2.0.9 • Public • Published


Betterize is a modern and opinionated CSS normalization file for better foundational styling and cross-browser design in 2024 and beyond.

Instead of CSS resets that will overwrite all the user-agent styles and require you to add much of what was taken away back in yourself, CSS normalization seeks to make your markup render consistently across browsers while maintaining modern standards.

With normalize.css remaining unchanged for more than 6 years now, it is now necessary to expand upon it. To remove old fixes that are no longer necessary and take advantage of modern CSS properties. To provide broad cross-browser and legacy support and improve the experience of developing stylesheets for the web.

Table of Contents

  1. Version
  2. Deployment
  3. Opinionated Design Choices
  4. Betterize Vs. Betterize-Slim
  5. Recent Updates
  6. Print Styles
  7. Contributions
  8. License
  9. Questions
  10. Smoother
  11. Authors


This is betterize version 2.0.9 - Last updated: 03/30/2024

Betterize is available in .css, .min.css, .sass, .scss, and .less versions.

There is also a print stylesheet available in all of these file types as well. See: Print Styles.

The file size of betterize.min.css is 11.61kB and is 3.6kB minified and Gzipped.

The file size of betterize-slim.min.css is 9.29kB and is 3.22kB minified and Gzipped.


_Betterize is now available on NPM! To install using NPM, simply run:

npm i betterize

You can see Betterize on the NPM website here:

Alternately, you can use Betterize by simply downloading the Betterize repo.

After using either method, you will need to choose which version of the file you will use. This depends on which CSS preprocessor you are using, or if you are using one at all. Betterize is included as a CSS file and a minified CSS file, but there are also versions for CSS preprocessors Less and Sass (both .sass and .scss syntax available).

Next decide if you want to use betterize or betterize-slim. While betterize attempts to offer maximum browser and device compatibility, from bleeding-edge to legacy, betterize-slim attempts to trim the fat by removing all styles and bug fixes that only benefit very old browsers, such as those that only target Internet Explorer.

Choose the file version and type you want and either copy it from the node_modules/betterize folder, or the downloaded repo folder, and paste it into your project. You could also have your build process pull it directly from the node_modules folder.

Of course, you can also simply copy and paste from the files in the repo itself.

To copy all of the files from the pacackage out of the node_modules folder and into your project's style directory, you can use the following CLI command in bash. Change the path to wherever you want to move the file in your own project.

cp -r node_modules/betterize your/path-to/sass/vendors/

To copy just your chosen Betterize and print file type project folder into your own style directory, you can use the following bash command:

cp node_modules/betterize/{_betterize-slim.scss,_print.scss} www/sass/vendors

It is recommended to put this file at the top of your existing stylesheet, either manually or as part of your build process, and not to link to it on its own, so as to minimize the number of HTTP requests made just for stylesheets.

The CSS version of betterize has a minified version included for your convenience, but you could also just add the .css file to your project and bundle and minify everything together as a part of your build process.

Opinionated Design Choices

There are many key design choices with betterize that are very opinionated, so if you are going to use betterize you should know what to look out for.

  • On the universal selector, three properties are added, to be applied to all element:
    • The box-sizing property is changed from content-box by by using inherit here and then setting the html element to border-box.
    • The min-width property is set to 0. This can save you a lot of time trying to figure out a ton of odd and unintuitive behavior, especially with flexbox, but it can also cause unexpected issues if you aren't aware it is here. If you encounter such an issue where your element is shrinking down to nothing, set a min-width for that element explicitly.
    • Set the background-repeat property no-repeat. If you have a background image that needs to repeat, set the background-repeat property for that element explicitly.
  • On the html element, many modern CSS features are used:
    • The color-scheme property is set to light dark. If you are only using a single color scheme, you can overwrite this explicitly with only light or only dark. For accessibility and UX purposes, respecting user's native preferences for light/dark mode theming is recommended.
    • Uses overflow: hidden scroll with scrollbar-gutter: stable to ensure the page always has a vertical scrollbar visible, whether the page requires it or not. The scrollbar-gutter property works to reserve the space the scrollbar takes up in order to prevent unwanted layout changes as the content grows dynamically.
    • Sets hanging-punctuation to first last to make punctuation like quotation marks have better balance at the beginning and end of a line of text by allowing them to be placed outside the line box.
  • A default font stack that works across all browsers and devices is also added to the <html> element. This ensures consistent inheritance and allows you to set custom fonts on the <body> with a guaranteed fall back in case your font takes a long time to load or doesn't load at all.
  • In addition, a few other design choices were made that you should be aware of:
    • Betterize recommends to avoid the use of margin-top. Vertical margins collapse and often cause unexpected results. More importantly, a single direction of margin is an easier mental model. You should not set a margin-top or margin-block-start anywhere in the code, and should instead try to only use margin-bottom or margin-block-end.
    • The <body> sets line-height: 1.5, and text-align:left. This is inherited later by other elements to prevent font inconsistencies.
    • Improved <hr> default look which uses currentColor for the color of the line. For a more standard <hr> look, use the class hr-light on your <hr> elements.

