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Writing Maintainable CSS

Writing maintainable CSS is essential for keeping your projects organized, scalable, and easy to work with. This tutorial will guide you through best practices and established methodologies to create maintainable and efficient CSS.

Organize your CSS

Use a consistent naming convention

Choose a naming convention and stick to it. A popular and widely-used convention is BEM (Block, Element, Modifier). With BEM, you can easily identify the relationships between components and their parts.

/* BEM example */
.block {
.block__element {
.block--modifier {

Group and order your rules

Group related rules together and order them logically. You can order them alphabetically or by type (layout, typography, colors, etc.).

/* Group and order example */
.container {
/* Layout */
display: flex;
justify-content: center;

/* Typography */
font-family: Arial, sans-serif;
font-size: 1rem;

/* Colors */
background-color: #f5f5f5;
color: #333;

Use comments

Use comments to provide explanations, separate sections, or highlight important rules.

/* Header styles */
.header {
/* ... */

/* Navigation styles */
.navigation {
/* ... */

Follow the DRY (Don't Repeat Yourself) principle

Avoid duplicating code by using variables, mixins, or utility classes.

/* DRY example */
:root {
--primary-color: #3498db;

.primary-button {
background-color: var(--primary-color);

.link {
color: var(--primary-color);

Use a preprocessor

CSS preprocessors like Sass, Less, or Stylus allow you to use variables, nesting, and functions to write more efficient and maintainable CSS.

/* Sass example */
$primary-color: #3498db;

.primary-button {
background-color: $primary-color;

&:hover {
background-color: darken($primary-color, 10%);

Adopt a CSS methodology

Choose a CSS methodology like SMACSS, OOCSS, or ITCSS to structure your CSS and make it more maintainable and scalable.

Use a linter and formatter

Utilize tools like Stylelint or Prettier to enforce consistent code formatting and catch potential errors.


By following these best practices and adopting a CSS methodology, you can write maintainable CSS that is easy to work with and scale. As your projects grow in size and complexity, these techniques will become invaluable in keeping your codebase organized and efficient.