Styling Code Snippets with CSS

Styling Code Snippets with CSS

Styling Code Snippets with CSS

Although there are many useful plug-ins out there that dress up code snippets, I would like to share a technique playing with the background of the <pre> and <code> tag with CSS.

View Demo

Common Problem with FireFox

When trying to add some padding to the <pre> tag, FireFox creates a cross-browser bug where it interferes with the spaces created by the space or tab bar. See below for an example.


We can go around this issue by nesting the <code> tag within the <pre> tag and specifying a margin in <code>.


Start out by placing your code snippet in between the <pre> and <code> tag. Note that anything inside of the <pre> tag is preserved (spaces and line breaks).

<pre><code>.classname {
	/*--Code Goes Here--*/
	/*--Code Goes Here--*/
	/*--Code Goes Here--*/
	/*--Code Goes Here--*/


pre {
	font-size: 12px;
	padding: 0;
	margin: 0;
	background: #f0f0f0;
	border-left: 1px solid #ccc;
	border-bottom: 1px solid #ccc;
	line-height: 20px; /*--Height of each line of code--*/
	background: url(pre_code_bg.gif) repeat-y left top; /*--Background of lined paper--*/
	width: 600px;
	overflow: auto; /*--If the Code exceeds the width, a scrolling is available--*/
	overflow-Y: hidden;  /*--Hides vertical scroll created by IE--*/
pre code {
	margin: 0 0 0 40px;  /*--Left Margin--*/
	padding: 18px 0;
	display: block;

Make <pre> Tags Print Friendly

To make <pre> tags print friendly and make the code wrap to the next line, Tyler at shared a great technique to tackle this issue. If you are new to print style sheets, check out my previous tutorial.


pre {
	overflow-x: auto; /* Use horizontal scroller if needed; for Firefox 2, not needed in Firefox 3 */
	white-space: pre-wrap; /* css-3 */
	white-space: -moz-pre-wrap !important; /* Mozilla, since 1999 */
	white-space: -pre-wrap; /* Opera 4-6 */
	white-space: -o-pre-wrap; /* Opera 7 */ /*
	width: 99%; */
	word-wrap: break-word; /* Internet Explorer 5.5+ */


If you haven’t dressed up your code snippets yet, now is a good time. Feel free to take the background images of my samples as well. If you have any questions or know of any other techniques, please share them!


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