How to Use the CSS Opacity Property

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In Brief...

CSS3's opacity property makes it easy to change the opacity of images, text, <div>s, and other elements. Where before we might have resorted to images with a semitransparent alpha setting, we can now change the opacity via CSS. Even better, we can change opacity more easily with :hover to create rollover effects. Let's look at an example:

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  1. Start with the following HTML page:
    <!DOCTYPE html>
    	<meta charset="utf-8">
    	<title>CSS3 Opacity</title>
    	<style type="text/css">
    		#caption {
    			background: #fff;
    			opacity: .5;
    		#caption:hover {
    <div id="main">
    	<h1>CSS3 Opacity</h1>
    	<img src="Images/chicago.jpg" alt="Chicago skyline" id="img1">
    	<div id="caption">The Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower) is 1450 feet tall.</div>
    If you open this page in a browser, it looks like this:
    web page before applying opacity
  3. The opacity property modifies the percent opacity of the element it's applied to. A setting of 0 means that the element should be invisible, and a setting of 1 means that it should be 100% opaque. To make the caption on the picture in our page semi-transparent, change its opacity to .5.
    #caption {
    	background: #fff;
    	opacity: .5
    The result will look like this:
    image with transparent caption
  4. To make the caption opaque (and easier to read) when the mouse hovers over it, you can use the :hover pseudo-class to change opacity to 1 on hover.
    #caption:hover {
    	opacity: 1;
  5. Open the HTML page in a browser and hover your mouse over the caption to see it change.

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Author: Chris Minnick

Chris is a prolific author and trainer, and the CEO of WatzThis?. His published books include Writing Computer Code, JavaScript for Kids, Coding with JavaScript For Dummies, Beginning HTML5 and CSS3 For Dummies, Webkit For Dummies, CIW eCommerce Certification Bible, and New Riders' XHTML.