CSS Outline

An outline is a line that is drawn just outside the border edge of the elements such as buttons, active form fields, etc., to make them stand out.

Outlines Vs Borders

The outlines are generally used to highlight elements. An outline at a glance looks very similar to the border, but it differs from border in the following ways:

  • Outlines do not take up space, because they always placed on top of the box of the element which may cause them to overlap other elements on the page.
  • Unlike borders, outlines won’t allow us to set each edge to a different width, or set different colors and styles for each edge. An outline is the same on all sides.
  • Outlines don’t have any impact on surrounding elements apart from overlapping.
  • Unlike borders, outlines don’t change the size or position of the element.
  • Outlines may be non-rectangular.

Note:If you put an outline on an element, it will take up the same amount of space on the web pages as if you didn’t have an outline on that element.

The outline-width Property

The outline-width property specifies the width of the outline to be added on an element. Its value should be, a CSS length (px, pt, em, and so on) or one of the allowed keywords, but percentage or negative values are not allowed. Just like the border-width property.


Note:If the value for the outline-width is missing or not specified, the default value (medium) of the outline-width will be will be used instead.

The outline-style Property

The outline-style property sets the style for an outline such as: solid, dotted, etc.

The outline-style property may take one of the following values: none, hidden, dashed,dotted, double, groove, inset, outset, ridge and solid. Just like border-style property.

none: Defines no outline.

hidden: Defines hidden outline.

dotted: Defines a dotted outline

dashed: Defines a dashed outline

solid: Defines a solid outline

double: Defines two outlines. The width of the two outlines are same as the outline-width value

groove: Defines a 3D grooved outline. The effect depends on the outline-color value

ridge: Defines a 3D ridged outline. The effect depends on the outline-color value

inset: Defines a 3D inset outline. The effect depends on the outline-color value

outset: Defines a 3D outset outline. The effect depends on the outline-color value

The outline-color Property

The outline-color property sets the color of an outline.

You can also set the outline-color to transparent.

Note:The outline-color property does not work if it is used alone. Use theoutline-style property to set the outlines first.

The outline Shorthand Property

The outline CSS property is a shorthand property for setting one or more of the individual outline properties outline-style, outline-width and outline-color in a single rule.

If the value for an individual outline property is omitted or not specified while setting the outline shorthand property, the default value for that property will be used instead, if any.

Note:If the value for the outline-color property is missing or not specified when setting the outlines for an element (e.g. outline:5px solid;) the element’s color property will be used as the value for the outline-color.

In the example below, the outline will be a solid black line of 5px width:

But, in the case of outline-style, omitting the value will cause no outline to show at all, because the default value for outline-style property is none.

In the example below, there will be no outline:

Warning:Internet Explorer 7 and earlier versions don’t support the outlineproperty. IE8 supports the outline property only if a <!DOCTYPE> is specified.

Removing Dotted Line Around Active Links

The outline property is widely used to remove the dotted line around active links.