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Child selectors

From: CSS: Core Concepts

Video: Child selectors

Child selectors are very similar to descendent selectors in that they take advantage of the parent-to-child relationship when targeting elements on the page. Unlike descendent selectors, however, they don't apply to all descendents of that parent element, only the elements that are the direct children of the parent. Now I know that sounds like splitting here, so let's take a closer look at what that means as we explore the syntax of child selectors. So here I have the child.htm file open, and you find that in the Chapter 02 folder, 02_10. And I am just going to preview this in the browser after we talk about the structure for a second.

Child selectors

Child selectors are very similar to descendent selectors in that they take advantage of the parent-to-child relationship when targeting elements on the page. Unlike descendent selectors, however, they don't apply to all descendents of that parent element, only the elements that are the direct children of the parent. Now I know that sounds like splitting here, so let's take a closer look at what that means as we explore the syntax of child selectors. So here I have the child.htm file open, and you find that in the Chapter 02 folder, 02_10. And I am just going to preview this in the browser after we talk about the structure for a second.

So if I scroll down into the actual HTML itself, you can see that it's very similar to the file that we just worked with. Here we have a header with an h1 side of it. We have an article with some paragraphs and an h2. We have those two asides, and both of them have class attributes for upcoming and specials, and they have h2s as well. Well, it's the h2s inside the asides that I really want to talk about for a moment here. Notice that both of these asides are also located inside of this parent article tag, so they are part of that.

So when we go up to our styles and we can see that we have this article h2. Well, if I preview that in my browser, I can see that the h2 within the articles is getting the styling, but the h2s inside the asides are as well. Remember, descendent selectors don't care how deep into the structure of the page they go; they are going to target any h2 inside that article. So child selectors can help us limit the styling to h2s that are only direct children of the article.

Let's see how that works. So I am going to go back into Aptana studio, and I am just going to modify our article h2 selector here by using what's known as a child combinator. We do that by using the greater than symbol, and that's it. That's all we have to do. So the greater than symbol is called a child combinator. Whitespace does not matter. I could go ahead and write the syntax like this, where we have no whitespace, or I could add whitespace on either side, if that makes it more readable for you. It doesn't really matter. In this case, whitespace doesn't matter one way or the other.

So what this is saying is it's saying that hey, go find any h2 that is a direct child of article, meaning just inside of it and not nested in another element deeper within. So if I save this and I go back and preview this in our browser again--so let me just go ahead and refresh this page-- you can see that the h2 inside of the article that's immediately inside of it still has that styling, but now these h2s inside the asides don't have that styling anymore. So, really cool! Let's go take a look at some of the other ways that we can use child selectors.

So if I scroll down into the HTML, I can see that we have a few lists down here in the asides. So they are mainly unordered lists, but inside of them, they have ordered lists sort of nested in them. So we have one here, and then we have one here that pretty much has the same structure: an unordered or bulleted list with an ordered list inside of it. Okay, so I am going to scroll up just a little bit here inside my styles again and right after my last style, I am going to write a new selector that is ol > li.

So I like to say greater than, but really, you should just remind yourself it's the child combinator. That's weird syntax, but that is exactly what it is. So ol > li. Okay, so let's go ahead and add some styling to this. I am just going to say font-style: italic, and for color, we are going to do red. So I am going to go ahead and save that. And if I preview this in my browser and scroll down to these lists, I can see that it's applying to both of those lists, because both of them have those list items directly inside of an ordered list, or in ol.

So right there it's going to apply to both of them. Well, these child selectors can be combined, just like any other selector, into a descendent selector. You can remember those from the previous movie. We just used the whitespace to say, hey, any one of this instance inside of an element. So let's go ahead and refine this selector a little bit by making it part of a larger overall descendent selector. So if I limit this, if I say, hey, aside ol, child combinator, li, I know that looks really confusing, but this is one selector and this is one selector.

If it helps you remember that a little bit more, you can remove the whitespacing from there and maybe that looks a little bit more descriptive. Essentially what this selector is saying is hey, any list item that's found immediately inside of an ordered list, which is also found inside of an aside, that's who I want to target. So this is incredibly specific. So again, if I save this, go back out to my browser and refresh it, you'll notice that now only the ordered list inside the aside is being targeted, and the one outside of it is not.