For more information about each specific choice, you can read the betterize files themselves, as they are heavily documented.

Betterize Vs. Betterize-Slim

After version 2.0.0, Betterize split into two major versions, betterize and betterize-slim, each with 5 possible file extension types that provide versions for the Sass and Less preprocessors, and a minified CSS file. (.css .min.css, .sass, .scss, and .less).

While betterize has a design philosophy of offering the maximum browser and device compatibility possible, from legacy to the bleeding-edge, betterize-slim attempts to trim the fat by removing all styles and bug fixes that only benefit very old browsers or devices, such as those that only target Internet Explorer or Safari on iOS 5.1-. It also has a reduced numbers of fixes and styling that targets legacy Edge (18-) or versions of "Evergreen" PC browsers which are more than a few years old, such as Chrome 64-.

If you need to support as many browsers and devices that you can, choose betterize. If you don't need to worry about very old devices and browsers, and in particular if you don't need to support IE, feel free to choose betterize-slim to save some bytes in your file size.

Recent Updates

Upcoming Changes

  • Custom configurarability for the betterize versions written for CSS preprocessors Sass (.scss/.sass) and Less (.less).
  • An install script that lets you choose the type and file extensions you want and copies those files into your project's style folder.

Version 2.0.1 - 2.0.9 Patch Notes

  • Fixed some mistakes related to pre and code styles
  • Removed more legacy browser code from betterize-slim files and shorted some selectors.
  • Moved around the order of some rule sets to be more logically grouped.
  • Added additional comments
  • Fixed a bad typo introduced into the body selectors comments.
  • Improved the README

Version 2.0.0 Patch Notes

  • Split Betterize into two version. The original betterize file will remain the same, and continue to normalize and improve designing for the widest range of browsers and devices possible. A new version, which is called betterize-slim, is a slimmed down version of Betterize that only targets a more limited and modern set of browser versions and devices. For example, it will not include any styling which is only of benefit to Internet Explorer, legacy Edge (18-) or versions of "Evergreen" browsers such as Chrome 64- which are more than a few years old.
  • Fixed the logical properties in all versions of Betterize such that when writing style changes for different languages, the logical properties correctly overwrite all of the physical properties.

Version 1.4.1 Patch Notes

  • Changed the regular ::placeholder selector to have the same properties as the vendor-prefixed versions of the selector.

Version 1.4.0 Patch Notes

  • Completely removed the opinionated :focus-visible and :-moz-focusring styles due to their ugly effect on form elements. Will be added back in a more limited way in a future version.
  • Modified the margin properties on the dd selector to use the shorthand margin property instead of setting margin-bottom and margin-left separately.
  • Changed instances of -webkit-fit-content to the correct legacy WebKit, non-standard form of fit-content: -webkit-intrinsic.
  • Removed explicitly set border override with WindowFrame color from declaration with button, input, select, and text-area selectors.

Version 1.3.5 Patch Notes

  • Fixed the opinionated <hr> styling to look more subtle. The .hr-light class is still available to overwrite it.
  • Updated the .sr-only / .visually-hidden classes to remove an unnecessary declaration.

Version 1.3.4 Patch Notes

  • Changed all logical shorthand properties to their longhand forms for broader compatibility.

Version 1.3.1 - 1.3.3 Patch Notes

  • Removed the semicolon after the charset declaration in _betterize.sass
  • Added :not(.hr-light) to the hr selector so using .hr-light would not maintain any of the opinionated choices for the <hr> element.
  • Removed the redundant ::-moz-placeholder selector due to already using :-moz-placeholder to support Firefox 18- as well.

