Change link color of the current page with CSS


How does one style links for the current page differently from others? I would like to swap the colors of the text and background.

HTML:

<ul id="navigation">
    <li class="a"><a href="/">Home</a></li>
    <li class="b"><a href="theatre.php">Theatre</a></li>
    <li class="c"><a href="programming.php">Programming</a></li> 
</ul>

CSS:

li a{
    color:#A60500;
}

li a:hover{
    color:#640200;
    background-color:#000000;
}

a:active : when you click on the link and hold it (active!).
a:visited : when the link has already been visited.

If you want the link corresponding to the current page to be highlighted, you can define some specific style to the link -

.currentLink {
   color: #640200;
   background-color: #000000;
}

Add this new class only to the corresponding li (link), either on server-side or on client-side (using JavaScript).


With jQuery you could use the .each function to iterate through the links with the following code:

$(document).ready(function() {
    $("[href]").each(function() {
        if (this.href == window.location.href) {
            $(this).addClass("active");
        }
    });
});

Depending on your page structure and used links, you may have to narrow down the selection of links like:

$("nav [href]").each ...

If you are using URL parameters, it may be necessary to strip these:

if (this.href.split("?")[0] == window.location.href.split("?")[0]) ...

This way you don't have to edit each page.


It is possible to achieve this without having to modify each page individually (adding a 'current' class to a specific link), but still without JS or a server-side script. This uses the :target pseudo selector, which relies on #someid appearing in the addressbar.

<!DOCTYPE>
<html>
<head>
    <title>Some Title</title>
<style>
:target {
    background-color: yellow;
}
</style>
</head>
<body>
<ul>
    <li><a id="news" href="news.html#news">News</a></li>
    <li><a id="games" href="games.html#games">Games</a></li>
    <li><a id="science" href="science.html#science">Science</a></li>
</ul>
<h1>Stuff about science</h1>
<p>lorem ipsum blah blah</p>
</body>
</html>

There are a couple of restrictions:

  • If the page wasn't navigated to using one of these links it won't be coloured;
  • The ids need to occur at the top of the page otherwise the page will jump down a bit when visited.

As long as any links to these pages include the id, and the navbar is at the top, it shouldn't be a problem.


Other in-page links (bookmarks) will also cause the colour to be lost.


JavaScript will get the job done.

Get all links in the document and compare their reference URLs to the document's URL. If there is a match, add a class to that link.

JavaScript

<script>
    currentLinks = document.querySelectorAll('a[href="'+document.URL+'"]')
    currentLinks.forE??ach(function(link) {
        link.className += ' current-link')
    });
</script>

One Liner Version of Above

document.querySelectorAll('a[href="'+document.URL+'"]').forE??ach(function(elem){e??lem.className += ' current-link')});

CSS

.current-link {
    color:#baada7;
}

Other Notes

Taraman's jQuery answer above only searches on [href] which will return link tags and tags other than a which rely on the href attribute. Searching on a[href='*https://urlofcurrentpage.com*'] captures only those links which meets the criteria and therefore runs faster.

In addtion, if you don't need to rely on the jQuery library, a vanilla JavaScript solution is definitely the way to go.


a:link -> It defines the style for unvisited links.

a:hover -> It defines the style for hovered links.

A link is hovered when the mouse moves over it.


Best and easiest solution:

For each page you want your respective link to change color to until switched, put an internal style in EACH PAGE for the VISITED attribute and make each an individual class in order to differentiate between links so you don't apply the feature to all accidentally. We'll use white as an example:

<style type="text/css">
.link1 a:visited {color:#FFFFFF;text-decoration:none;} 
</style>

For all other attributes such as LINK, ACTIVE and HOVER, you can keep those in your style.css. You'll want to include a VISITED there as well for the color you want the link to turn back to when you click a different link.


include this! on your page where you want to change the colors save as .php

<?php include("includes/navbar.php"); ?>

then add a new file in an includes folder.

includes/navbar.php

<div <?php //Using REQUEST_URI

$currentpage = $_SERVER['REQUEST_URI'];

if(preg_match("/index/i", $currentpage)||($currentpage=="/"))
    echo " class=\"navbarorange/*the css class for your nav div*/\" ";
elseif(preg_match("/about/*or second page name*//i", $currentpage))
    echo " class=\"navbarpink\" ";
elseif(preg_match("/contact/* or edit 3rd page name*//i", $currentpage))
    echo " class=\"navbargreen\" ";?> >
</div>

N 1.1's answer is correct. In addition, I've written a small JavaScript function to extract the current link from a list, which will save you the trouble of modifying each page to know its current link.

