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Cascading Style Sheets: The Definitive Guide, Second Edition by Eric A. Meyer

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Class and ID Selectors

So far, we’ve been grouping selectors and declarations together in a variety of ways, but the selectors we’ve been using are still simple ones. The selectors we’ve used refer only to document elements; they’re fine up to a point, but there are times when you need something a little more specialized.

In addition to raw document elements, there are two other types of selectors: class selectors and ID selectors, which let you assign styles in a way that is independent of document elements. These selectors can be used on their own or in conjunction with element selectors. However, they work only if you’ve marked up your document appropriately, so using them generally involves a little forethought and planning.

For example, say you’re drafting a document that discusses ways of handling plutonium. The document contains various warnings about safely dealing with such a dangerous substance. You want each warning to appear in boldface text so that it will stand out. However, you don’t know which elements these warnings will be. Some warnings could be entire paragraphs, while others could be a single item within a lengthy list or a small section of text. So, you can’t define a rule using simple selectors of any kind. Suppose you tried this route:

p {font-weight: bold;}

All paragraphs would be bold, not just those that contain warnings. You need a way to select only the text that contains warnings, or more precisely, a way to select only those elements that are warnings. ...

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