Epubcheck reports an error for a paragraph like:

  <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">
     <meta content="text/html; charset=utf-8" http-equiv="content-type" />
     <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="foo.css" />
      <p class="flush">"Time flies <span style="red">when</span> you're having a good time"</p>

The error comes back as:

Position 1
An error occurred while parsing the CSS: Premature end of grammar (expecting: :).

There are no other errors in the EPUB.

I don't know how to fix this error. It's the first time I've encountered it.

Worthy of note: this same epub file runs through Amazon Kindlegen with no errors.

  • 1
    You appear to be citing the wrong piece of code, as epubcheck shouldn't be parsing CSS in this file (your only CSS is in the <link > reference, and that's going to be handled separately).
    – Auspex
    Commented Feb 26, 2016 at 14:28
  • I edited my answer below to clarify.
    – Paulb
    Commented Feb 26, 2016 at 15:42
  • Actually the answer was clear. But you edited this question, too, because there were no style attributes in your original post.
    – Auspex
    Commented Feb 27, 2016 at 22:49
  • I know. The question was confusing, because as I asked it originally it was very different from what the eventual problem turned out to be. With new knowledge of what the problem really was I edited it for clarity.
    – Paulb
    Commented Feb 28, 2016 at 13:18

2 Answers 2


I posted an issue at the epubcheck site.

Someone there knew right away what the problem was.

This is acceptable:

<p>Text <span class="red">red</span> regular.</p>

This is acceptable:

<p>Text <span style="color:red">red</span> regular.</p>

This is not acceptable, and is what I had:

<p>Text <span style="red">red</span> regular.</p>

It was hard for me to figure out because the character position reported by epubcheck was at the beginning of the paragraph, far away from the actual error.

  • you mean you changed class to style don't you?
    – Anthon
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 4:33
  • No, he means style="red" is, indeed, invalid, but class="red" is not. However, I don't see any problems in his original post, because there isn't any place that it should have been parsing CSS.
    – Auspex
    Commented Feb 26, 2016 at 14:25
  • <span class="red"> Whenever I make classes I make sure the class name is not the same as any keyword, to reduce confusion. So I would call the style 'redclass' or something like that.
    – Bulrush
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 13:01

<p class="flush">"Time flies <span style="red">

"red" is not a valid CSS style. The style should be <span style="color:red;">

This also works: <span style="color:red; font-weight:bold;">

But in an epub, which uses XHTML, I always used classes.

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