<script type="text/javascript">

function getCurrentLinkFrom(links){

    var curPage = document.URL;
    curPage = curPage.substr(curPage.lastIndexOf("/")) ;

    links.each(function(){
        var linkPage = $(this).attr("href");
        linkPage = linkPage.substr(linkPage.lastIndexOf("/"));
        if (curPage == linkPage){
            return $(this);
        }
    });
};

$(document).ready(function(){
    var currentLink = getCurrentLinkFrom($("navbar a"));
    currentLink.addClass("current_link") ;
});
</script>

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN">
<html><head>

<style type="text/css"><!--

.class1 A:link {text-decoration: none; background:#1C1C1C url(..../images/menu-bg.jpg) center top no-repeat; border-left: 4px solid #333333; border-right: 4px solid #333333; border-top: 3px solid #333333;  border-bottom: 4px solid #333333;}

.class1 A:visited {text-decoration: none; background:#1C1C1C url(..../images/menu-bg.jpg) center top no-repeat; border-left: 4px solid #333333; border-right: 4px solid #333333; border-top: 3px solid #333333;  border-bottom: 4px solid #333333;}

.class1 A:hover {text-decoration: none; background:#1C1C1C url(..../images/menu-bg.jpg) center top no-repeat; border-left: 3px solid #0000FF; border-right: 3px solid #0000FF; border-top: 2px solid #0000FF;  border-bottom: 2px solid #0000FF;}

.class1 A:active {text-decoration: none; background:#1C1C1C url(..../images/menu-bg.jpg) center top no-repeat; border-left: 3px solid #0000FF; border-right: 3px solid #0000FF; border-top: 2px solid #0000FF;  border-bottom: 2px solid #0000FF;}

#nav_menu .current {text-decoration: none; background:#1C1C1C url(..../images/menu-bg.jpg) center top no-repeat; border-left: 3px solid #FF0000; border-right: 3px solid #FF0000; border-top: 2px solid #FF0000;  border-bottom: 2px solid #FF0000;}


a:link {text-decoration:none;}

a:visited {text-decoration:none;}

a:hover {text-decoration:none;}

a:active {text-decoration:none;}

--></style>

</head>

<body style="background:#000000 url('...../images/bg.jpg') repeat-y top center fixed; width="100%" align="center">

<table style="table-layout:fixed; border:0px" width=100% height=100% border=0 cellspacing=0 cellpadding=0 align=center><tr>

<td style="background: url(...../images/menu_bg-menu.jpg) center no-repeat;" "border:0px" width="100%" height="100%" align="center" valign="middle">

<span class="class1" id="nav_menu">

<a href="http://Yourhomepage-url.com/" ***class="current"*** target="_parent"><font face="Georgia" color="#0000FF" size="2"><b>&nbsp;&nbsp;Home&nbsp;&nbsp;</b></font></a>

&nbsp;&nbsp;

<a href="http://Yourhomepage-url.com/yourfaqspage-url.php_or_.html" target="_parent"><font face="Georgia" color="#0000FF" size="2"><b>&nbsp;&nbsp;FAQs page&nbsp;&nbsp;</b></font></a>

&nbsp;&nbsp;

<a href="http://Yourhomepage-url.com/youraboutpage-url.php_or_.html" target="_parent"><font face="Georgia" color="#0000FF" size="2"><b>&nbsp;&nbsp;About&nbsp;&nbsp;</b></font></a>

&nbsp;&nbsp;

<a href="http://Yourhomepage-url.com/yourcontactpage-url.php_or_.html" target="_parent"><font face="Georgia" color="#0000FF" size="2"><b>&nbsp;&nbsp;Contact&nbsp;&nbsp;</b></font></a>
</span>

</td></tr></table></body></html>

Note: the style goes in between the head tag (<head> .... </head>) and the class="class1" and the id="nav_menu" goes in the ie: (-- <span class="class1" id="nav_menu"> --).

