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CSS custom numbered list styling

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Using CSS counters for list styling

8 Nov, 2020 · 3 min read

The other day we made an emoji list. And I wanted to include another potent CSS property called CSS Counters.

This is the result in Codepen.

See the Pen CSS custom numbered list styling by Chris Bongers (@rebelchris) on CodePen.

What are CSS Counters?

They are variables controlled by CSS, whose values can increment by specific CSS rules.

We can use the following properties in CSS.

  • content -> Used to place the counter() property.
  • counter-reset -> Creates or resets an counter
  • counter-increment -> Increment a specific counter
  • counter() -> Adds the value to an element

HTML Structure

Let's create a straightforward example using two lists. We want each list to re-start the counter.

<div>
  <ol>
    <li>Item #1</li>
    <li>Item #2</li>
    <li>Item #3</li>
    <li>Item #4</li>
    <li>Item #5</li>
  </ol>
</div>
<div>
  <ol>
    <li>Item #1</li>
    <li>Item #2</li>
    <li>Item #3</li>
    <li>Item #4</li>
    <li>Item #5</li>
  </ol>
</div>

CSS counter styling

So how do we now use CSS counters?

Let's start with the <ol> element.

ol {
  counter-reset: custom;
  list-style-type: none;
  padding: 0;
  margin: 0px 20px;
}

We start by resetting the list counter called custom. Then we remove the default list style since we will add this custom one.

Now we can move on to the <li> styling.

ol li {
  counter-increment: custom;
  padding: 15px 0;
  display: flex;
  align-items: center;
}

Here we increment the custom counter and add some essential padding and alignment.

We need to use this counter in a before pseudo element.

ol li:before {
  content: counters(custom, '.') ' ';
  width: 30px;
  height: 30px;
  margin-right: 10px;
  background: purple;
  color: #fff;
  border-radius: 50%;
  display: flex;
  align-items: center;
  justify-content: center;
}

As you can see, we place our custom counter in the content element. We then added some basic styling to make it look slightly nicer.

I'm using many flex options to style everything centered.

Some outstanding examples

Now that you have seen my introduction check what these incredible people made with this fantastic CSS property.

Check this cool gradient one made by Mattia Astorino

See the Pen CSS Gradient Counter List by Mattia Astorino (@equinusocio) on CodePen.

Or this section layout one made by Jonathan Snook

See the Pen Timeline CSS with Counters by Jonathan Snook (@snookca) on CodePen.

Or even this absurdly good Tic-Tac-Toe with counters by Sαwsαn

See the Pen Pure CSS & Responsive Tic-Tac-Toe (Modern Browser Only) by Sawsan (@saawsan) on CodePen.

Browser Support

And the good news?

CSS Counters are fully supported! 🎉

CSS counter support

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