All About CSS Syntax

All About CSS Syntax

4 mins read73 Views Comment
Esha Gupta
Associate Senior Executive
Updated on May 9, 2024 17:04 IST

Have you ever wondered how websites get their unique styles? It’s all because of CSS syntax, the rules that web designers follow to style up the web pages. Let’s understand more!


CSS syntax is the set of rules that defines how we describe styles for a document written in HTML. Understanding the basic syntax of CSS is essential for web developers and designers to effectively style their web pages.

Table of Content

What is CSS Syntax?

Basic CSS syntax is composed of a selector and a declaration block.

selector {
    property: value;
  1. Selector: Determines which HTML elements will be styled.
  2. Declaration Block: Enclosed in curly braces {…} and contains one or more declarations.
  3. Declaration: A combination of a CSS property and a value, separated by a colon ( : ) and terminated by a semicolon ( ; )

Let’s understand deeply

                                 Declaration             Declaration
    button { background-color: yellow; border-radius: 5px; }
       |          |              |          |            |
   Selector    Property         Value    Property      Value

Let’s break down each component

1. Selector (button)

The selector is used to target and select specific HTML elements to which the defined styles will be applied.

2. Declaration (background-color: yellow; and border-radius: 5px;)

A declaration is a combination of a CSS property and its corresponding value. Declarations are used to specify the styles you want to apply to the selected elements. A declaration block (inside {}) can have one or more declarations, each separated by a semicolon.

3. Property (background-color and border-radius)

A property specifies what aspect or feature of the selected element you want to style or modify.

4. Value (yellow and 5px)

The value provides the specific style setting or modification for the associated property. The acceptable values can vary based on the property; for instance, some properties accept color values, some accept length values, and so on.


Importance of CSS Syntax

  • CSS interpreters in browsers are strict; even minor deviations from the accepted syntax can result in styles not being applied at all.
  • As websites and web applications grow, their stylesheets can become extensive. Using the correct syntax consistently makes the code more readable and easier to manage, thus reducing errors and facilitating collaboration among developers.
  • Different browsers might handle incorrect or non-standard CSS differently. By adhering to correct syntax and standards, developers can reduce inconsistencies across various browsers and platforms.
  • Adhering to proper syntax makes it easier for developers to learn from resources online, as the majority of tutorials, courses, and documentation adhere to standard practices.
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Let us see an example that will help us understand it better.

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
<meta charset="UTF-8">
<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0">
<title>Shiksha Online</title>
body {
font-family: 'Arial', sans-serif;
display: flex;
justify-content: center;
align-items: center;
height: 100vh;
background-color: #f4f4f4;
margin: 0;
.box {
display: flex;
justify-content: center;
align-items: center;
background-color: #fff;
border: 1px solid #ccc;
padding: 20px 40px;
box-shadow: 0 4px 8px rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.1);
h1 {
color: #333;
margin: 0; /* Remove default margins */
<div class="box">
<h1>Shiksha Online</h1>
Copy code



As you already know now, in CSS, the syntax is composed of a selector and a declaration block. The selector determines which HTML elements are targeted for styling, while the declaration block, enclosed in curly braces {}, defines the styles to be applied. Within the declaration block, styles are defined using a combination of properties and values, separated by colons : and terminated with semicolons ;. For example, in the code, the body selector targets the <body> element, and its associated declaration block ({ font-family: ‘Arial’, sans-serif; display: flex; … }) sets the font and display properties, among others, for that element.


CSS syntax serves as the foundational grammar of styling web content. It provides a structured and consistent way to describe the visual and functional properties of HTML elements. Understanding and correctly applying CSS syntax comprising selectors, properties, and values is very important.


What is CSS syntax, and why is it important in web development?

CSS syntax refers to the rules and structure used to define styles for web page elements. It's crucial in web development because it enables designers and developers to control the visual appearance of web content, including layout, colors, fonts, and more.

How do I select HTML elements to apply CSS styles?

You select HTML elements in CSS by using selectors. Common selectors include element selectors (e.g. p for paragraphs), class selectors (e.g. .my-class), and ID selectors (e.g. #my-id). You can also use pseudo-classes (e.g. :hover) and attribute selectors (e.g. [data-attribute]) to target elements.

What is a CSS declaration, and how is it structured?

A CSS declaration consists of a property and a value. It defines the style you want to apply to a selected element. The structure is property: value;

Can CSS syntax be nested, and how does it work?

CSS syntax supports nesting through the use of child or descendant selectors. You can target elements within other elements by specifying the hierarchy. 

What is the cascade in CSS syntax, and how does it determine styles?

The cascade refers to the order in which styles are applied when there are conflicting rules. CSS rules with higher specificity, importance, or source order take precedence. Understanding the cascade helps developers manage and prioritize styles effectively.

About the Author
Esha Gupta
Associate Senior Executive

Hello, world! I'm Esha Gupta, your go-to Technical Content Developer focusing on Java, Data Structures and Algorithms, and Front End Development. Alongside these specialities, I have a zest for immersing myself in v... Read Full Bio