Coding Magic: Unleashing CSS Pseudo Elements

Coding Magic: Unleashing CSS Pseudo Elements


As web developers, our goal is to produce engaging and visually stunning user interfaces.

CSS pseudo-elements provide a staggering array of opportunities to improve our designs in the always changing frontend development environment.

We’ll go into the world of CSS pseudo-elements in this article, looking at there uses, creative possibilities, and how they may take your web development projects to the next level.


selector::pseudo-element {
  property: value;

For pseudo-elements, double colons (::) are used. This separates pseudo-elements from pseudo-classes, which are denoted by a single colon (:).

Understanding the Magic of Pseudo Elements

With the use of CSS pseudo-elements, we can target particular areas of an HTML element without adding additional markup. Even the most static HTML structures may be given life by inserting content or decorative components using pseudo-elements like ::before and ::after.


The ::before pseudo-element can be used to insert some content before the content of an element.

Creating custom bullet points using ::before pseudo element.

/* Remove default browser bullets */
ul li {
  list-style-type: none;

/* Creating custom bullet points */
ul li::before {
   content: "‣"; /* Bullet point symbol */
  margin-right: 10px; /* Add space between the bullet point and the text */


The ::after pseudo-element can be used to insert some content after the content of an element.

Styling links with a custom underline hover effect.

/* Styling links with unique underlines */
a {
  position: relative; /* Ensure the ::after pseudo-element is positioned relative to the link */
  text-decoration: none; /* Remove default underline */
  color: #007bff; /* Set the link text color */

a::after {
  content: attr(
  ); /* Set the content of ::after to the value of data-text attribute */
  position: absolute;
  bottom: 0; /* Position the ::after element just below the link text */
  left: 0;
  display: inline-block;
  border-bottom: 2px solid #007bff; /* Blue underline */
  width: 100%; /* Set the width to 100% to match the link text length */
  text-align: center; /* Center the underline text */
  opacity: 0; /* Hide the underline initially */
  transition: opacity 0.3s; /* Add a smooth transition effect */

a:hover::after {
  opacity: 1; /* Show the underline on hover */

List of pseudo-elements

Pseudo-elements defined by a set of CSS specifications include the following:

  • ::after
  • ::backdrop
  • ::before
  • ::cue
  • ::cue-region
  • ::first-letter
  • ::first-line
  • ::file-selector-button
  • ::grammar-error
  • ::marker
  • ::part()
  • ::placeholder
  • ::selection
  • ::slotted()
  • ::spelling-error
  • ::target-text

Elevating Your Designs with Creative Styling

The possibilities for using CSS pseudo-elements to showcase your creativity are infinite, ranging from subtle movements to striking decorative features. We’ll look at how to design distinctive borders, beautiful bullet points, and elaborate patterns for your website.


/* Designing decorative borders */
div::after {
  content: "";
  position: absolute;
  top: 0;
  left: 0;
  width: 100%;
  height: 2px;
  background-color: #ff9900; /* Orange border */

Mastering Layout and Responsiveness

We easily overcome layout problems by utilising pseudo-elements. We’ll learn how to craft responsive designs with pseudo-elements, maintaining fluidity and harmony across different screen sizes and devices.


/* Creating a responsive call-to-action button */
button::before {
  content: "▶"; /* Play button character */
  margin-right: 8px;

/* Adjusting button style for smaller screens */
@media screen and (max-width: 600px) {
  button::before {
    content: none;

Practical Use Cases and Real-World Examples

Get inspired by real-world examples and practical use cases where CSS pseudo-elements play a pivotal role in improving user experience. The options are only limited by your creativity, from creating distinctive call-to-action buttons to building customised tooltips.


  <h2>Basic Tooltip</h2>

  <p>Move the mouse over the text below:</p>

  <div class="tooltip">Hover over me
    <span class="tooltiptext">Tooltip Demo</span>
/* Tooltip container */
.tooltip {
  position: relative;
  display: inline-block;
  border-bottom: 1px dotted black;

/* Tooltip text */
.tooltip .tooltiptext {
  visibility: hidden;
  width: 120px;
  background-color: black;
  color: #fff;
  text-align: center;
  border-radius: 5px;
  padding: 5px;

  /* Position the tooltip */
  position: absolute;
  z-index: 1;
  top: -2px;
  left: 105%;

/* Show the tooltip text when you mouse over the tooltip container */
.tooltip:hover .tooltiptext {
  visibility: visible;

Optimising Performance and Browser Compatibility

While pseudo-elements allow for limitless creativity, we’ll also look at the best ways to use them to keep performance at its best. To ensure a flawless experience for users across all platforms, we’ll also investigate browser compatibility.

Best Practices for Optimising Performance with Pseudo-Elements

  • Limit the number of pseudo-elements: Avoid using too many on a single element to avoid performance issues on complex layouts.
  • Minimise animations and transitions: Use them sparingly to prevent impacting performance, especially on lower-end devices.
  • Optimise background images: Ensure background images in pseudo-elements are appropriately sized and optimised for web display to reduce page load times.
  • Keep selectors simple: Use simple selectors to target elements with pseudo-elements, avoiding complex or overly specific ones that can slow down rendering.

Browser Compatibility for Pseudo-Elements

Pseudo-elements are widely supported in modern browsers, but there are some considerations for older versions and less common browsers:

  • ::before and ::after: These pseudo-elements are supported in all modern browsers, including Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Edge. They are also compatible with Internet Explorer 8 and above.
  • ::first-letter and ::first-line: These pseudo-elements have good support in modern browsers but may exhibit slight variations in rendering across different browsers. Internet Explorer has partial support for ::first-letter and limited support for ::first-line.
  • ::selection: This pseudo-element, used to style selected text, is supported in modern browsers, but Internet Explorer has limited support for it.
  • ::placeholder: Used to style the placeholder text in input elements, this pseudo-element is supported in most modern browsers, but its appearance may vary across platforms.
  • ::marker: This pseudo-element, used to style list item markers, has good support in modern browsers, but Internet Explorer does not support it.

It’s essential to test and validate your CSS styles and pseudo-elements across a range of browsers and versions to guarantee a seamless user experience.

In order to keep visual consistency, think about offering fallback styles for browsers that support only some of the pseudo-elements or none at all.


CSS pseudo-elements allow web developers to be more creative and versatile. You can advance your web design and development skills by knowing their applications and taking advantage of their potential.

So, are you ready to use CSS pseudo-elements to change your web projects? Unleash your creativity and start on this thrilling frontend development mastery adventure! Happy coding!

Further reading

Want to learn more about CSS Pseudo-elements? Then check out – CSS basics – Learn web development | MDN

See also

What is CSS? Basics Explained
What are CSS Rules and Selectors?
CSS Fundamentals: Essential Properties for Beginners

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