CSS Reference Pseudo-class


:root is a CSS pseudo-class selector used to select the element that represents the root of the document.

In HTML4, this is always the <html> element, since it is the highest-level ancestor of all other elements on the page. So, :root is identical to using the html as a selector, except that it has a higher specificity.

This means that, in the following example, the styles specified using :root will override those specified using the html selector, even if the latter comes next in the style sheet.

:root {
    /* style the root element */

html {
    /* style the root element */

In document formats other than HTML, such as SVG and XML, the :root pseudo-class can refer to another higher-level ancestor.

Trivia & Notes

Just like other pseudo-class selectors, the :root selector can be chained with other selectors such as :hover and pseudo-elements such as ::after, for example, to provide hover styles for the root element in different states. For example, the following will change the background color of the root element when it is hovered:

:root {
    background-color: #009966;
    /* smooth the color transition */
    transition: background-color .6s;

:root:hover {
    background-color: #0099ff

You can see a live demo of this in the Live Demo section below.


The following will add a content to the root element using the ::after pseudo-element.

:root::after {
    content: "I am generated!";
    color: white;
    /* ... */

See the live demo below for a live example.

Live Demo

In the following live demo, the root html element gets a background image, the body gets a green background color, and a purple box is generated and inserted into the html using the ::after pseudo-element and centered in the viewport. Note that the pseudo-element does not inherit the styles of the body because it is not contained inside it—it comes after in in the document.

View this demo on the Codrops Playground

Browser Support

The :root pseudo-class selector is supported in Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera 9.5+, Internet Explorer 9+, and on Android and iOS.

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Last updated February 3, 2015 at 12:33 pm by Mary Lou

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