So child selectors are really, really cool. You're probably not going to use them as much as descendent selectors. It is, however, nice to know that you have the option of limiting style application to only the direct children of an element when you need it.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for CSS: Core Concepts
CSS: Core Concepts

81 video lessons · 40809 viewers

James Williamson
Author

 
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  1. 4m 57s
    1. Welcome
      55s
    2. Using the exercise files
      4m 2s
  2. 1h 7m
    1. Exploring default styling
      4m 56s
    2. CSS authoring tools
      2m 29s
    3. CSS syntax
      4m 45s
    4. Writing a selector
      4m 10s
    5. Setting properties
      8m 40s
    6. Common units of measurement
      7m 47s
    7. Inline styles
      5m 1s
    8. Embedded styles
      5m 19s
    9. Using external style sheets
      10m 34s
    10. Checking for browser support
      8m 48s
    11. Dealing with browser inconsistencies
      5m 30s
  3. 2h 15m
    1. Structuring HTML correctly
      2m 51s
    2. Element selectors
      4m 52s
    3. Class selectors
      6m 4s
    4. ID selectors
      3m 27s
    5. Using classes and IDs
      10m 7s
    6. Element-specific selectors
      4m 35s
    7. The universal selector
      5m 42s
    8. Grouping selectors
      4m 49s
    9. Descendent selectors
      7m 32s
    10. Child selectors
      5m 7s
    11. Adjacent selectors
      5m 30s
    12. Attribute selectors
      12m 43s
    13. Pseudo-class selectors
      3m 54s
    14. Dynamic pseudo-class selectors
      8m 29s
    15. Structural pseudo-class selectors
      6m 45s
    16. Nth-child selectors
      13m 10s
    17. Pseudo-element selectors
      12m 40s
    18. Targeting page content: Lab
      8m 56s
    19. Targeting page content: Solution
      7m 59s
  4. 42m 39s
    1. What happens when styles conflict?
      4m 0s
    2. Understanding the cascade
      5m 47s
    3. Using inheritance
      6m 11s
    4. Selector specificity
      6m 55s
    5. The !important declaration
      4m 5s
    6. Reducing conflicts through planning
      3m 33s
    7. Resolving conflicts: Lab
      6m 45s
    8. Resolving conflicts: Solution
      5m 23s
  5. 1h 47m
    1. Setting a font family
      7m 10s
    2. Using @font-face
      9m 18s
    3. Setting font size
      7m 35s
    4. Font style and font weight
      6m 52s
    5. Transforming text
      3m 58s
    6. Using text variants
      2m 49s
    7. Text decoration options
      4m 26s
    8. Setting text color
      3m 2s
    9. Writing font shorthand notation
      8m 49s
    10. Controlling text alignment
      6m 33s
    11. Letter and word spacing
      9m 11s
    12. Indenting text
      4m 30s
    13. Adjusting paragraph line height
      10m 30s
    14. Controlling the space between elements
      6m 41s
    15. Basic text formatting: Lab
      8m 45s
    16. Basic text formatting: Solution
      7m 14s
  6. 2h 1m
    1. Understanding the box model
      16m 53s
    2. Controlling element spacing
      14m 29s
    3. Controlling interior spacing
      10m 49s
    4. Margin and padding shorthand notation
      6m 27s
    5. Adding borders
      8m 57s
    6. Defining element size
      10m 7s
    7. Creating rounded corners
      6m 58s
    8. Background properties
      2m 51s
    9. Using background images
      5m 10s
    10. Controlling image positioning
      10m 25s
    11. Using multiple backgrounds
      7m 5s
    12. Background shorthand notation
      5m 25s
    13. Styling container elements: Lab
      7m 55s
    14. Styling container elements: Solution
      8m 17s
  7. 47m 51s
    1. Color keyword definitions
      5m 4s
    2. Understanding hexadecimal notation
      6m 5s
    3. Using RGB values
      4m 58s
    4. Using HSL values
      5m 17s
    5. Working with opacity
      2m 23s
    6. Using RGBa and HSLa
      3m 8s
    7. Styling drop shadows
      5m 38s
    8. CSS gradients
      6m 32s
    9. Working with color: Lab
      4m 26s
    10. Working with color: Solution
      4m 20s
  8. 1m 58s
    1. Additional resources
      1m 58s

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