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Missing Manuals

CSS: The Missing Manual

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Cascading Style Sheets can turn humdrum websites into highly-functional, professional-looking destinations, but many designers merely treat CSS as window-dressing to spruce up their site's appearance. You can tap into the real power of this tool with CSS: The Missing Manual. This second edition combines crystal-clear explanations, real-world examples, and dozens of step-by-step tutorials to show you how to design sites with CSS that work consistently across browsers. Witty and entertaining, this second edition gives you up-to-the-minute pro techniques.

You'll learn how to:
- Create HTML that's simpler, uses less code, is search-engine friendly, and works well with CSS
- Style text by changing fonts, colors, font sizes, and adding borders
- Turn simple HTML links into complex and attractive navigation bars -- complete with rollover effects
- Create effective photo galleries and special effects, including drop shadows
- Get up to speed on CSS 3 properties that work in the latest browser versions
- Build complex layouts using CSS, including multi-column designs Style web pages for printing

With CSS: The Missing Manual, Second Edition, you'll find all-new online tutorial pages, expanded CSS 3 coverage, and broad support for Firebox, Safari, and other major web browsers, including Internet Explorer 8. Learn how to use CSS effectively to build new websites, or refurbish old sites that are due for an upgrade.

560 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2006

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About the author

David Sawyer McFarland

17 books24 followers
David Sawyer McFarland is president of Sawyer McFarland Media, Inc., a Web development company in Portland, Oregon. He's been building Web sites since 1995, when he designed his first Web site: an online magazine for communication professionals. He's served as the Webmaster at the University of California at Berkeley and the Berkeley Multimedia Research Center, and he has helped build, design, and program numerous Web sites for clients including Intuit, Macworld.com, and Playlistmag.com, among others.

In addition to building Web sites, David is also a writer, trainer, and instructor. He's taught Dreamweaver at UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, the Center for Electronic Art, the Academy of Art College, Ex'Pressions Center for New Media, and the Art Institute of Portland. He currently teaches in the Multimedia Program at Portland State University. He has written articles about Dreamweaver and the Web for Macworld magazine, CreativePro.com, and MX Developer's Journal.

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5 stars
425 (39%)
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426 (39%)
3 stars
184 (16%)
2 stars
48 (4%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 73 reviews
Profile Image for Tim Tulsky.
12 reviews6 followers
September 26, 2019
The book is great. I was reading it a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it. Most probably we should encourage practical programmers to wriet more books like this. The book I've read before this one (I don't even remember the name) was so boring and abstract that I didn't even finish the FIRST chapter. This one, though, is pretty down to earth and practical. Thumbs up!
Profile Image for Don Victorio.
7 reviews5 followers
November 23, 2019
Great tips for writing code. This is a keeper and should be reviewed at least annually.
Profile Image for Dawn.
26 reviews3 followers
May 14, 2008
Well, I finally returned this book to the library. I miss it already. I had learned alot - it was well set-up and easy to follow. But now I am taking a course at the college.
Profile Image for Nguyen Huu Anh Vu.
120 reviews8 followers
July 26, 2018
For beginner, this is the book you'll want to read to quickly up to speed with the current CSS landscape.
The author explains the common CSS properties in detail, gives practical example as well as useful advices on common problems (div vs span, class vs id, better CSS file structure, better CSS class name...)

Originally, I ordered the book in my company but it got borrowed by many people. So, I read CSS tutorial on W3C instead. Most of the info in part I, II and some in part III are condensed pretty well in W3C CSS tutorial. If you want to save time, you can read such tutorial instead. Then, come back to the book for part III and IV for advanced CSS discussion.

The front-end lanscape is growing fast, with many new cool tech to CSS recently (CSS grid, CSS structure like BEM, SMACSS...) Hopefully, the 5th edition will come out to include those tech.
Profile Image for Max.
30 reviews3 followers
March 11, 2012
I got what I wanted out of this book for sure, plus a lot more that I didn't really care about.

