CSS :placeholder-shown class

β€” 4 minute read


Let's talk about placeholders. They are a wonderful addition to form elements.

Today we won't be talking about them as accessibility issues and hazards, but just about how to style the inputs that have them.

In CSS we can style the actual placeholder text by using the ::placeholder pseudo-element.

But did you know there is also a pseudo-class called :placeholder-shown? It will select the actual input field and style that, therefore we can all of a sudden add borders and other styles!

Our end result will be an input field that is styled based on the fact that the placeholder is shown. Once we type text into it the placeholder styling should be removed.

CSS placeholder-shown

HTML Structure permalink

Let's first start by creating a basic HTML to render two input fields in. One will have a placeholder and one will have a text value.

<div class="container">
<input type="text" value="I have a value" />
<input type="text" placeholder="I have a placeholder" />

CSS :placeholder-shown permalink

Let's first add some basic styling to our page:

body {
min-height: 100vh;
background: #efe9e7;
display: flex;
justify-content: center;
align-items: center;
.container {
background: #dae0f2;
padding: 2rem;
border-radius: 1rem;
display: flex;
align-items: center;
justify-content: center;
flex-direction: column;
.container input {
font-size: 1.5rem;
padding: 0.5rem;
margin: 0.5rem 0;
border-radius: 0.5rem;

By running this, we will get a basic form that will look like the image below.

CSS Basic form

Now how can we make the text field where the placeholder is active render differently? - We use the placeholder-shown pseudo-class like this:

.container input:placeholder-shown {
border: 5px dashed teal;

Now we should see a dashed teal border around the placeholder. Once we put a value in the field, that border will disappear!

Placeholder vs placeholder-shown difference permalink

To recap we can use a ::placeholder pseudo-element to change the actual placeholder text styling:

input::placeholder {
color: teal;

The difference is that we can use the :placeholder-shown pseudo-class to style the actual input styling:

input:placeholder-shown {
border: 5px dashed teal;

So now you know how to use all placeholder pseudo-classes. We also learned the difference between placeholder and placeholder-shown.

See the code examples in this Codepen permalink

Here you can find a full demo to play with:

See the Pen LYZvzaG by Chris Bongers (@rebelchris) on CodePen.

Browser Support permalink

The main browsers support placeholder-shown fully. Of course, IE has to be a pain in the ass. I would suggest using this as a nice addition, but don't fully rely on it.

CSS :placeholder-shown browser support

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

Thank you for reading my blog. Feel free to subscribe to my email newsletter and connect on Facebook or Twitter