2.4 Too Many Styling Options

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What you'll learn:

  • Differences between the style attribute and CSS rules
  • <Frame>'s convenient attributes (only works on <Frame>)
  • Using an external CSS file to style React code

Styling Options

The style attribute, CSS rules, and <Frame>'s convenient attributes

As we discussed previously, we can use this style attribute to set the inline style of an HTML element, such as a <div>, and the value of the style attribute must be an object.

<div style={{ width: 120, height: 120, background: 'orange' }} />

What we can set here is very similar to CSS. Except that the format is different. For width and height, we can just put a number. It’ll mean "px". If we want to use other units, we have to make a string.

<div style={{ width: 20em }} />
//  error ⤴︎

Because 20em is technically not a valid number in JavaScript we get a SyntaxError. Therefore, we have to wrap the 20em with quotes to make a string "20em".

<div style={{ width: '20em' }} />

If we convert this object to its corresponding CSS, it’ll be

width: 20em;
height: 120px;
background: orange;

If a property has multiple words, such as

border-radius: 30px;

we can't directly use it in JSX. We'll get an error.

<div style={{ border-radius: 30 }} />
         //  error ⤴︎

This is because the dash between border and radius is not a valid name for a JavaScript object key. This is why we use Camel Case!

<div style={{ borderRadius: 30 }} />

Under the hood, all the properties in this object get converted into CSS rules, but since we are writing JavaScript code instead of CSS, we have to follow the rules of JavaScript.

If a value is not a number, we have to add quotes around it to make it a string such as

<div style={{ width: '20em', height: '10em', background: 'orange' }} />

Alright, as a reminder, we have seen two ways to style a Frame.

  1. The style attribute

  2. Convenient attributes such as width, height and borderRadius.

    These attributes work behind the scenes. Frame converts them into a style attribute internally and merges them with any previously set attributes on the style tag. All of these attributes are then are converted to CSS.

    arrow diagram of Frame attributes

Both, however, set the inline style of the resulting div.

Eventually, the style attribute gets converted into CSS.

Style React code with an external CSS file

Not to confuse you, but there’s a third way to style things in React code.

The className on the div is equivalent to class in HTML. As a result, we can reference that in the styles.css file which is imported near the top of the js file.


We can edit the styles.css file to style the div here by going to the file system on the left and clicking on "styles.css".

css code

If we want to change the background color, we first have to remove background: "orange" from the style attribute in our JavaScript file.

Then in our CSS file

.App {
  font-family: sans-serif;
  text-align: center;
  background: palegreen;

Since we are now writing real CSS, we must follow CSS format.

Unlike JavaScript, we don’t quote colors, and we need to add a semicolon after each rule.


I know this can be error-prone if we have to switch back and forth between different ways of writing the style. Make sure to check the extensions of your files! If it’s CSS, we’ll use CSS format. If it’s JS or TSX as we'll later use, we are writing JavaScript code, we are gonna need to use camel case, quote strings, and so on.


Remember that CSS is the final destination. The style attribute will be eventually converted into CSS. The attributes on Frames such as width, height, and borderRadius are just shortcuts to set the style attribute. Moreover, these shortcuts only work for Framer specific tags.

In the next post, we'll learn about functions!