CSS Property: content

Though I’ve heard that CSS can insert content to avoid repetitive typing, I had not put this technique to use. Until today. While updating our state museum’s Press Releases and Artist Opportunities pages this morning, I found this property came in handy for two uses:

  • displaying URLs when a user wants to print a webpage with links
  • adding a clear notation that declares the link s/he is clicking is a PDF

Displaying URLs in Print

When adding a link within a paragraph or list, best practice toward screen readers users is to offer a clear title and avoid having the link repeated to those users. However, what about users who want to print our webpage? The “content” property saves the day in this situation. I added this bit of code inside my global print stylesheet to allow print-off users to see what URL we are directing them to:

/* display address after link */
    content: " [ "attr(href)" ]";

Print preview results show just what I want to see:

URLs appear after links under Sheldon Jackson section

Concatenating with CSS

Another time-saving use of the content property was adding “[PDF]” to the end of all my links. To add this bit of text to all of our PDF links, I added this bit of code to the main stylesheet to target any link that ended in “.pdf”:

/* accessibility feature: adds [PDF] to documents of pdf format */
    content:" [PDF]";

Now “[PDF]” appears after each hyperlinked PDF file within the Museum’s website:

[PDF] text appears after each link

A skilled coder can put to practice the mantra of “don’t repeat yourself”. And this CSS property is one of the better tools to accomplish the D.R.Y. strategy.


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