CSS transition properties control the transition period between two states and are commonly used to improve hover states on elements.


transition is a CSS shorthand property and, in its simplest form, lets you set which CSS properties will be affected by the transition (transition-property) and how long the transition should last (transition-duration).

In the example below, Example 2 has the following CSS applied:

.box {
  transition: all 1s;
.box:hover {
  background-color: #F6F930;
  height: 90px;
  width: 90px;

The second ruleset outlines what should change when the element (in this case, a div with the class name “box”) is hovered on. The first ruleset says that all of those changes should transition and the transition should last for one second.

If you hover over the boxes in the demo below, you can see the difference with and without CSS transitions:

Example 3 swaps out the all keyword and replaces it with a specific CSS property: background-color. In that example, only the background-color value transitions; the height and width behaves normally, resulting in the box size jumping again.

It’s also possible to target multiple CSS properties with different transitions:

.box {
  transition: background-color 3s, height 1s, width 1s;

This CSS would cause the box to transition in size (height, width) like Example 2, but the duration of the color change would be three times as long.

⏲️ You can provide transition-duration values in seconds, as above, or milliseconds (1000ms).

You can explore the effect of transition-duration by clicking the Duration link in the demo above.


The transition shorthand can also modify the style or format of the transition. In the examples above, all the transitions used the default of ease, but other transition formats are also available, such as:

You can see examples of each of these by clicking the Timings link in the demo above.


Finally, you can also add transition-delay to your transition shorthand to determine when should transition start relative to the trigger (which, in all examples so far has been hovering). The default for this property is zero.

You can see examples of the effect of transition-delay by clicking the Delay link in the demo above.

transition shorthand

As noted initially, this shorthand, in its simplest form, combines the transition-property and transition-duration and looks like this:

.box {
  transition: color 1s;

If you also want to specify the transition-timing-function and/or transition-delay, your CSS would look like this:

.box {
  transition: color 300ms ease-in 1s;

Let’s break that down, bit by bit; the order of properties in the shorthand is as follows:

  1. transition-property – required
  2. transition-duration – required
  3. transition-timing-function – this property is optional
  4. transition-delay – this property is optional

Put another way, you could get the same effect by writing this:

.box {
  transition-property: color;
  transition-duration: 300ms;
  transition-timining-function: ease-in;
  transition-delay: 1s;

Writing transitions

First off, use the shorthand property if it’s helpful to you or feel free to use the individual properties. Both are valid!

Also, if you are copying or using someone else’s code as a starting point for your transitions, you may run into some properties with vendor prefixes that look like this:

.box {
  -webkit-transition: all 1s;
  -moz-transition: all 1s;
  -o-transition: all 1s;
  transition: all 1s;

This is an outdated way of writing CSS transitions and is no longer necessary in modern browsers ✳️ . You can and should delete any transition rules with browser prefixes (-webkit-, -moz-, -o-) and just use the standard CSS properties.

Debugging transitions

Transitions only work if you have a state change (like hover) and have applied CSS to that state. transition: background-color 1s; has no effect if the background-color value does not change.

Additionally, not all CSS properties and values can be animated. MDN provides a list of animatable properties ✳️ which may help you out if your transitions are not working as expected.

Further resources