CSS Experiment: Centered Ordered List with List Content below its List Number

Wait. Why does a CSS article show up on a WordPress development blog?

Well first of all I stumbled upon this trick accidentally while developing this one theme I’m working on. And also I promise it will be short and simple enough. So do read on.

For the theme I want to display a Table of Content-style home page that will look like this (click the image to view full-size):

Centered ordered list with list content below its list number

That is a centered ordered list with list content below its number. The HTML structure I have is:

  <ol id="toc" class="clearfloat">       
    <li><h2><a href="#">I Learned that Adding an Egg to Ramen Soup is Awesome</a></h2></li> 
    <li><h2><a href="#">Why I believe printers are the spawn of Hell</a></h2></li> 
    <li><h2><a href="#">I nominate the most dangerous enemy ever created.</a></h2></li> 

…and so, the CSS.

This gets me curious because as we all know, list numbers normally show up to the left of the text. After a bunch of crazy experiments, some of which kept me puzzled about what really happened, I got this solution (leaving out the various text-formatting codes):

body {
  counter-reset: toc 0;  
#toc li:before {
  content: counter(toc, lower-roman) ".";
  counter-increment: toc;
#toc li {
  list-style-type: none; /* hide the numbers, show them via the toc li:before above */
  text-align: center;

Here’s the main idea. I found out that if I use list-style-type:none and use generated content to display the numbers, the number will show up on top of the text. Great. Next we add text-align: center; and bam, everything is centered nicely as expected.

This is the first time I learned about counter-reset and counter-increment. They basically allow you to set the starting number on a list. I use 0 in my CSS so mine starts from 1, but that number can be anything. Here are some articles I found about this topic:

Results and Demo

Here’s a demo page for this CSS experiment. I’ve tested it and it works on Firefox 3.5, Opera 10, Chrome 3 and Safari 4. IE 8 doesn’t seem to support content, so it won’t show the generated number. I can live with that.

And that’s it. Hope it can be useful! I’ll release the theme pretty soon, so subscribe to the feed if you want to be updated.

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2 Responses

  1. anima says:

    interesting, I’ve never seen anything like that before. definitely bookmarked!