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What is CSS selector specificity?

If an element is targeted by multiple selectors, browser use the specificity of the selector to determine which styling to apply. Each selector has a specificity that is determined by what you use in that selector: elements, ID's, classes etc. This specificity is split up in different levels.

A single value in a higher level is more important than all levels below it. For example, you can have a 1000 class names, and a selector with a single ID would still be more specific.

Gotcha's when dealing with CSS selector specificity issues

  • The universal selector * has no specificity.
  • properties with !important are applied even if the selector is less specific.
  • …Except for the properties with !important in same or a higher specificity selectors later in your CSS.
  • …Except for the style="" attribute on an element.
  • If you use a pseudo class like :not() or :is(), the selector inside it with the highest specificity determines the specificity.
  • Anything in a :where() has no specificity.
  • For :nth-child() and :nth-last-child() pseudo-classes the specificity is the combination of the pseudo-class itself (0,1,0) plus the most specific of the selectors in them.
  • Child or sibling selectors (>, ~, +) add no specificity.

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