Animated Content Tabs with CSS3

In this tutorial we are going to implement some simple CSS3 content tabs using radio buttons together with the :checked pseudo-class and sibling combinators.

CSS3 Content Tabs

CSS3 Content Tabs

Content tabs are a very common and familiar element in web design, and often their turn out to be pretty useful. So, in this tutorial we are going to implement some simple CSS3 content tabs using radio buttons together with the :checked pseudo-class and sibling combinators.

Note that the CSS3 properties will only work in browsers that support them.

The Markup

We will be using input elements to connect to the division with the class content. The content division includes all of the “tab pages”. For each input element we’ll have a label element. All labels will be styled like tabs.

<section class="tabs">
    <input id="tab-1" type="radio" name="radio-set" class="tab-selector-1" checked="checked" />
	<label for="tab-1" class="tab-label-1">About us</label>
	<input id="tab-2" type="radio" name="radio-set" class="tab-selector-2" />
	<label for="tab-2" class="tab-label-2">How we work</label>
	<input id="tab-3" type="radio" name="radio-set" class="tab-selector-3" />
	<label for="tab-3" class="tab-label-3">References</label>
	<input id="tab-4" type="radio" name="radio-set" class="tab-selector-4" />
	<label for="tab-4" class="tab-label-4">Contact us</label>
	<div class="clear-shadow"></div>
	<div class="content">
		<div class="content-1">
            <p>Some content</p>
		<div class="content-2">
            <p>Some content</p>
		<div class="content-3">
            <p>Some content</p>
		<div class="content-4">
            <p>Some content</p>

Every input element has a value, and we can always make an input selected by default by adding the checked attribute.


The first thing we need to do is to define some dimension and hide the inputs by setting their opacity to 0:

tabs {
    position: relative;
	margin: 40px auto;
	width: 750px;

.tabs input {
	position: absolute;
	z-index: 1000;
	width: 120px;
	height: 40px;
	left: 0px;
	top: 0px;
	opacity: 0;
	cursor: pointer;
.tabs input#tab-2{
	left: 120px;
.tabs input#tab-3{
	left: 240px;
.tabs input#tab-4{
	left: 360px;

The inputs will be covering the labels. It will seem, as if we click on the label, but actually we are clicking on the input. This is a trick that will also work in mobile browsers (in some mobile browsers, simply clicking the label will not focus the associated input).

Next, we will make the labels look like tabs by defining some neat style for them. Note that each of the labels has a different z-index. A box-shadow will add depth and realism to the tabs.

.tabs label {
	background: linear-gradient(top, #5ba4a4 0%,#4e8c8a 100%);
	font-size: 15px;
	line-height: 40px;
	height: 40px;
	position: relative;
	padding: 0 20px;
    float: left;
	display: block;
	width: 80px;
	color: #385c5b;
	letter-spacing: 1px;
	text-transform: uppercase;
	font-weight: bold;
	text-align: center;
	text-shadow: 1px 1px 1px rgba(255,255,255,0.3);
    border-radius: 3px 3px 0 0;
    box-shadow: 2px 0 2px rgba(0,0,0,0.1), -2px 0 2px rgba(0,0,0,0.1);

.tabs input:hover + label {
	background: #5ba4a4;

.tabs label:first-of-type {
    z-index: 4;
    box-shadow: 2px 0 2px rgba(0,0,0,0.1);

.tab-label-2 {
    z-index: 3;

.tab-label-3 {
    z-index: 2;

.tab-label-4 {
    z-index: 1;

Since we don’t want the bottom part of the box-shadow to show, we will cover it by using a :after pseudo-element with no content:

.tabs label:after {
    content: '';
	background: #fff;
	position: absolute;
	bottom: -2px;
	left: 0;
	width: 100%;
	height: 2px;
	display: block;

When we click on a tab (label), it will be different in style and color from the others. The important thing is to make sure that the “checked” label will be on top of all of the other layers in the tabs. So, we will give it the highest z-index:

.tabs input:checked + label {
    background: #fff;
	z-index: 6;

As mentioned before, the content division will contain all of the tab pages, and we will set its z-index to 5, just to be under the selected label. In this way, the box-shadow of content area will cover all of the other labels.

Inside the content area, there are four divisions and each of them has their own content. By default (when their respective label is not selected/clicked) we want them to be hidden. So, we set the opacity to zero and the z-index to 1. We cannot use the display: none property because it’s not supported in transitions.

.content {
    background: #fff;
	position: relative;
    width: 100%;
	height: 370px;
	z-index: 5;
    box-shadow: 0 -2px 3px -2px rgba(0,0,0,0.2), 0 2px 2px rgba(0,0,0,0.1);
    border-radius: 0 3px 3px 3px;

.content div {
    position: absolute;
	top: 0;
	left: 0;
	padding: 10px 40px;
	z-index: 1;
    opacity: 0;
    transition: all linear 0.1s;

.content div h2,
.content div h3{
	color: #398080;
.content div p {
	font-size: 14px;
	line-height: 22px;
	font-style: italic;
	text-align: left;
	margin: 0;
	color: #777;
	padding-left: 15px;
	font-family: Cambria, Georgia, serif;
	border-left: 8px solid rgba(63,148,148, 0.1);

When we want a content to appear (label clicked) we set the opacity to 1 and raise the z-index because we want this content division to be on top of all the others:

.tabs ~ .content .content-1,
.tabs ~ .content .content-2,
.tabs ~ .content .content-3,
.tabs ~ .content .content-4 {
    z-index: 100;
    opacity: 1;
    transition: all ease-out 0.2s 0.1s;

In this tutorial we just went through the basic example that will fade in/out the contents. You can find more styles and effects in the demos.

This tutorial is part of the CSS3 series on Codrops. Check out the other experiments:

Tagged with:

Rey Wang

Rey is a digital product designer based in Beijing, China. Contact & collaboration will be welcome.

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Comments are closed.
  1. Hi!!! I wanted to say that your tutorial is great, but I am trying to put more than one tabbed zone in one html, and it is a mess! I repeat the code and rename it in order to separate the two of them with their own styles but it isnΒ΄t working. Because when I press in the one that is below the other the contents in the forst one hide. :S I tried everything, please can you help me? How can I manage to separate the functionality between them???

    Here is my code [Link added by Codrops]

  2. Hey, I love the way this works. I was able to style and modify demos 3 and 4 with extra tabs and dynamic height.

    For dynamic height, I removed the height from .content, and added position:relative and a background color to the .tabs ~ .content .content-1,
    .tabs ~ .content .content-2,
    .tabs ~ .content .content-3,
    .tabs ~ .content .content-4

    As for adding content within a tab, use instead of and style the span like you would the div.

    If you are trying to add/remove tabs, you have to make sure you add or remove all references for the number of tabs you are adding/removing.

    However, I could not get the code to work with IE8, even with selectivizr. I ended up just making a fallback for it.

  3. Is there a way by which this can work in IE8 and below? Any help will be greatly appreciated.

  4. I love love love this. The only problem I’ve found with it is that you can’t add another div element inside the content. Such as

    The title goes here

    You can’t do that, for some reason, it wont let you. Anyone know how to fix this problem?

  5. Hmm is this close to something i want to implement. Similar to the 4th example. Instead of moving all elements off the screen at once.

    It removes top elements first, followed by the below element. When it switches to a new tab it drops the bottom element down first then places down the above elements ontop.

    Pretty much like what you see in a layered cake game.

  6. Hello, it is possible have two complete content tabs on one page? I have troubles with this. Correctly works only one content tab πŸ™