Version 1.3.0 Patch Notes

  • As the above section states, the next version of Betterize will be splitting into two versions, one that targets as many browsers and devices as possible, and one that focuses on targeting modern browsers. In preparation of that, this version of Betterize added broad backwards support for legacy browsers and devices.
  • In preparation of splitting betterize into two versions, and for maximum compatibility, colors that were in rgb() or hsl() notation were converted to hex notation where appropriate.
  • In preparation of splitting betterize into two versions, and for maximum compatibility, removed the double colon notation used for the first group of psuedo-elements like ::before and ``::afterand instead switched to using:before` and `:after`.
  • In preparation of splitting betterize into two versions, and for maximum compatibility, added fallbacks for rem unit values.
  • Added more logical properties, leaving their physical property fallbacks (ex. padding-block and padding-inline below normal padding properties).
  • In preparation of splitting betterize into two versions, and for maximum compatibility, added vendor prefixes to some properties.
  • A default of background-color: #fff and color: #212529 was added to the body selector. A very faint background gradient was also added.
  • Dark mode color and background-color added to the body selector.
  • Now using a media query to change the default line-height on the body from 1.5 to 1.4 when the user has a device viewport with low width or height.
  • Undo the styles for placeholder links/named anchors (without href) which have not been made explicitly keyboard-focusable (without tabindex).
  • Added an SVG arrow indicator to the select element.
  • Reset padding and border-width to 0 for [type='color'] and [type='range']
  • Turned of animations and transitions for prefers-reduce-motion with universal selector and !important.
  • Added Linux fonts to the default font stack on the html element.
  • Fixed inputs of type range do not have touch-action: manipulation applied.
  • Added @charset "UTF-8"; to the top of the file.
  • Added an opinionated default styling of <kbd> text elements that makes them look more like keyboard buttons.
  • Changed image-rendering: smooth on <img> elements to only be applied if the image has a file extension indicating it is likely to be a photo, .jpg, .jpeg, .webp, .avif, .jp2, or .jxr.
  • Added image-rendering: crisp-edges to <img> elements with .svg file extensions.
  • Finished fleshing out the print stylesheet.

Print Styles

I have also included a file of default styles for printing. I recommend that you take the contents of this file and append it to the very bottom of your stylesheet in CSS. This is because you want to minimize the number of HTTP requests required to optimize loading times and this is the easiest way to accomplish that. If you want to lazy load the print stylesheet so it doesn't load until the user needs to print or after the page has already finished loading, then you can do that as well.

The file size of print.min.css is 1.32 kB and is 656 Bytes minified and Gzipped.

If you are using one of the CSS preprocessors (Sass or Less) then I recommend using _print.sass, _print.scss, and _print.less in their current form and importing the file from your main file that contains the imports for all the other partials.

In Less you would use the less import at-rule like this: @import 'vendor/print'

In Sass' .sass & .scss syntax you would import it with Sass' use at-rule like this @use 'vendor/print'. You could also do it with @import 'vendor/print' but keep in mind that Sass' import at-rule is being phased out of Sass and will eventually be removed.

For more information about migrating away from the soon-to-be-deprecated @import and using the newer @forward and @use directives, see the offical Sass documentation for:


If you have any questions about how to use Betterize that cannot be answered by this README or the documentation in the file, or if you have any issues, suggestions or comments, I would be happy to help anyone who reaches out. You can find me on X/Twitter at @metric_dev.

Feel free to ask me anything you like in a tweet, or shoot me a DM (though if you are not verified on X/Twitter I may not see the DM).


If you are interested in a Sass/SCSS library of mixins and functions that aid in front-end development, please consider checking out my project, smoother.

Along with having more than 150 mixins and more than 80 functions, Smoother has its own version of _betterize.scss that is reworked to be used exclusively with the Smoother library.

You can install Smoother in NPM like this:

npm i -D smoother


If you would like to contribute to Betterize, whether it is to add something new or fix a bug you have found, check out the Contributions document.


Betterize is distributed under an MIT License.

TL;DR: Anyone can use this code however they want but it would sure be nice if they also included a copy of the above license.


Created by SM Irving <@metric_dev>.

New contributors are welcome!

Contains work and research done by:

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