Custom radio buttons

Form elements aren’t the most fun thing in the world to style. I was given a design recently that featured radio buttons with “on brand” colours to indicate the selected state.

Custom radio buttons for Noble Union

Instead of dismissing this and saying “you can’t customise native form controls”, I had a go at replicating the desired effect.


The :checked pseudo class allows styling of input elements that can be “checked” like radio buttons and checkboxes.

input[type="radio"]:checked {
	/*styles for checked radio button*/

Using sibling selectors like the adjacent sibling selector allows the styling of an element that is next to another one. In the case of inputs, they are often adjacent to a label in the document.

<input type="radio" value="app idea">
<label>I’ve got an idea for an app</label>

We can style the label differently when the radio button is checked as follows.

input[type="radio"]:checked + label {

Labels & inputs

So, we can style nearby elements differently based on the state of the checked attribute. But we can also link labels and inputs together so that clicking on the label activates the checking and unchecking of the input.

<label for="input1_1">I’ve got an idea for an app</label>
<input id="input1_1" name="input1" type="radio">
<label for="input1_2">I’m an agency interested in partnering</label>
<input id="input1_2" name="input1" type="radio">

Here the for attribute on the label maps to the id attribute on the input. The value of the name attribute of the inputs match as these two inputs are both part of the same group.

Now, clicking on the label will select the input that it’s linked to and mark it as checked.

Hide the input

This behaviour still works with the input “visually hidden”. This could be achieved by positioning it off the page with position:absolute or setting visibility:hidden.

Replace the input

The form behaves as before but now we don’t have any visual indication that this is a radio button or which option has been selected. We can now re-create our own instead and make it look however we please.

Using pseudo elements :before and :after on the label, we can create our own custom unchecked and checked representation of the input.

The unchecked state is handled by the :before element and setting equal width and height, a thin border and border-radius:100% creates an outline circle.

label {
label:before {
	content: "";

	position: absolute;
	top: 6px;
	left: 0;
	width: 20px;
	height: 20px;

	background: #fff;
	border: 2px solid #999;
	border-radius: 100%;

The red dot in the center, representing the active state can be added via an :after element.

input[type="radio"]:checked + label:after {
	content: "";

	position: absolute;
	top: 12px;
	left: 6px;
	width: 8px;
	height: 8px;

	background: #ff4f4b; /*crimson*/
	border-radius: 100%;

And there you have it. Custom radio buttons with no additional elements.

If you hate email but still want to keep in touch, follow me on Twitter.

Guy Routledge avatar
Currently available hire me