Jan 18 22:00 2002 Richard Igoe Print This Article

One ... aspect of good design is to give your site atheme and ... A great deal of this can be done usinga ... Using ... is not ... In fact it makes thetask of desig

One important aspect of good design is to give your site a
theme and coherence. A great deal of this can be done using
a stylesheet.

Using stylesheets is not difficult. In fact it makes the
task of designing a website that much easier. However many
new designers don't use them.

But before dispelling some of the confusion,Guest Posting let us look at
the advantages of using CSS - cascading style sheets.


1) You can use an external stylesheet to control the look
and appearance of your whole website, such as the font
size, style, and color, the background image, the
background color, etc... by changing a single file. You
don't need to edit every page.

2) Linking to a stylesheet reduces the size of your web
pages and gives you much cleaner HTML code because you
don't need to specify the font, color, or "style" of every
element on your page.

3) Web pages are displayed differently on different
browsers and platforms. For example a 10pt font looks fine
on a PC but becomes too small on a Mac. You can use a
browser-detection script in the header of your pages which
will link to a different stylesheet depending on which
browser is being used.

The rest of this article assumes you have a basic
understanding of HTML tags, the code behind your web pages.
If not you can get our simple HTML tutorial at -

Now using stylesheets is actually easier than HTML. The
main cause of confusion is that you can either link your
web pages to an external stylesheet, or you can include the
style sheet in the header of individual web pages inside
STYLE tags. Web design software does not always make this
clear unless you read the HELP pages in detail. Forget your
web design software for a moment, because it is easier to
understand stylesheets if you take a look under the

An external style sheet can be as simple and powerful as

BODY { background-image: url(images/mybackground.gif);
background-color: #FFFFFF; }

P { FONT-FAMILY: Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; FONT-SIZE:
12pt; COLOR: navy }

You copy and paste the above in Notepad, Wordpad or other
text or HTML editor, and save it as "mystyle.css". Put this
stylesheet in the same directory as your HTML files. Note
the ".css" extension is important. Then you link your web
pages to this stylesheet by putting the following code in
the HEAD area of your pages.

< link rel="STYLESHEET" type="text/css" href="mystyle.css" >

It is now easy to change the background image or color of
your site by simply changing the variables in the
stylesheet. You can also change how the text in your in
your website looks Anything in "P" tags on your web pages
takes on the "P" attributes specified in the stylesheet.
The above will make your pages display Verdana text (and
you give the option of Helvetica and sans-serif in case
your visitor's computer does not support the first choice)
which is 12 pt and navy.

The next source of confusion is the use of the CLASS
attribute. But this is also real easy and very powerful. It
is best explained by adding another style to our stylesheet
explained above.

P.redtext { FONT-FAMILY: Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif;
FONT-SIZE: 12pt; COLOR: red }

Now what this allows you to do is make certain blocks of
text red. In your web pages, instead of a simple "P"
tag around your text, you would add
class="redtext" to the "P" tag and the text inside the tags would be

You can have any number of classes and assign classes not
only to P tags, but also to your table data TD, your
links "A" and any tag contained in the "BODY" of your web
pages. And by simply changing the stylesheet you can change
the look of your whole site. Are you beginning to see the
power of using style?

It is however important to realize Netscape and Internet
Explorer deal with stylesheets differently and Netscape
does not support them as fully as IE. Netscape basically
takes the inheritance a step too far. The only way to find
out what goes and what doesn't is by trial and error,
however there are a couple of resources which will help you
a long way with understanding more about stylesheets. We
have listed links to these resources at

With simple stylesheets you should have no problem and they
will really help to make sure your site keeps a certain
amount of uniformity and cohesion.

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Richard Igoe
Richard Igoe

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