with a dot. This rule sets the background color of every element with the class attribute bluebkgnd to blue. After defining the class selector, you go through your html code and apply that class to each span that belongs to the bluebkgnd class as shown below.

<span class="bluebkgnd">Span Text</span>

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