Starting Cascading Style Sheets

Jun 1


Stephen Cope

Stephen Cope

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Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) are being used more and more by web designers to layout and format web pages. Although they have been around for several years now many designers have avoided them due to browser incompatibility.


 Although compatibility problems still exist they are no longer an issue for most applications. Here I will concentrate here on the main features and how they work and why they are used.You may find yourself using CSS anyway without you knowing as programs like FrontPage use CSS (depends on page setup options) for some of their functionality.

Styles Solve a Common Problem

HTML was originally designed to define the content of a document but not the document presentation/layout. The layout of the document was supposed to be taken care of by the browser,Starting Cascading Style Sheets Articles without using any formatting tags. The content is defined by using tags like <h1>, <p>, <table>, which basically say "This is a header", "This is a paragraph", "This is a table", by using tags like and so on.

The principal browser vendors, Netscape and Microsoft, competed by adding support for new, proprietary tags (like the <font> tag and the colour attribute) and technologies that permitted increasingly high-impact Web pages.

These innovations were good for spurring the development of Web technology, but they created problems as well.

Consequently it became more and more difficult to create Web sites where the content of HTML documents was clearly separated from the document's presentation and that would be displayed correctly on any browser.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) - the consortium responsible for standardizing HTML - created a language called Cascading Style Sheets, or CSS.CSS, unlike HTML, is designed solely to define appearance as efficiently as possible.

It can exist either within HTML or as a linked document, letting developers separate a Web page's content (marked up in HTML) from its presentation (defined by CSS). Both Netscape 4.0 and Internet Explorer 4.0 and later support Cascading Style Sheets.

Style sheets work like templates: you define the style for a particular HTML element once (e.g. header tag <h1>), and then use it over and over on any number of Web pages.

 If you want to change how an element looks, you just change the style; the element automatically changes wherever it appears. (Before CSS, you had to change the element individually, each time it appeared) .Style sheets let Web designers quickly create more consistent pages--and more consistent sites.

How Style sheets are Implemented

There are 3 basic ways to add the functionality of Style Sheets:

1. Inline - Creating the elements for each HTML Tag. This will allow the same HTML Tag to have different styles on the same page. 2. Embedding - Creating the elements on the page itself that will affect every occurrence of an HTML Tag. 3. Linking - Creating one page that defines the elements and include in the pages that you want to affect.

For beginners using Embedding or Linking is recommended.. The Linking Style is used when you want to use the same style on multiple pages, you can then use Embedding and/or Inline on specific pages that don't fit the design style of the Linking Sheet.

Precedence and inheritance

As the term Cascading Style Sheets implies, more than one style sheet can be used on the same document, with different levels of importance. Generally styles from different style sheets merge together (cascade) into a virtual style.

However, If you define conflicting styles for the same HTML element, the innermost definition--the one closest to the individual tag-winsThe precedence Style Sheets follow is Inline, Embedding, then Linking. Inline Style takes precedence over Embedding Style, which takes precedence over Linking Style.

There is a fourth style sheet which is set not by the document author but by the reader and that is the browser default. Taking this style sheet into consideration the order of precedence is:

1. Inline Style (inside HTML element) .2. Embedding Style Sheet (inside the <head> tag). 3. External Style Sheet.4. Browser default.

So, an inline style (inside an HTML element) has the highest priority, which means that it will override every style declared inside the <head> tag, in an external style sheet, and in a browser (a default value).

Cascading Style Sheets- part 1

Cascading Style Sheets- part 2

Cascading Style Sheets- part 3