Targeting Selectors Without a Class Attribute Bookmark

I recently ran into the issue that I needed to target certain <li> elements whose parent <ul> does not contain a class attribute. I might have been able to solve this issue in a different way, but in this case the parent <ul>s won't ever—never say never! ;)—have a class attribute, this method works well. It wasn’t the cleanest possible solution, but sometimes things need to give.

Most of the time I usually target elements or class names, but the following selector can definitely be helpful once in a while.

By using the :not() CSS pseudo-class (also known as the negation pseudo-class), it’s possible to exclude certain values from the selection. In this case I wanted to check for the presence of a class attribute, rather than its value. To do that, we can make use of the CSS attribute selector.

Combined, these two can make a powerful pair.

ul:not([class]) li {
    property: value;

The above CSS rule targets the <li> of this list:


But not of this:

<ul class="">

or this:

<ul class="classname">

I hope you found this article useful and will enjoy excluding elements from now on ;)

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