:not()

The :not() CSS pseudo-class represents elements that do not match a list of selectors. Since it prevents specific items from being selected, it is known as the negation pseudo-class.

/* Selects any element that is NOT a paragraph */
:not(p) {
  color: blue;
}

The :not() pseudo-class has a number of quirks, tricks, and unexpected results that you should be aware of before using it.

Syntax

The :not() pseudo-class requires a comma-separated list of one or more selectors as its argument. The list must not contain another negation selector or a pseudo-element.

Warning: The ability to list more than one selector is experimental and not yet widely supported.

:not( <complex-selector-list> )

where
<complex-selector-list> = <complex-selector>#

where
<complex-selector> = <compound-selector> [ <combinator>? <compound-selector> ]*

where
<compound-selector> = [ <type-selector>? <subclass-selector>* [ <pseudo-element-selector> <pseudo-class-selector>* ]* ]!
<combinator> = '>' | '+' | '~' | [ '||' ]

where
<type-selector> = <wq-name> | <ns-prefix>? '*'
<subclass-selector> = <id-selector> | <class-selector> | <attribute-selector> | <pseudo-class-selector>
<pseudo-element-selector> = ':' <pseudo-class-selector>
<pseudo-class-selector> = ':' <ident-token> | ':' <function-token> <any-value> ')'

where
<wq-name> = <ns-prefix>? <ident-token>
<ns-prefix> = [ <ident-token> | '*' ]? |
<id-selector> = <hash-token>
<class-selector> = '.' <ident-token>
<attribute-selector> = '[' <wq-name> ']' | '[' <wq-name> <attr-matcher> [ <string-token> | <ident-token> ] <attr-modifier>? ']'

where
<attr-matcher> = [ '~' | | | '^' | '$' | '*' ]? '='
<attr-modifier> = i | s

Description

There are several unusual effects and outcomes when using :not() that you should keep in mind when using it:

  • The :not pseudo-class may not be nested, which means that :not(:not(...)) is invalid.
  • Useless selectors can be written using this pseudo-class. For example, :not(*) matches any element which is not an element, which is obviously nonsense, so the accompanying rule will never be applied.
  • This pseudo-class can increase the specificity of a rule. For example, #foo:not(#bar) will match the same element as the simpler #foo, but has a higher specificity.
  • :not(.foo) will match anything that isn't .foo, including <html> and <body>.
  • This selector only applies to one element; you cannot use it to exclude all ancestors. For instance, body :not(table) a will still apply to links inside of a table, since <tr> will match with the :not() part of the selector.
  • Using two selectors at the same time is not yet supported in all browsers. Example: :not(.foo, .bar). For wider support you could use, :not(.foo):not(.bar)

Examples

Basic set of :not() examples

HTML

<p>I am a paragraph.</p>
<p class="fancy">I am so very fancy!</p>
<div>I am NOT a paragraph.</div>
<h2>
  <span class="foo">foo inside h2</span>
  <span class="bar">bar inside h2</span>
</h2>

CSS

.fancy {
  text-shadow: 2px 2px 3px gold;
}

/* <p> elements that are not in the class `.fancy` */
p:not(.fancy) {
  color: green;
}

/* Elements that are not <p> elements */
body :not(p) {
  text-decoration: underline;
}

/* Elements that are not <div> and not <span> elements */
body :not(div):not(span) {
  font-weight: bold;
}

/* Elements that are not <div>s or `.fancy` */
/* Note that this syntax is not well supported yet. */
body :not(div, .fancy) {
  text-decoration: overline underline;
}

/* Elements inside an <h2> that aren't a <span> with a class of foo. */
/* Complex selectors such as an element with a class are not well supported yet. */
h2 :not(span.foo) {
  color: red;
}

Result

Specifications

Specification
Selectors Level 4 (Selectors 4)
# negation

Browser compatibility

BCD tables only load in the browser

See also