Style External Links with CSS

By  on  

Styling external links is a common practice on most informational sites likes Wikipedia.  As a user, it's nice to know when you're being sent to another resource.  Many sites do the external links check on the server side, adding a `rel=external` attribute value or `external` class to external links.  In some cases that isn't possible or plausible.  After trolling around the interwebs, I found the following useful CSS snippet for styling external links:

/* long version */
a[href^="http://"]:not([href*="mysite.com"]),
a[href^="https://"]:not([href*="mysite.com"]), 
a[href^="//"]:not([href*="mysite.com"]), {
    
}
/* shorter version! */
a[href*="//"]:not([href*="mysite.com"]) {
    /* external link styles, use :before or :after if you want! */
}

First you have to qualify the start of the link, then qualify the domain.  Internal links wont match and external links wont match the comparison.  A useful snippet and something to keep in your library in case you need it!

Recent Features

  • By
    CSS @supports

    Feature detection via JavaScript is a client side best practice and for all the right reasons, but unfortunately that same functionality hasn't been available within CSS.  What we end up doing is repeating the same properties multiple times with each browser prefix.  Yuck.  Another thing we...

  • By
    Camera and Video Control with HTML5

    Client-side APIs on mobile and desktop devices are quickly providing the same APIs.  Of course our mobile devices got access to some of these APIs first, but those APIs are slowly making their way to the desktop.  One of those APIs is the getUserMedia API...

Incredible Demos

  • By
    Editable Content Using MooTools 1.2, PHP, and MySQL

    Everybody and their aerobics instructor wants to be able to edit their own website these days. And why wouldn't they? I mean, they have a $500 budget, no HTML/CSS experience, and extraordinary expectations. Enough ranting though. Having a website that allows for...

  • By
    Create a Spinning, Zooming Effect with CSS3

    In case you weren't aware, CSS animations are awesome.  They're smooth, less taxing than JavaScript, and are the future of node animation within browsers.  Dojo's mobile solution, dojox.mobile, uses CSS animations instead of JavaScript to lighten the application's JavaScript footprint.  One of my favorite effects...

Discussion

  1. What if there is a link in my website like http://external.com/?referer=mysite.com ?

    • You add can another pattern match for whichever referer pattern you use:

      a[href*="?referer"] {
       /* external styles */
      }
      
  2. Bruno Seixas

    Thanks for the snippets :)

  3. David, you can do the same with shorter selector:

    [href*="//"]:not([href*="mysite.com"]) { }
    
  4. Thanks for the code :)

  5. Nice snippets, I love this but how about browser compatibility?

  6. Bubba

    So, what styles are typically used for external websites? A change in font color? Background color?

  7. Is have used this slidely different for my wordpress site:

    /* show external links differently */
    a[href^="http://"]:not([href*="mydomain.com"]):before{ 
        content: " ";
        width: 16px;
        height: 16px;
        background: no-repeat url('images/link.gif'); 
        padding-right: 1.2em;
    }
    
  8. How to ignore Links With images?

    example: http://jsfiddle.net/Ridermansb/NRw97/1/

  9. Armin

    @Riderman You don’t. CSS is designed to to be applied in one traversal of the DOM tree. This limits it to selectors that are based solemnly on what was before (higher up) in the dom tree. You cannot select on what comes after/deeper in the DOM tree in CSS.

    In your example you are trying to style an a element based on the fact, that an img element is deeper in the tree.

    Solution: use a css-class for such a elements that should ignore the styling done through the [href=??] matching selectors.

    a.no-external-link-style {
    /*undo styling through a[href*=”//”]:not([href*=”mysite.com”]) */
    }

  10. tzee

    @Riderman Use JS / jQuery to add a class to links that wrap images, then add a css rule that removes or hides your :before, based on that class. I’m using :after, and FontAwesome..

    jQuery('a img').parent().addClass('linked-img');
    
    a[href*="//"]:not([href*="mysite.com"]):after { 
        font-family: FontAwesome;
        content: "\f08e";
        font-size: 13px;
        color: #ccc;
        padding-left: 7px;
    }
    a.linked-img:after {
    	display: none;
    }
    

Wrap your code in <pre class="{language}"></pre> tags, link to a GitHub gist, JSFiddle fiddle, or CodePen pen to embed!