CSS Lists

The CSS list properties allow you to:

  • Set different list item markers for ordered lists
  • Set different list item markers for unordered lists
  • Set an image as the list item marker


In HTML, there are two types of lists:

  • unordered lists – the list items are marked with bullets
  • ordered lists – the list items are marked with numbers or letters

With CSS, lists can be styled further, and images can be used as the list item marker.

Different List Item Markers

The type of list item marker is specified with the list-style-type property:

ul.a {list-style-type: circle;}
ul.b {list-style-type: square;}
ol.c {list-style-type: upper-roman;}
ol.d {list-style-type: lower-alpha;}

Some of the values are for unordered lists, and some for ordered lists.

An Image as The List Item Marker

To specify an image as the list item marker, use the list-style-image property:

list-style-image: url('sqpurple.gif');

The example above does not display equally in all browsers. IE and Opera will display the image-marker a little bit higher than Firefox, Chrome, and Safari.
If you want the image-marker to be placed equally in all browsers, a crossbrowser solution is explained below.

Crossbrowser Solution

The following example displays the image-marker equally in all browsers:

list-style-type: none;
padding: 0px;
margin: 0px;
ul li
background-image: url(sqpurple.gif);
background-repeat: no-repeat;
background-position: 0px 5px; 
padding-left: 14px; 

Example explained:

  • For ul:
    • Set the list-style-type to none to remove the list item marker
    • Set both padding and margin to 0px (for cross-browser compatibility)
  • For all li in ul:
    • Set the URL of the image, and show it only once (no-repeat)
    • Position the image where you want it (left 0px and down 5px)
    • Position the text in the list with padding-left

List – Shorthand property

It is also possible to specify all the list properties in one, single property. This is called a shorthand property.
The shorthand property used for lists, is the list-style property:

list-style: square url("sqpurple.gif");

When using the shorthand property, the order of the values are:

  • list-style-type
  • list-style-position (for a description, see the CSS properties table below)
  • list-style-image

It does not matter if one of the values above are missing, as long as the rest are in the specified order.

All CSS List Properties

Property Description
list-style Sets all the properties for a list in one declaration
list-style-image Specifies an image as the list-item marker
list-style-position Specifies if the list-item markers should appear inside or outside the content flow
list-style-type Specifies the type of list-item marker
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