html – Unicode character as bullet for list-item in CSS-ThrowExceptions

Exception or error:

I need to use, for example, the star-symbol(★) as the bullet for a list-item.

I have read the CSS3 module: Lists, that describes, how to use custom text as bullets, but it’s not working for me. I think, the browsers simply don’t support the ::marker pseudo element.

How can I do it, without using images?

How to solve:


I probably wouldn’t recommend using images anymore. I’d stick to the approach of using a Unicode character, like this:

li:before {
  content: "\2605";


I’d probably go for an image background, they’re much more efficient versatile and cross-browser-friendly.

Here’s an example:

<style type="text/css">
  ul {list-style:none;} /* you should use a css reset too... ;) */
  ul li {background:url(images/icon_star.gif) no-repeat 0 5px;}

  <li>List Item 1</li>
  <li>List Item 2</li>
  <li>List Item 3</li>


Using Text As Bullets

Use li:before with an escaped Hex HTML Entity (or any plain text).


My example will produce lists with check marks as bullets.


ul {
    list-style: none;
    padding: 0px;

ul li:before
    content: '\2713';
    margin: 0 1em;    /* any design */

Browser Compatibility

Haven’t tested myself, but it should be supported as of IE8.
At least that’s what quirksmode & css-tricks say.

You can use conditional comments to apply older/slower solutions like images, or scripts. Better yet, use both with <noscript> for the images.


<!--[if lt IE 8]>

About background images

Background images are indeed easy to handle, but…

  1. Browser support for background-size is actually only as of IE9.
  2. HTML text colors and special (crazy) fonts can do a lot, with less HTTP requests.
  3. A script solution can just inject the HTML Entity, and let the same CSS do the work.
  4. A good resetting CSS code might make list-style (the more logical choice) easier.



You can construct it:

#modal-select-your-position li {
/* handle multiline */
    overflow: visible;
    padding-left: 17px;
    position: relative;

#modal-select-your-position li:before {
/* your own marker in content */
   content: "—";
   left: 0;
   position: absolute;


This is the W3C solution. You can use it in 3012!

ul { list-style-type: "*"; }
/* Sets the marker to a "star" character */


Images are not recommended since they may appear pixelated on some devices (Apple devices with Retina display) or when zoomed in. With a character, your list looks awesome everytime.

Here is the best solution I’ve found so far. It works great and it’s cross-browser (IE 8+).

ul {
    list-style: none;
    padding-left: 1.2em;
    text-indent: -1.2em;

li:before {
    content: "►";
    display: block;
    float: left;
    width: 1.2em;
    color: #ff0000;

The important thing is to have the character in a floating block with a fixed width so that the text remains aligned if it’s too long to fit on a single line.
1.2em is the width you want for your character, change it for your needs.
Don’t forget to reset padding and margin for ul and li elements.

EDIT: Be aware that the “1.2em” size may vary if you use a different font in ul and li:before. It’s safer to use pixels.


To add a star use the Unicode character 22C6.

I added a space to make a little gap between the li and the star. The code for space is A0.

li:before {
    content: '\22C6\A0';


A more complete example of 222’s answer:

ul {
    padding: 0 0 0 2em;     /* padding includes space for character and its margin */

    /* IE7 and lower use default */
    *list-style: disc;
    *padding: 0 0 0 1em;
ul li:before {
    content: '\25BA';
    font-family: "Courier New", courier, "Lucida Sans Typewriter", "Lucida Typewriter", monospace;
    margin: 0 1em 0 -1em;   /* right margin defines spacing between bullet and text. negative left margin pushes back to the edge of the parent <ul> */

    /* IE7 and lower use default */
    *content: none;
    *margin: 0;
ul li {
    text-indent: -1em;      /* negative text indent brings first line back inline with the others */

    /* IE7 and lower use default */
    *text-indent: 0;

I have included star-hack properties to restore the default list styles in older IE versions. You could pull these out and include them in a conditional include if desired, or replace with a background-image based solution. My humble opinion is that special bullet styles implemented in this manner should degrade gracefully on the few browsers that don’t support pseudoselectors.

Tested in Firefox, Chrome, Safari and IE8-10 and renders correctly in all.


ul {
    list-style-type: none;    

ul li:before {
    content:'*'; /* Change this to unicode as needed*/
    width: 1em !important;
    margin-left: -1em;
    display: inline-block;


Try this code…

li:before {
    content: "→ "; /* caractère UTF-8 */


I’ve been through this whole list and there are partially correct and partially incorrect elements right through, as of 2020.

I found that the indent and offset was the biggest problem when using UTF-8, so I’m posting this as a 2020 compatible CSS solution using the “upright triangle” bullet as my example.

ul {
    list-style: none;
    text-indent: -2em; // needs to be 1 + ( 2 x margin), and the result 'negative'

ul li:before {
    content: "\25B2";
    margin: 0 0.5em; // 0.5 x 2 = 1, + 1 offset to get the bullet back in the right spot

use em as the unit to avoid conflict with font sizing


This topic may be old, but here’s a quick fix
ul {list-style:outside none square;} or
ul {list-style:outside none disc;} , etc…

then add left padding to list element

ul li{line-height: 1.4;padding-bottom: 6px;}

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