# Tips, tricks and tutorials for web design and graphic design.

## Calculating a selector’s specificity

A selector’s specificity is calculated as follows:

* count 1 if the declaration is from is a ‘style’ attribute rather than a rule with a selector, 0 otherwise (= a) (In HTML, values of an element’s “style” attribute are style sheet rules. These rules have no selectors, so a=1, b=0, c=0, and d=0.)
* count the number of ID attributes in the selector (= b)
* count the number of other attributes and pseudo-classes in the selector (= c)
* count the number of element names and pseudo-elements in the selector (= d)

The specificity is based only on the form of the selector. In particular, a selector of the form “[id=p33]” is counted as an attribute selector (a=0, b=0, c=1, d=0), even if the id attribute is defined as an “ID” in the source document’s DTD.

Concatenating the four numbers a-b-c-d (in a number system with a large base) gives the specificity.

Example(s):

Some examples:

* {} /* a=0 b=0 c=0 d=0 -> specificity = 0,0,0,0 */
li {} /* a=0 b=0 c=0 d=1 -> specificity = 0,0,0,1 */
li:first-line {} /* a=0 b=0 c=0 d=2 -> specificity = 0,0,0,2 */
ul li {} /* a=0 b=0 c=0 d=2 -> specificity = 0,0,0,2 */
ul ol+li {} /* a=0 b=0 c=0 d=3 -> specificity = 0,0,0,3 */
h1 + *[rel=up]{} /* a=0 b=0 c=1 d=1 -> specificity = 0,0,1,1 */
ul ol li.red {} /* a=0 b=0 c=1 d=3 -> specificity = 0,0,1,3 */
li.red.level {} /* a=0 b=0 c=2 d=1 -> specificity = 0,0,2,1 */
#x34y {} /* a=0 b=1 c=0 d=0 -> specificity = 0,1,0,0 */
style=”" /* a=1 b=0 c=0 d=0 -> specificity = 1,0,0,0 */

In the above example, the color of the P element would be green. The declaration in the “style” attribute will override the one in the STYLE element because of cascading rule 3, since it has a higher specificity.

### 2 responses to Calculating a selector’s specificity

1. great post as usual!

2. Have been looking at doing SEO and improving the web design on my site for a long time, so this website has been very helpful. Easy read also, so thank you!