Why you should use BEM to organize your CSS

Why BEM?

BEM provides structure, which benefits any project, regardless of size. BEM, for me, is easy to understand and implement. It also avoids inheritance and reduces style conflicts.

The reason I choose BEM over other methodologies comes down to this: it is less confusing than the other methods (i.e. SMACSS) but still provides us the good architecture we want (i.e. OOCSS) and with a recognizable terminology.

Mark McDonnell

Block, Element, and Modifier

BEM stands for ‘block’, ‘element’, and ‘modifier’

Green = Block, Blue = Element, Red = Modifier


Standalone entity that is meaningful on its own.

Examples:header, container, menu, checkbox, inputHTML<div class="block">...</div>CSS.block { color: #fff; }


A part of a block that has no standalone meaning and is semantically tied to its block. The CSS class uses the name of the block followed by two underscores __ and the name of the element.

Examples:menu item, list item, checkbox caption, header titleHTML<div class="block">
<span class="block__elem"></span>
CSS.block { color: #fff; }
.block__elem { color: #303030; }


A flag on a block or element. Use them to change appearance or behavior. The CSS class uses the name of the block or element followed by two dashes -- and the name of the modifier.

Examples:disabled, highlighted, checked, fixed, size big, color yellowHTML<div class="block block--mod">...</div>
<div class="block block--size-big block--shadow-yes">...</div>
CSS.block { color: #fff; }
.block--mod .block__elem { color: #303030}
.block__elem--mod { color: red}

There are only two hard problems in Computer Science: cache invalidation and naming things — Phil Karlton



BEM makes your CSS easy to read and quick to navigate.


BEM handles some of the issues with the cascading effect of the style sheet; because a block’s style isn’t dependent on other page elements, like if your h2 selector has unintended effects on sidebar’s h2.


Creating blocks of code that are independent from each other allows you to reuse them, which will reduce the amount CSS you need to write. Blocks can become so reusable that you can build a library of them for later use.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store