:nth-child()

The :nth-child() CSS pseudo-class matches elements based on their position in a group of siblings.

/* Selects every fourth element
   among any group of siblings */
:nth-child(4n) {
  color: lime;
}

Syntax

The nth-child pseudo-class is specified with a single argument, which represents the pattern for matching elements.

Keyword values

odd
Represents elements whose numeric position in a series of siblings is odd: 1, 3, 5, etc.
even
Represents elements whose numeric position in a series of siblings is even: 2, 4, 6, etc.

Functional notation

<An+B>
Represents elements whose numeric position in a series of siblings matches the pattern An+B, for every positive integer or zero value of n. The index of the first element is 1, and n  in the formula starts counting in 0. The values A and B must both be <integer>s.

Formal syntax

:nth-child( <nth> [ of <complex-selector-list> ]? )

where
<nth> = <an-plus-b> | even | odd
<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

Examples

Example selectors

tr:nth-child(odd) or tr:nth-child(2n+1)
Represents the odd rows of an HTML table: 1, 3, 5, etc.
tr:nth-child(even) or tr:nth-child(2n)
Represents the even rows of an HTML table: 2, 4, 6, etc.
:nth-child(7)
Represents the seventh element.
:nth-child(5n)
Represents elements 5 [=5×1], 10 [=5×2], 15 [=5×3], etc.  The first one to be returned as a result of the formula is 0 [=5x0], resulting in a no-match, since the elements are indexed from 1 although the formula starts with 0. This can be a little weird for beginners, but should taken into account. When the b part of the formula is >0, it makes more sense. See the next example selector.
:nth-child(3n+4)
Represents elements 4 [=(3×0)+4], 7 [=(3×1)+4], 10 [=(3×2)+4], 13 [=(3×3)+4], etc.
:nth-child(-n+3)
Represents the first three elements. [=-0+3, -1+3, -2+3]
p:nth-child(n)
Represents every <p> element in a group of siblings. This selects the same elements as a simple p selector (although with a higher specificity).
p:nth-child(1) or p:nth-child(0n+1)
Represents every <p> that is the first element in a group of siblings. This is the same as the :first-child selector (and has the same specificity).
p:nth-child(n+8):nth-child(-n+15)
Represents the eighth through the fifteenth <p> elements of a group of siblings.

Detailed example

HTML

<h3><code>span:nth-child(2n+1)</code>, WITHOUT an
   <code>&lt;em&gt;</code> among the child elements.</h3>
<p>Children 1, 3, 5, and 7 are selected.</p>
<div class="first">
  <span>Span 1!</span>
  <span>Span 2</span>
  <span>Span 3!</span>
  <span>Span 4</span>
  <span>Span 5!</span>
  <span>Span 6</span>
  <span>Span 7!</span>
</div>

<br>

<h3><code>span:nth-child(2n+1)</code>, WITH an
   <code>&lt;em&gt;</code> among the child elements.</h3>
<p>Children 1, 5, and 7 are selected.<br>
   3 is used in the counting because it is a child, but it isn't
   selected because it isn't a <code>&lt;span&gt;</code>.</p>
<div class="second">
  <span>Span!</span>
  <span>Span</span>
  <em>This is an `em`.</em>
  <span>Span</span>
  <span>Span!</span>
  <span>Span</span>
  <span>Span!</span>
  <span>Span</span>
</div>

<br>

<h3><code>span:nth-of-type(2n+1)</code>, WITH an
   <code>&lt;em&gt;</code> among the child elements.</h3>
<p>Children 1, 4, 6, and 8 are selected.<br>
   3 isn't used in the counting or selected because it is an <code>&lt;em&gt;</code>, 
   not a <code>&lt;span&gt;</code>, and <code>nth-of-type</code> only selects
   children of that type. The <code>&lt;em&gt;</code> is completely skipped
   over and ignored.</p>
<div class="third">
  <span>Span!</span>
  <span>Span</span>
  <em>This is an `em`.</em>
  <span>Span!</span>
  <span>Span</span>
  <span>Span!</span>
  <span>Span</span>
  <span>Span!</span>
</div>

CSS

html {
  font-family: sans-serif;
}

span,
div em {
  padding: 5px;
  border: 1px solid green;
  display: inline-block;
  margin-bottom: 3px;
}

.first span:nth-child(2n+1),
.second span:nth-child(2n+1),
.third span:nth-of-type(2n+1) {
  background-color: lime;
}

Result

Specifications

Specification Status Comment
Selectors Level 4
The definition of ':nth-child' in that specification.
Working Draft Adds of <selector> syntax and specifies that matching elements are not required to have a parent.
Selectors Level 3
The definition of ':nth-child' in that specification.
Recommendation Initial definition.

Browser compatibility

Update compatibility data on GitHub
DesktopMobile
ChromeEdgeFirefoxInternet ExplorerOperaSafariAndroid webviewChrome for AndroidFirefox for AndroidOpera for AndroidSafari on iOSSamsung Internet
:nth-child()Chrome Full support 1Edge Full support 12Firefox Full support 3.5IE Full support 9Opera Full support 9.5
Notes
Full support 9.5
Notes
Notes Before Opera 15, Opera does not handle dynamically inserted elements for :nth-child().
Safari Full support 3.1WebView Android Full support ≤37Chrome Android Full support 18Firefox Android Full support 4Opera Android Full support 10.1
Notes
Full support 10.1
Notes
Notes Before Opera 15, Opera does not handle dynamically inserted elements for :nth-child().
Safari iOS Full support 3.1Samsung Internet Android Full support Yes
Matches elements with no parentChrome Full support 57Edge No support NoFirefox Full support 52IE No support NoOpera Full support 44Safari No support NoWebView Android Full support 57Chrome Android Full support 57Firefox Android Full support 52Opera Android Full support 43Safari iOS No support NoSamsung Internet Android Full support 7.0
of <selector> syntaxChrome No support No
Notes
No support No
Notes
Notes See bug 304163.
Edge No support NoFirefox No support No
Notes
No support No
Notes
Notes See bug 854148.
IE No support NoOpera No support NoSafari Full support 9WebView Android No support NoChrome Android No support NoFirefox Android No support No
Notes
No support No
Notes
Notes See bug 854148.
Opera Android No support NoSafari iOS Full support 9Samsung Internet Android No support No

Legend

Full support  
Full support
No support  
No support
See implementation notes.
See implementation notes.

See also