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Braydon Coyer
Braydon Coyer

Posted on • Updated on • Originally published at

Change Text Highlight Color with CSS

I’m pretty active on CodePen. A few months ago, I posted a pen that demonstrates how to change the highlight color of text on the page. I thought it may be neat to write up a short article that will walk you through the basics, and then go a bit deeper with CSS variables.

The Basics

It’s pretty simple. To change the color of the highlighted-text, simply target the ::selection selector and then define the color of the background property.

Check out the snippet below.

::selection {
  background: red;

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Screen Shot 2020-10-19 at 1.50.54 PM.png

Diving Deeper

Now that we know how easy it is to change the highlight color, let’s take it a step further and rotate colors by utilizing a bit of JavaScript and a single CSS variable.

First, in your JavaScript, define an array of strings - each item in the array is a hexadecimal color value.

Here’s my array:

const colors = ["#c1b001", "#a8140e", "#4315aa", "#359d09", "#8f4762"];
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We want to randomly assign a color from the array to our CSS variable when the user has their mouse button down to select some text.

In order to do this, we need to create a new event listener and listen for the mousedown event.

Here’s my event listener:

window.addEventListener("mousedown", () => {
 // code will go here

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Now that we have this event set up, there’s three things we need to do:

  1. Grab and remove the first color from the array
  2. Set the CSS variable with the value we get back from the array
  3. Push the color variable from step 1 so it is now on the bottom of the array

This will gives us the rotating color functionality.
Here’s my completed function:

window.addEventListener("mousedown", (e) => {
  const color = colors.shift();"--highlight-color", color);

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We’ve referenced a CSS variable named —highlight-color but have not defined it yet.

In your CSS, define the variable and initialize it to null.

:root {
  --highlight-color: null;
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Finally, target the ::selection selector and set the background property to the value in the CSS variable.

::selection {
  background: var(--highlight-color);
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And there we go! Here's the final pen - feel free to try it out!

See the Pen 🎨 Text Highlight Color Change 🎨 by Braydon Coyer
(@braydoncoyer) on CodePen.

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