Avoid !important: CSS Best Practices, Part 3

The !important declaration is used too much in modern CSS. If you write proper lean and clean CSS, and target the right classes, you won’t have to use the declaration, and put future you in a pickle.

The !important declaration in CSS is used to override any previously declared style rules for a particular element. While it can be useful in certain situations, it is generally recommended to avoid using !important as much as possible.

Why you should avoid !important


CSS selectors have a hierarchy of specificity, which determines which styles are applied to an element when multiple conflicting styles are defined. When you use !important, you’re essentially jumping to the top of this hierarchy and overriding all other styles, which can make it harder to predict how your styles will behave.


Using !important can make it more difficult to maintain your code in the future.

If you have multiple stylesheets or developers working on the same codebase, it can be difficult to remember which styles are !important and which aren’t, leading to potential conflicts and errors.


When you use !important, you’re essentially telling the browser to disregard any other styles that may be applied to an element, even those that are important for accessibility or responsive design.

Example on how to bypass Bootstrap

A good example on how to bypass Bootstrap without using !important is found in the .navbar.

The .navbar navigation usually looks something like this:

<nav class="navbar navbar-expand-lg">
  <div class="container">
    <ul class="navbar-nav">
      <li class="nav-item">
        <a class="nav-link" href="#">Link</a>

Styling the nav links would require us to target .nav-link.

.nav-link {
  font-family: 'Montserrat', sans-serif;
  font-size: 1rem;
  color: #787878;

Normally you would like to add padding here as well, but that wouldn’t work. And the reason why, is because the padding is handled by .navbar-expand-lg .navbar-nav .nav-link, since it’s determined by the .navbar-expand-lg.

Therefor, I would have to do the following, in order to not use !important.

.navbar-expand-lg .navbar-nav .nav-link {
  padding-right: 1rem;
  padding-left: 1rem;

Final words

There may be situations where using !important is necessary, it should be used sparingly and only when other solutions have been exhausted.

!important can be a needed tool, if you have to override inline css from a third-party.

However, it’s generally better to write well-structured, maintainable CSS that follows the rules of specificity and cascading, rather than relying on “!important” as a quick fix.

This can lead to unpredictable behavior and make it harder to create consistent, well-designed interfaces.

More CSS best practices