React.js inline style best practices [closed]

There aren’t a lot of “Best Practices” yet. Those of us that are using inline-styles, for React components, are still very much experimenting.

There are a number of approaches that vary wildly: React inline-style lib comparison chart

All or nothing?

What we refer to as “style” actually includes quite a few concepts:

  • Layout — how an element/component looks in relationship to others
  • Appearance — the characteristics of an element/component
  • Behavior and state — how an element/component looks in a given state

Start with state-styles

React is already managing the state of your components, this makes styles of state and behavior a natural fit for colocation with your component logic.

Instead of building components to render with conditional state-classes, consider adding state-styles directly:

// Typical component with state-classes
 className={classnames({ 'todo-list__item': true, 'is-complete': item.complete })} />

// Using inline-styles for state
<li className='todo-list__item'
 style={(item.complete) ? styles.complete : {}} />

Note that we’re using a class to style appearance but no longer using any .is- prefixed class for state and behavior.

We can use Object.assign (ES6) or _.extend (underscore/lodash) to add support for multiple states:

// Supporting multiple-states with inline-styles
<li 'todo-list__item'
 style={Object.assign({}, item.complete && styles.complete, item.due && styles.due )}>

Customization and reusability

Now that we’re using Object.assign it becomes very simple to make our component reusable with different styles. If we want to override the default styles, we can do so at the call-site with props, like so: <TodoItem dueStyle={ fontWeight: "bold" } />. Implemented like this:

<li 'todo-list__item'
         item.due && styles.due,
         item.due && this.props.dueStyles)}>


Personally, I don’t see compelling reason to inline layout styles. There are a number of great CSS layout systems out there. I’d just use one.

That said, don’t add layout styles directly to your component. Wrap your components with layout components. Here’s an example.

// This couples your component to the layout system
// It reduces the reusability of your component
 className="col-xs-12 col-sm-6 col-md-8"
 lastName="Chan" />

// This is much easier to maintain and change
<div class="col-xs-12 col-sm-6 col-md-8">
   lastName="Chan" />

For layout support, I often try to design components to be 100% width and height.


This is the most contentious area of the “inline-style” debate. Ultimately, it’s up to the component your designing and the comfort of your team with JavaScript.

One thing is certain, you’ll need the assistance of a library. Browser-states (:hover, :focus), and media-queries are painful in raw React.

I like Radium because the syntax for those hard parts is designed to model that of SASS.

Code organization

Often you’ll see a style object outside of the module. For a todo-list component, it might look something like this:

var styles = {
  root: {
    display: "block"
  item: {
    color: "black"

    complete: {
      textDecoration: "line-through"

    due: {
      color: "red"

getter functions

Adding a bunch of style logic to your template can get a little messy (as seen above). I like to create getter functions to compute styles:

  getStyles: function () {
    return Object.assign(
      item.props.complete && styles.complete,
      item.props.due && styles.due,
      item.props.due && this.props.dueStyles

  render: function () {
    return <li style={this.getStyles()}>{this.props.item}</li>

Further watching

I discussed all of these in more detail at React Europe earlier this year: Inline Styles and when it’s best to ‘just use CSS’.

I’m happy to help as you make new discoveries along the way 🙂 Hit me up -> @chantastic

Leave a Comment