Cascading Style Sheets Level 2 Revision 1 (CSS 2.1) Specification

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Bert Bos <>
Tantek Çelik <>
Ian Hickson <>
Håkon Wium Lie <>

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This specification defines Cascading Style Sheets, level 2 revision 1 (CSS 2.1). CSS 2.1 is a style sheet language that allows authors and users to attach style (e.g., fonts and spacing) to structured documents (e.g., HTML documents and XML applications). By separating the presentation style of documents from the content of documents, CSS 2.1 simplifies Web authoring and site maintenance.

CSS 2.1 builds on CSS2 [CSS2] which builds on CSS1 [CSS1]. It supports media-specific style sheets so that authors may tailor the presentation of their documents to visual browsers, aural devices, printers, braille devices, handheld devices, etc. It also supports content positioning, table layout, features for internationalization and some properties related to user interface.

CSS 2.1 corrects a few errors in CSS2 (the most important being a new definition of the height/width of absolutely positioned elements, more influence for HTML's "style" attribute and a new calculation of the 'clip' property), and adds a few highly requested features which have already been widely implemented. But most of all CSS 2.1 represents a "snapshot" of CSS usage: it consists of all CSS features that are implemented interoperably at the date of publication of the Recommendation.

CSS 2.1 is derived from and is intended to replace CSS2. Some parts of CSS2 are unchanged in CSS 2.1, some parts have been altered, and some parts removed. The removed portions may be used in a future CSS3 specification. Future specs should refer to CSS 2.1 (unless they need features from CSS2 which have been dropped in CSS 2.1, and then they should only reference CSS2 for those features, or preferably reference such feature(s) in the respective CSS3 Module that includes those feature(s)).

Status of this document

This is the editor's draft of the next version of this specification. It is not a W3C Technical Report. The CSS working group has decided to make it available, but has not fully reviewed it. It is very likely to contain editing errors.

Candidate Recommendation Exit Criteria

For this specification to be proposed as a W3C Recommendation, the following conditions shall be met. There must be at least two independent, interoperable implementations of each feature. Each feature may be implemented by a different set of products, there is no requirement that all features be implemented by a single product. For the purposes of this criterion, we define the following terms:

each implementation must be developed by a different party and cannot share, reuse, or derive from code used by another qualifying implementation. Sections of code that have no bearing on the implementation of this specification are exempt from this requirement.
passing the respective test case(s) in the official CSS test suite, or, if the implementation is not a Web browser, an equivalent test. Every relevant test in the test suite should have an equivalent test created if such a user agent (UA) is to be used to claim interoperability. In addition if such a UA is to be used to claim interoperability, then there must one or more additional UAs which can also pass those equivalent tests in the same way for the purpose of interoperability. The equivalent tests must be made publicly available for the purposes of peer review.
a user agent which:
  1. implements the specification.
  2. is available to the general public. The implementation may be a shipping product or other publicly available version (i.e., beta version, preview release, or “nightly build”).
  3. is not experimental (i.e., a version specifically designed to pass the test suite and is not intended for normal usage going forward).

A minimum of six months of the CR period must have elapsed. This is to ensure that enough time is given for any remaining major errors to be caught.

Features will be dropped if two or more interoperable implementations are not found by the end of the CR period.

Features may/will also be dropped if adequate/sufficient (by judgment of CSS WG) tests have not been produced for those feature(s) by the end of the CR period.

Features at risk

The working group has identified the following features as being currently poorly implemented by UAs. They are therefore most at risk of being removed from CSS 2.1 when exiting CR. (Any changes of this nature will still result in the specification being returned to last call.) Implementors are urged to implement these features, or correct bugs in their implementations, if they wish to see these features remain in this specification.

New 'list-style-type' values

Implementors are advised to look at CSS3 Lists instead, where these and many other new values not found in CSS1 are defined in detail. [CSS3LIST]

Support for multiple ID attributes for the ID selector

Because implementations are not expected to support multiple IDs per element soon, this feature may be made informative. The W3C Selectors specification will continue to have this feature normatively. (Section 5.9.)

Automatic table layout algorithm

The input to the suggested (non-normative) automatic layout algorithm for tables is restricted to (1) the containing block width and (2) the content and properties of the table and its children. This restriction may be lifted.


The 'quotes' property and the 'open-quote', 'close-quote', 'no-open-quote' and 'no-close-quote' keywords may be dropped.

BODY element in XHTML

The effect of 'overflow' and 'background' is different on BODY elements in HTML than on other elements. It may be that the exceptional handling of BODY in HTML is extended to BODY in XHTML1.

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