The HTML <style> element is used to include CSS stylesheets inline in the HTML <head> element.

Use HeadLink to link CSS files

HeadLink should be used to create <link> elements for including external stylesheets. HeadStyle is used when you wish to define your stylesheets inline.

The HeadStyle helper supports the following methods for setting and adding stylesheet declarations:

  • appendStyle($content, $attributes = [])
  • offsetSetStyle($index, $content, $attributes = [])
  • prependStyle($content, $attributes = [])
  • setStyle($content, $attributes = [])

In all cases, $content is the actual CSS declarations. $attributes are any additional attributes you wish to provide to the style tag: lang, title, media, or dir are all permissible.

Setting Conditional Comments

HeadStyle allows you to wrap the style tag in conditional comments, which allows you to hide it from specific browsers. To add the conditional tags, pass the conditional value as part of the $attributes parameter in the method calls.

// adding comments
$this->headStyle()->appendStyle($styles, ['conditional' => 'lt IE 7']);

HeadStyle also allows capturing style declarations; this can be useful if you want to create the declarations programmatically, and then place them elsewhere. The usage for this will be showed in an example below.

Finally, you can also use the headStyle() method to quickly add declarations elements; the signature for this is headStyle($content = null, $placement = 'APPEND', $attributes = []). $placement should be either APPEND, PREPEND, or SET.

HeadStyle overrides each of append(), offsetSet(), prepend(), and set() to enforce usage of the special methods as listed above. Internally, it stores each item as a stdClass token, which it later serializes using the itemToString() method. This allows you to perform checks on the items in the stack, and optionally modify these items by modifying the object returned.

The HeadStyle helper is a concrete implementation of the Placeholder helper.

UTF-8 encoding used by default

By default, zend-view uses UTF-8 as its default encoding. If you want to use another encoding with headStyle, you must:

  1. Create a custom renderer and implement a getEncoding() method;
  2. Create a custom rendering strategy that will return an instance of your custom renderer;
  3. Attach the custom strategy in the ViewEvent.

First we have to write the custom renderer:

// module/MyModule/View/Renderer/MyRenderer.php
namespace MyModule\View\Renderer;

// Since we just want to implement the getEncoding() method, we can extend the Zend native renderer
use Zend\View\Renderer\PhpRenderer;

class MyRenderer extends PhpRenderer
     * @var string
    protected $encoding;

     * Constructor
     * @param  string $encoding The encoding to be used
    public function __construct($encoding)
        $this->encoding = $encoding;

     * Sets the encoding
     * @param string $encoding The encoding to be used
    public function setEncoding($encoding)
        $this->encoding = $encoding;

     * Gets the encoding
     * @return string The encoding being used
    public function getEncoding()
        return $this->encoding;

Now we make some configuration in the module class:

// module/MyModule.php
namespace MyModule;

use MyModule\View\Renderer\MyRenderer;
use Zend\Mvc\MvcEvent;
use Zend\View\Strategy\PhpRendererStrategy;

class Module
    public function getConfig(){/* ... */}

    public function getAutoloaderConfig(){/* ... */}

    public function getServiceConfig()
        return [
            'factories' => [
                // Register our custom renderer in the container
                'MyCustomRenderer' => function ($container) {
                    return new MyRenderer('ISO-8859-1');
                'MyCustomStrategy' => function ($container) {
                    // As stated before, we just want to implement the
                    // getEncoding() method, so we can use the base PhpRendererStrategy
                    // and provide our custom renderer to it.
                    $myRenderer = $container->get('MyCustomRenderer');
                    return new PhpRendererStrategy($myRenderer);

    public function onBootstrap(MvcEvent $e)
        // Register a render event
        $app = $e->getParam('application');
        $app->getEventManager()->attach('render', [$this, 'registerMyStrategy'], 100);

    public function registerMyStrategy(MvcEvent $e)
        $app        = $e->getTarget();
        $locator    = $app->getServiceManager();
        $view       = $locator->get('Zend\View\View');
        $myStrategy = $locator->get('MyCustomStrategy');

        // Attach strategy, which is a listener aggregate, at high priority
        $view->getEventManager()->attach($myStrategy, 100);

See the quick start Creating and Registering Alternate Rendering and Response Strategies chapter for more information on how to create and register custom strategies to your view.

Basic Usage

You may specify a new style tag at any time:

// adding styles

Order is very important with CSS; you may need to ensure that declarations are loaded in a specific order due to the order of the cascade; use the various append, prepend, and offsetSet directives to aid in this task:

// Putting styles in order

// place at a particular offset:
$this->headStyle()->offsetSetStyle(100, $customStyles);

// place at end:

// place at beginning

When you're finally ready to output all style declarations in your layout script, echo the helper:

<?= $this->headStyle() ?>

Capturing Style Declarations

Sometimes you need to generate CSS style declarations programmatically. While you could use string concatenation, heredocs, and the like, often it's easier just to do so by creating the styles and sprinkling in PHP tags. HeadStyle lets you do just that, capturing it to the stack:

<?php $this->headStyle()->captureStart() ?>
body {
    background-color: <?= $this->bgColor ?>;
<?php $this->headStyle()->captureEnd() ?>

The following assumptions are made:

  • The style declarations will be appended to the stack. If you wish for them to replace the stack or be added to the top, you will need to pass SET or PREPEND, respectively, as the first argument to captureStart().
  • If you wish to specify any additional attributes for the <style> tag, pass them in an array as the second argument to captureStart().

Found a mistake or want to contribute to the documentation? Edit this page on GitHub!