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The Best References for Learning CSS

written by: Cheryl Conley•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 8/25/2009

CSS is a powerful authoring tool for the web developer's toolbox, permitting consistent page rendering in browsers and flexible layout and design. It also helps site designers make web content accessible to individuals with disabilities. This article identifies the best references for learning CSS.

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    Teach Yourself CSS in 10 Minutes

    If you have to learn CSS quick, fast, and in a hurry, Teach Yourself CSS in 10 Minutes is the book you need. In short, digestible lessons, Russ Weakley teaches the CSS basics along with troubleshooting and how to handle CSS bugs. The book is not comprehensive; but is it great for a new initiate or someone needing a quick refresher. Weakley shows the reader how to produce standards compliant code that is supported by most modern browsers. He has a web site with tutorials to accompany the book.

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    Stylin' with CSS: A Designer's Guide

    Stylin' with CSS is a CSS reference for the beginning to intermediate web developer. In this second edition, Charles Wyke-Smith uses his teaching experience to full effect. His presentation of the material is logical with each concept leading to the next. He's able to anticipate and address the readers questions. The book covers web standards, how CSS works, how to style web content, positioning techniques, and designing interface components. In the last chapter, Wyke-Smith guides the reader through the construction of an entire web site. An XHTML tag and CSS properties reference are included. As an extra bonus, a style library, Stylelib, is available on the author's web site. The library consists of templates that expedite site building.

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    Beginning CSS: Cascading Style Sheets for Web Design

    Another CSS reference for the beginner is Beginning CSS. The second edition focuses on integrating CSS with XHTML and XML for efficient site design. Richard York packed the book with sample code. He teaches from a browser-neutral perspective. Workarounds for Internet Explorer 6.0 and 7.0's partial CSS implementation are given. Beginning CSS assumes the reader has a grasp of XHTML. While it covers CSS Level 1 through 3 specifications as defined by the World Wide Web Consortium, the book concentrates on the Level 2.1 specification. Quirks of the major browsers on the major operating systems are delineated and explained. York gives a comprehensive presentation of CSS with step-by-step instructions.

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    CSS Mastery: Advanced Web Standards

    CSS Mastery pulls together all the advanced tips and tricks from the different experts and puts them in one handy reference. Andy Budd shows the reader how to create liquid layouts, remote rollovers, pure CSS forms, and many other CSS techniques. He explains the major browsers bugs and their workarounds. The book also deals with CSS fundamentals and good coding habits like developing and maintaining reusable stylesheets. Co-authors Simon Collinson and Cameron Moll present two case studies to show the reader how to plan and build a web site from scratch. A word of caution is warranted. The first edition has many technical errors. An errata file is available. A second edition is forthcoming. It has a release date of August 28, 2009.

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    The Ultimate CSS Reference

    The Ultimate CSS Reference is a true reference book. It is must have on the shelf of all web developers and designers. Every CSS keyword, selector, pseudo-class, and their attributes are catalogued. All the specifications (CSS 1 through CSS 3) and browser implementation are presented. Even though the new browser incarnations--Internet Explorer 8.0, Firefox 3.5, and Opera 9.5--are not included, this is still a viable reference. Tommy Olsson and Paul O'Brien refer to myriad web sites to point out different browser rendering issues and the best ways to work around them. The publisher, SitePoint, maintains a handy reference for web developers.

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    The CSS references outlined above are guides to easy to maintain, consistent, accessible web pages. All of the books are excellent resources. The best one for you depends on your learning style and whether you're a beginner, pro, or somewhere in between. For individuals that learn by doing, Teach Yourself CSS and Stylin' with CSS are good choices. Beginning CSS is a better choice if one prefers to get familiar with the language before jumping in. Whichever book is chosen, you will come away with a workable knowledge of CSS techniques, browser workarounds, and combination with other site building technologies.