CSS3 ordered list styles

Styling ordered lists was always a tricky task and I'm not the only one who thinks that. To style numbers you need to remove default browser styles and add hooks to your lists elements in order to target them and style accordingly.

In this article you'll learn how to add some CSS3 fine tuning to your ordered lists, using a semantic approach.

CSS3 ordered list styles

The idea

When I first read Roger Johansson's article about styling ordered list numbers, I must admit I seriously felt in love with that technique. Using that technique, I will try to go a bit further and show you two different styling possibilities for ordered lists.

View demo

The HTML

Below you'll find nothing than simple ordered list markup:

<ol class="rounded-list">
    <li><a href="">List item</a></li>
    <li><a href="">List item</a></li>
    <li><a href="">List item</a>
        <ol>
            <li><a href="">List sub item</a></li>
            <li><a href="">List sub item</a></li>
            <li><a href="">List sub item</a></li>
        </ol>
    </li>
    <li><a href="">List item</a></li>
    <li><a href="">List item</a></li>                       
</ol>

The CSS

Further, I'll try to explain how this works in a few words.

This technique uses Automatic counters and numbering. Basically it's about using two CSS 2.1 properties: counter-reset (this initiate a counter) and counter-increment (kinda self-explanatory, this increments the previous counter). As you will see below, the counter-increment will be used along with CSS generated content (pseudo-elements).

ol {
    counter-reset: li; /* Initiate a counter */
    list-style: none; /* Remove default numbering */
    *list-style: decimal; /* Keep using default numbering for IE6/7 */
    font: 15px 'trebuchet MS', 'lucida sans';
    padding: 0;
    margin-bottom: 4em;
    text-shadow: 0 1px 0 rgba(255,255,255,.5);
}

ol ol {
    margin: 0 0 0 2em; /* Add some left margin for inner lists */
}

Rounded-shaped numbers

Round-shaped numbers

.rounded-list a{
    position: relative;
    display: block;
    padding: .4em .4em .4em 2em;
    *padding: .4em;
    margin: .5em 0;
    background: #ddd;
    color: #444;
    text-decoration: none;
    border-radius: .3em;
    transition: all .3s ease-out;   
}

.rounded-list a:hover{
    background: #eee;
}

.rounded-list a:hover:before{
    transform: rotate(360deg);  
}

.rounded-list a:before{
    content: counter(li);
    counter-increment: li;
    position: absolute; 
    left: -1.3em;
    top: 50%;
    margin-top: -1.3em;
    background: #87ceeb;
    height: 2em;
    width: 2em;
    line-height: 2em;
    border: .3em solid #fff;
    text-align: center;
    font-weight: bold;
    border-radius: 2em;
    transition: all .3s ease-out;
}

Rectangle-shaped numbers

Rectangle-shaped numbers

.rectangle-list a{
    position: relative;
    display: block;
    padding: .4em .4em .4em .8em;
    *padding: .4em;
    margin: .5em 0 .5em 2.5em;
    background: #ddd;
    color: #444;
    text-decoration: none;
    transition: all .3s ease-out;   
}

.rectangle-list a:hover{
    background: #eee;
}   

.rectangle-list a:before{
    content: counter(li);
    counter-increment: li;
    position: absolute; 
    left: -2.5em;
    top: 50%;
    margin-top: -1em;
    background: #fa8072;
    height: 2em;
    width: 2em;
    line-height: 2em;
    text-align: center;
    font-weight: bold;
}

.rectangle-list a:after{
    position: absolute; 
    content: '';
    border: .5em solid transparent;
    left: -1em;
    top: 50%;
    margin-top: -.5em;
    transition: all .3s ease-out;               
}

.rectangle-list a:hover:after{
    left: -.5em;
    border-left-color: #fa8072;             
}   

Circle-shaped numbers

Circle-shaped numbers

.circle-list li{
    padding: 2.5em;
    border-bottom: 1px dashed #ccc;
}

.circle-list h2{
    position: relative;
    margin: 0;
}

.circle-list p{
    margin: 0;
}

.circle-list h2:before{
    content: counter(li);
    counter-increment: li;
    position: absolute;    
    z-index: -1;
    left: -1.3em;
    top: -.8em;
    background: #f5f5f5;
    height: 1.5em;
    width: 1.5em;
    border: .1em solid rgba(0,0,0,.05);
    text-align: center;
    font: italic bold 1em/1.5em Georgia, Serif;
    color: #ccc;
    border-radius: 1.5em;
    transition: all .2s ease-out;    
}

.circle-list li:hover h2:before{
    background-color: #ffd797;
    border-color: rgba(0,0,0,.08);
    border-width: .2em;
    color: #444;
    transform: scale(1.5);
}

Small bonus

Some CSS3 numbers animations are also included in this demo. Unfortunately, as far as I know and at this time, Firefox is the only one who supports animated pseudo-elements. Let's hope that will improve sooner or later.

Browser support

These list looks well also on older browsers, as you can see below:

Browser support

That's all!

Thank you all for reading and I hope you enjoyed it. Feel free to share your thoughts, I appreciate your comments.

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