Understanding the “Initial”, “Inherit” and “Unset” CSS Keywords

The Basic Styles of the Web

The Initial Value of Every Property in CSS

Line-height’s inital value is “nornal”

The User-Agent Browser Styles

h1 element styles from the chrome browser user agent

The Inherit Keyword

CSS Initial Keyword

  • The color property’s initial value will always be black
background-color: red;
display: initial; /* will be equal to inline and not to block */
display initial value — info in MDN

The Unset Keyword

  • Inherited properties — properties that affect their children. All the properties which affect text have this natural behavior. For example, if we define a font-size on the HTML element, it will apply to all HTML elements until you set another font-size on an inner HTML element style.
font-size inherit property — taken from MDN
  • Non-inherited properties — All the other natural properties, which affect only the element which they define. These are all of the properties that don’t apply to text. For example, if you put a border on a parent element, its child will not get a border.
border un-inherit property — taken from MDN
color: unset; /* will be equal to 'inherit' value */
display: unset; /* will be equal to 'initial' value*/

Why Use Unset if it Works Exactly the Same as Inherit and Initial?

/* Bad */
.common-content *{
font-size: inherit;
font-weight: inherit;
border-width: initial;
background-color: initial;
/* Good */
.common-content *{
all: unset;

The Revert Keyword

HTML div tag’s user agent’s base style
display: revert; /* = block */
font-weight: revert; /* = bold */
font-size: revert; /* = 2em */
/* Good */
.common-content *{
all: revert;

Browser Support

  • inherit — works in all browsers, including Internet Explorer 11
  • initial & unset & revert— work in all browsers except for Internet Explorer 11

Final Words

Video Talk on This Subject:

My talk: “The CSS Keywords That No One Really Understands




CSS & HTML Expert

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Elad Shechter

Elad Shechter

CSS & HTML Expert

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