Pseudo classes and Pseudo elements

If you are new to the world of CSS, the terms “Pseudo classes and Pseudo elements” will seem like technical jargon to you. Therefore, I will start with the basic concept and then take you to the level of understanding pseudo classes and pseudo elements.

Cascading Style Sheets

It is important to learn about cascading style sheets (CSS) before we jump to the more technical terms. The term might seem to very intellectual but it has a very simple meaning. CSS is the mechanism through which we add style to the web pages. The styling of web pages can include fonts, colours and spacing.

Pseudo Classes and Pseudo Elements

Simply described, pseudo elements and classes are part of the process of CSS. Pseud in itself is a very complicated term to read. Although, pseudo simply means something that seems to appear like something or almost looks like something.

Pseudo Class

A pseudo class is a phantom or specific characteristic of an element that can be targeted using the process of CSS. Commonly, pseudo classes are written is a certain format. The class is preceded by a colon and then the name of the pseudo class is mentioned.

selector:pseudo-class {
    property:value;
}

Pseudo Elements

The concept of pseudo elements is quite similar to that of HTML. It is important to note that pseudo classes are not actually seen in the document tree. Pseudo classes are not typed but in fact created through the mechanism of CSS.

selector::pseudo-element {
    property:value;
}

People seem to get confused between single and double colon pseudo elements. The fact is that both formats are correct. However, some pseudo elements are written with a double colon to differentiate them from some pseudo classes that are always written with a single colon.

It is important to know that some pseudo elements require a double colon format. Most of the browsers, except the Internet Explorer 8, support double colon pseudo elements.

Many web developers stick to the single colon format as it provides backwards compatibility but they would still use a double colon where it is specifically required.

Experimental Pseudo Classes and Pseudo Elements

Often, programmers don’t finalise the state of an element used in the document. In such situations, web developers use experiment Pseudo classes and pseudo elements. Web developers use this technique when the style and syntax of the page are expected to change with time.

If you are not familiar with different Pseudo Classes and Pseudo Elements, then it is not that difficult to find a list of them on the Internet. Many web developing websites provide extensive lists with the format and how to incorporate a specific Pseudo Class or Pseudo Element. There is no doubt that the two concepts can become overlapping due to the only subtle difference between their formats. The concepts, in general, can also be complicated to understand; especially for those who are new to the field of programming. However, ask a seasoned developer and they will admit to how this is basically their life. The key to better understanding is to test them thoroughly.

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