CSS nth-child selector basics

— 6 minute read

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Today we'll be going back to some CSS basics. I tend to use nth-child selectors in my articles.

But that made me realise I haven't really gone over the basics of using nth-child selectors.

Today we will be exploring the options of this powerful CSS selector and some examples.

Nth-child basic selectors permalink

Let's start off by using some basic selectors.

We can define which element we want to select. So lets say we want to select the third item.

<ul>
<li>Item 1</li>
<li>Item 2</li>
<li>Item 3</li>
<li>Item 4</li>
<li>Item 5</li>
</ul>
li:nth-child(3) {
color: green;
}

Result:

nth-child number selector

Odd/Even selector permalink

We can select every odd or even code by using these attributes.

li:nth-child(odd) {
color: red;
}

Result:

nth-child odd selector

li:nth-child(even) {
color: blue;
}

Result:

nth-child even selector

Every x selector permalink

Something cool we do is select every x element, so let's say we want every fourth element:

	li:nth-child(4n) {
color: purple;
}

Result:

nth-child every 4th

Or if we want to include the first one:

li:nth-child(4n+1) {
color: purple;
}

Result:

nth-child every 4th from 1

We can also start from the second for instance:

li:nth-child(4n+2) {
color: purple;
}

Result:

nth-child every 4th from 2

Everything but the first selector permalink

We can even have a selector that states select everything but the first three elements.

li:nth-child(n+4) {
color: teal;
}

Result:

nth-child everything but first three

Only first number selector permalink

Another cool thing we can do it select only the first x amount. Let's get the first three

li:nth-child(-n+3) {
color: teal;
}

Result:

nth-child first three

Selecting the last element permalink

We can even select the last element.

li:last-child {
color: orange;
}

Result:

nth last-child selector

With this, we can also offset to get the second to last one.

li:nth-last-child(2) {
color: orange;
}

Result:

nth-last-child second to last

Combining selectors permalink

We can even combine selectors!

Let's say you want to get every even number from an odd list amount.

<ul>
<li>Item 1</li>
<li>Item 2</li>
<li>Item 3</li>
<li>Item 4</li>
<li>Item 5</li>
</ul>
<ul>
<li>Item 1</li>
<li>Item 2</li>
<li>Item 3</li>
<li>Item 4</li>
<li>Item 5</li>
</ul>
<ul>
<li>Item 1</li>
<li>Item 2</li>
<li>Item 3</li>
<li>Item 4</li>
<li>Item 5</li>
</ul>
ul:nth-child(odd) li:nth-child(even) {
color: orange;
}

This will get all the odd ul and then all the even li in those.

Result:

nth-child double selector

Have a play around with this Codepen, try and change some selector to see what happens!

See the Pen CSS nth-child selector basics by Chris Bongers (@rebelchris) on CodePen.

Browser Support permalink

The nth-child selector has really good support and can be used in most of the browsers. Don't hesitate to make use of them.

CSS nth-child support

Thank you for reading, and let's connect! permalink

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