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Difference Between CSS and CSS3

Updated Jan 07, 2020

With the Internet dominating every facet of our lives, web applications and designer web pages have become more indispensable and significant than ever before. Given this scenario, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) are working in unison with HTML and other web development elements to create useful style and structure.

Through this article, we aim to throw light on the advanced features of CSS 3, the difference between CSS and CSS3, and the definitions of CSS and CSS3. We begin with a CSS vs. CSS3 comparative chart that follows below.

CSS vs. CSS3

CSS defines how HTML elements will appear on web pages. CSS3, the latest version of CSS, showcases several JavaScript like capabilities and mobile development features.

Basis of Difference CSS CSS 3
Compatibility Designed to offer several formatting features, CSS is not compatible with CSS3. CSS3 provides backward compatibility with CSS and supports all codes written in CSS version 1.
Rounded gradients and corners In CSS, designers had to develop rounded borders separately from the other web page elements and then position them on the server to complete the look. CSS3 allows for the setting of rounded gradients and corners with the help of codes.
Textual effects and animations In CSS, animations were coded via JQuery and JavaScript. There are no design layer features. Text shading/ shadowing and other special effects are not possible as page elements. Text shadows can be added with CSS3 and allow for more accessible reading capabilities. Visual effects for braking longer words and lines is also possible along with advanced features for font setting.
Support for media queries Media queries are not supported by CSS CSS3 supports queries for responsive websites
Splitting into modules CSS codes cannot be split up into varied modules CSS3 codes are capable of being split up into different modules
Support by new browsers All types of modern browsers do not support CSS codes CSS3 gains support from all modern browsers
Colors CSS offers standard and old colors only Support is provided for RGBA, HSL HSLA, and gradient colors
Lists CSS allows users to:
  • Create different lists to provide ordered lists
  • Set varied lists for the unordered lists
  • Set images for list item markers
  • Add background colors to list items and lists
CSS3 lists must have the ‘display’ properties defined in them. List items have counters that are directly affected via counter increments as well as counter reset properties.

CSS Definition

Cascading Style Sheets or CSS refers to a style sheet language. It is useful for describing the overall presentation of documents coded in markup languages like HTML. It is the cornerstone technology for the Internet and is closely related to HTML and JavaScript.

CSS is equipped to separate presentation and content; this includes the separation of layouts, fonts, and colors. This feature of CSS allows for better content accessibility, enhanced flexibility, and control, as well as the specification of the characteristics of presentation.

CSS enables different and multiple web pages to share the formatting via specifications of relevant CSS in separate .css files. Overall, CSS reduces complexity/repetitions in the structural and elements of web pages.

CSS3 Definition

Cascading Style Sheets Level 3 (CSS3) refers to an iteration of different CSS standards that are used for structuring, styling, and formatting web pages. It incorporates different CSS2 standards and includes important changes and improvements.

One crucial feature of CSS3 is the divisibility of CSS standards into separate modules that are simpler to decipher and learn. While some features are still awaiting the nod of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), a large number of CSS3 properties have already been implemented and are supported by the latest versions of new browsers.

New Features of CCS3

  • The advanced features of CSS 3 are:
  • Combinator: CSS3 offers the new General Sibling Combinator that can match up with the sibling elements of specific elements via the tilde (~) Combinator.
  • CSS Selectors: CSS Selectors: In comparison to the 'simple selectors' offered by CSS2, the components in CSS3 can be referred to as 'a sequence of easy to use and simple selectors.'
  • Pseudo-Elements: In the latest version of CSS3, plenty of pseudo-elements have been incorporated to give off in-depth but easy styling as well as new conventions of double colons::'.
  • Background Style Properties: CSS3 users can opt for multiple background images that are capable of being layered in a specific box with different elements such as background images, positioning, and repeat features. Background-clips, size, style, and origin properties have also been added.
  • Border Style: The styling of borders in CSS3 includes images and corners with rounded designs. Border-radius, image-slice, image-source, and values for width stretch and outset have also been newly added in CSS3.


The above differences between CSS3 and CSS depict the gradual transformation of features and functionality of the first version of CSS to the latest one. In case you have any further queries, do write to us in the comments section below, we will get back to you at the earliest.