The useful stuff you may learn (if you know this stuff already, I would not recommend this beginners-level book)

1) The difference between a class and an ID
2) How to use descendent selectors
3) How to make use of inheritance to optimize CSS code
4) How to calculate "specificity" which is what determines which style gets displayed in case of conflicting styles for the same element (the style with the greatest specificity wins).
5) How to use
s instead of s for page layout (and why this is so much more powerful)
6) The intricacies of using floats for positioning of elements
7) What the significance of the word "cascade" is in Cascading Style Sheets
8) Some very basic idiot-proof decorating tricks and positioning tricks for page elements

The totally useless stuff you will wade through:

1) Endless IE-6 hacks to fix bugs.
2) Redundancy! I know this book was written so that each chapter could stand on its own, but it's really really frustrating to read the same sentences over and over if you're reading from cover-to-cover.

This book will NOT make you into a web designer by any means, but by working through all the tutorials (which can be downloaded here: http://sawmac.com/css2e/) you will start to get some idea of what works -- and how easy it is to make a webpage that looks really nice with just a few lines of code. The book covers all the basics and gives you a flavor of CSS3 in the final chapter.

Profile Image for Tami.
Author 34 books67 followers
April 15, 2008
Creating websites using html can be very time consuming and somewhat limiting. Making editing changes over multiple pages is downright maddening. Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is the answer.

CSS enables the webmaster to set standards such as selecting a particular font size and color for all headings, subheadings, or texts without having to rewrite the html each time. This system also allows editing changes that carry over from one page to another to be changed automatically with a single change. For those trying to manage websites with hundreds of pages, CSS is an obvious must have.

CSS can be undertaken in two ways: manually or in association with various website design programs. Webmasters can manually insert CSS into their existing html code. Doing so is pretty simple, especially for those used to writing their own html. Alternately, Dreamweaver 8 comes automatically equipped with CSS and is simply a matter of choosing formatting options.

Webmasters using either option will definitely find this book valuable. This text includes step by step instructions so that the reader can learn by doing. Actually working with the code is probably the best way to understand the capabilities and time saving abilities of CSS. Even those using the automatic CSS systems will benefit from this aspect while troubleshooting or just realizing the extents of what CSS can do.
Profile Image for Tami.
Author 34 books67 followers
December 28, 2009
CSS: The Missing Manual is a good step by step manual for anyone interested in learning CSS. The book does assume that the reader has some basic experience with HTML. However, the CSS related material teaches the reader right from the very beginning.

Those new to CSS will likely read this book from start to finish, completing the tutorials as they go. In this way, they will learn how to create internal and external style sheets; the basics of text and image formatting; and more advanced techniques for floating layouts, forms, and navigation bars. Those with some CSS experience will probably pick and choose topics as needed. However, I highly recommend reading the Improving Your CSS Habits and CSS on the Edge chapters as they contain a lot of important tidbits. 
Profile Image for Derek Barber.
49 reviews2 followers
August 17, 2011
I've been using CSS for years but never really took the time to learn it. I would always just rely on various tutorials but never have a full grasp of exactly what I was doing. One area that I was fuzzy on was the use of descendent selectors. So after reading many amazon reviews, I ordered this book. Much of the book was a refresher for me, but I even enjoyed those sections as they helped to solidify my knowledge of those area. Overall, it's very well written and gives lots of clear examples. The tutorials at the end of each chapter really get you to put into practice the more theoretical concepts in the chapter. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn CSS or grow in this CSS knowledge.
Profile Image for Kelly.
12 reviews
September 12, 2011
So I have chosen not to rate this book as in terms of how much I liked it. I don't necessarily like reading books on CSS, HTML, Tech, etc., but I had to in this case because I am teaching myself.