Then the last class attribute (class="current") goes in the hyper-link code of the link in the page that you want the active current link to correspond to.

Example: You want the link tab to stay active or highlighted when it's correspondent page is whats currently in view, go to that page itself and place the class="current" attribute by it's link's html code. Only in the page that corresponds to the link so that when ever that page is at view, the tab will stay highlighted or stand out different from the rest of the tabs.

For the Home page, go to the home page and place the class in it. example: <a href="http://Yourhomepage-url.com/" class="current" target="_parent">

For the About page, go to the about page and place the class in it. example: <a href="http://Yourhomepage-url.com/youraboutpage-url.php_or_.html" class="current" target="_parent">

For the Contact page, go to the contact page and place the class in it. example: <a href="http://Yourhomepage-url.com/youraboutpage-url.php_or_.html" class="current" target="_parent">

etc ......

Notice the example Table above;- Lets assume this was the Home page, so on this page, only the Home url link section has the class="current"

Sorry for any meaning-less error, am not a prof. but this worked for me and displays fine in almost all the browsers tested, including ipad, and smart phones. Hope this will help some-one out here because is very frustrating to want to and not able to. I had tried so had to get to this, and so far it's good for me.


@Presto Thanks! Yours worked perfectly for me, but I came up with a simpler version to save changing everything around.

Add a <span> tag around the desired link text, specifying class within. (e.g. home tag)

<nav id="top-menu">
    <ul>
        <li> <a href="home.html"><span class="currentLink">Home</span></a> </li>
        <li> <a href="about.html">About</a> </li>
        <li> <a href="cv.html">CV</a> </li>
        <li> <a href="photos.html">Photos</a> </li>
        <li> <a href="archive.html">Archive</a> </li>
        <li> <a href="contact.html">Contact</a></li>
    </ul>
</nav>

Then edit your CSS accordingly:

.currentLink {
    color:#baada7;
}

You do not need jQuery just to do this! All you need is a tiny and very light vanilla Javascript and a css class (as in all the answers above) :

  • First define a CSS class in your stylesheet called current.

  • Second add the following pure JavaScript either in your existing JavaScript file or in a separate js script file (but add script tage link to it in the head of the pages) or event just add it in a script tag just before the closing body tag, it will still work in all these cases.



    function highlightCurrent() {
         const curPage = document.URL;
         const links = document.getElementsByTagName('a');
         for (let link of links) {
           if (link.href == curPage) {
             link.classList.add("current");
           }
         }
       }


       document.onreadystatechange = () => {
         if (document.readyState === 'complete') {
           highlightCurrent()
         }
       };

The 'href' attribute of current link should be the absolute path as given by document.URL (console.log it to make sure it is the same)


Use single class name something like class="active" and add it only to current page instead of all pages. If you are at Home something like below:

<ul id="navigation">
<li class="active"><a href="/">Home</a></li>
<li class=""><a href="theatre.php">Theatre</a></li>
<li class=""><a href="programming.php">Programming</a></li> 
</ul>

and your CSS like

li.active{
color: #640200;
}

So for example if you are trying to change the text of the anchor on the current page that you are on only using CSS, then here is a simple solution.

I want to change the the anchor text colour on my software page to light blue:

<div class="navbar">
    <ul>
       <a href="../index.html"><li>Home</li></a>
       <a href="usefulsites.html"><li>Useful Sites</li></a>
       <a href="software.html"><li class="currentpage">Software</li></a>
       <a href="workbench.html"><li>The Workbench</li></a>
       <a href="contact.php"><li>Contact</a></li></a>
    </ul>
</div>

And before anyone says that I got the <li> tags and the <a> tags mixed up, this is what makes it work as you are applying the value to the text itself only when you are on that page. Unfortunately, if you are using PHP to input header tags, then this will not work for obvious reasons. Then I put this in my style.css, with all my pages using the same style sheet:

.currentpage {
        color: lightblue;
}