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The ULTIMATE CSS only drop-down menu

First published 7th April 2006

Photograph © George Mayer |

Menu © Stu Nicholls - CSSplay

Updated 26th June 2006, 22nd September 2006 & 29th September 2006

Updated 5th July 2007 to add 1px black border around menu items

This was the first in the series but now there are more. Please feel free to browse all the others.

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A bit of a rewrite to 'hone' this to a bare minimum. I have now removed the double top level links from my previous examples and replaced them with just one link that is understood by IE6 and below to be a nested link and by non-IE browsers to be a standalone link.

How? Well it is possible to make Internet Explorer's conditional comments work for other browsers. In other words we can target non IE browsers with IE conditional comments. Fantastic!!

So non-IE browsers see the closing </a> on the top level links and IE6 and below see the the closing </a> on the other side of the table.

This works in IE5.5, IE6, IE7, Firefox, Opera, Safari(PC), Google Chrome, Netscape 9 and Mac Firefox 1.5 and Safari though not Mac IE5.x.

I have added additional features such as multiple line text and it stays in shape when the text is resized (although I have used a fixed width for this demo).

With this method I think I have finally reached the limits of simplification.

NOTE: If you have arrived here from '' then I should point out that their menu is almost a direct copy of several of my menus. The basis of their menu is the same conditional comments that I have developed for my menus as early as March 2006. One of which is a non-standard conditional comment to target IE7 and all non-IE browsers.

Cascading Style Sheet

22nd September 2006

Updated to incorporate my latest findings. The tables required for IE5.5 and IE6 have been moved into conditional comments so they play no part in other browsers. The dual styles for IE5.5/IE6 and all other browsers has now been combined by using just :hover in place of a:hover AND li:hover. Finally the hover state/path followed through the menu is retained in all browsers

Hope you like the improvements.

29th September 2006

An obscure IE6 bug has now been fixed with a restyle of this menu. After a top level 'link' is clicked the drop down menu sometimes did not drop down.


Because of all the time and effort spent in producing this demonstration I would ask that you respect my copyright.

1. If you are using this on a personal web site then please add a link back to CSSplay and retain any copyright comment in the stylesheet.
A donation to the 'Support CSSplay' fund would be appreciated.

2. If you are using this on a commercial web site, or as a paying job for a client, then please email me asking for permission - stu{at} and in this case a donation to the 'Support CSSplay' fund is required.

3. If you are having problems integrating any of my demonstrations into your website then I now offer a service to fault find and correct any errors that you may have introduced. Please email me for more information.


"The web site uses
CSS play code for the site drop down menus.
This code works seamlessly in IE 6 & 7, and is an excellent solution to the Creative requirements of the site."

Damon Clark - Brandwidth