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Cover image for Working with data attributes in CSS
Chris Bongers
Chris Bongers

Posted on • Originally published at daily-dev-tips.com

Working with data attributes in CSS

We previously looked at using data attributes in JavaScript. These data attributes are a fantastic way to store little bits of information on an element without using custom attributes.

However, we can also use them to style some aspects with specific attribute sets.

CSS attributes in CSS

To paint a simple picture, let's create elements that hold a specific value like this.

<div data-rating="1">Rating</div>
<div data-rating="5">Rating</div>
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As you can see, our rating is only set as the custom attribute.

Let's first look at how we can style this object, which is very easy by simply using its name.

[data-rating] {
  color: indigo;
}
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With this, the rating text will be purple.

We can also make it more specific and add styling for particular values.

[data-rating='1'] {
  color: red;
}
[data-rating='5'] {
  color: indigo;
}
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And to top it off, we can inject the value with CSS!

[data-rating]::after {
  content: attr(data-rating);
}
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Which would result in the rating being added after our text.

You can play with these data attributes on the following CodePen.

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Top comments (8)

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leob profile image
leob

This:

[data-rating]::after {
  content: attr(data-rating);
}
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is amazing!

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adam_cyclones profile image
Adam Crockett • Edited on

But not accessible and should not be used in production

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leob profile image
leob

Yeah not surprising, it's a bit of a hack of course, it's clever but let's not get carried away :)

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adam_cyclones profile image
Adam Crockett

Hacks are fine as long as we know they are, fixing them later or closing the gap now, great power great responsibility etc etc 😁

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dailydevtips1 profile image
Chris Bongers

Oh yeah πŸ₯³

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pengeszikra profile image
Peter Vivo

data-tag use case is most important in react becaouse this is help to avoid over load className aka class and result is much cleaner code.

for example:

export const RatingStars = ({rating}) => (
  <div className="rating-stars"  data-rating={rating} />
);
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peerreynders profile image
peerreynders • Edited on

FYI: There is a school of thought that data attributes should not be bound to (i.e. targeted in CSS).

cssguidelin.es:

A common practice is to use data-* attributes as JS hooks, but this is incorrect. data-* attributes, as per the spec, are used store custom data private to the page or application (emphasis mine). data-* attributes are designed to store data, not be bound to.

This refers to 3.2.6.6 Embedding custom non-visible data with the data-* attributes of the HTML living standard.

From that perspective using attribute selectors with data attributes is primarily helpful for document.querySelector().

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adam_cyclones profile image
Adam Crockett

Using this technique, ban yourself from describing UI states where possible and use aria instead, then style with aria. The result you write accessible code that must be thought out in order to be styled

Classic DEV post:

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