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::first-letter is a pseudo element which allows you to style the first letter in an element, without needing to stick a <span> around that first letter in your HTML. While no tags are added to the DOM, it is as if the targeted first letter were encompassed in a<firstletter> tag. You can style that first letter as you would a real element with:

p::first-letter {
  font-weight: bold;
  color: red;
 The first letter is bold and red

The result is as if you had a faux element around the first letter:

 he first letter is bold and red

The first letter is bold and red

  • The pseudo element only works if the parent element is a block container box (in other words, it doesn’t work on the first letter of display: inline; elements.)
  • If you have both a ::first-letter and ::first-line on an element, the first letter will inherit from the first line styles, but styles on the ::first-letter will overwrite when styles conflict.
  • If you generate content with ::before, the first letter or punctuation character, whether it’s part of the original text node or created with generated content, will be the target.

Browser Support

Things to note:

  • For Internet Explorer 8 and down, you need to use a single colon :first-letterinstead of the double-colon notation.
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