In terms of being able to teach myself from this book, I thought that it was well laid out and easy to get through. Coming from the background of someone who only knew limited amounts of HTML, the book accomplished more than I hope for. Do I have a basic understanding of style sheets and how to use them? Yes, mostly (and that mostly is due to my own inadequacies and idiosyncrasies rather than the books). So the 4 stars isn't for liking it...it's for the books ability to impart knowledge in a relatively clear and concise manner.
24 reviews1 follower
June 3, 2016
As far as CSS goes, this was an excellent manual in teaching the skills required to implement CSS in web design. While I already knew much of the material, I still was able to learn new tricks that I hadn't known previously

More importantly, after reading this book, you learn how much of a pain in the butt it is to develop for Internet Explorer. The book goes into depth about how to handle working with IE though, so not too much to worry about.

If you are a complete newbie to web development, you'll want to pick up a book on HTML or go through the endless tutorials online first.

I won't rate this book because I have nothing to compare it against but itself, and that isn't a fair comparison. But I do believe it delivers the goods.
12 reviews
Want to read
July 11, 2007
I ran into a guy at Stacy's and by happenstance, literally bumped into each other. That turned into a really great converstation, just to find out the guy is a senior web master/designer. Then he goes on to tell me how he is a reviewer for O'Reilly and gets calls all the time from his publicist. I told him I wanted to get more involved with web development, and he told me that this book is a must-read for anyone wanting a solid footing in this fast-paced technological world. So of course I had to get it =)
Profile Image for Kyle.
47 reviews7 followers
December 20, 2011
My review is not reflective of the quality of this book. The quality is excellent, however my rating is my personal view on how I benefited from the book. I did not have the foresight to know what level of technical detail would be in this book, and having worked in web programming for a while (although not explicitly HTML/CSS), I was already familiar with many of the topics. My main intent was to cover Part III which covers div based layouts (as opposed to table layouts) in great detail and I Should have just read those chapters and saved myself some time.
42 reviews
July 19, 2012
CSS: The Missing Manual made learning CSS so easy that I was disappointed when I got to the end. CSS was supposed to be a challenge! It was supposed to hurt! I'd struggled with it for years before getting this book, and suddenly, it was over. It was like hauling in the tanks and torpedoes and souped-up BFGs and getting ready for the final assault on Godzilla, and Godzilla slumps over and dies of a heart attack. NOT FAIR. So if you like challenges, read any other CSS book. If you want to master CSS quickly and painlessly, read this one.
5 reviews
November 14, 2010
I really enjoyed working through this book. It has really helped me better understand the inner workings of CSS and especially how the cascading process works.

The tutorials were really helpful and I liked that I could get hands on experience working through the different aspects of CSS.

I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in getting a good foundation of CSS. Even if you have never worked with CSS before.
Profile Image for Lisa.
83 reviews
January 3, 2012
I am really thrilled to find this series "The Missing Manual". Finally a computer book that is written in plain English, in a non-competitive human way, with tutorials and no extra cd, for extra expense, but downloadable files to go with lessons. Perfect for a this-time-of-life claiming my destiny sorta thing...(no I won't be retiring soon)
Thanks Mr. McFarland for caring about real human beings!
Profile Image for Ramesh.
28 reviews2 followers
January 2, 2016
I'm a novice when it comes to front-end dev work and very comfortable with backend development. The book (along with other references about HTML5) was very helpful, in particular the tutorials. However, it could have been written to be a little less verbose - this is probably the programmer in me talking. Otherwise, I'm happy with the book. For someone with zero HTML experience/CSS experience, this is what I was able to produce: www.arivulearning.com.
Profile Image for g BRETT.
80 reviews16 followers
November 24, 2010
I learned HTML way back in the 90s, and still had some of the old ways of doing things. This book helped me get a refresher on the right way to do HTML, in addition to the great info on CSS. I still have a lot to learn, and this is a great resource. Not really a reference book, but still something you can refer to.
Profile Image for Una.
56 reviews11 followers
June 27, 2012
Complex, but easy to understand.
Provides fundamental, greatly explained concepts, good tutorials, tons of useful reference.

However, I found it sometimes annoying (maybe because of the neverending IE bugs, which the authors try fatigueless AND jocularly to solve/dissolve) and here and there too theoretical.

So far the best and the most comprehensive book about css.
199 reviews4 followers
November 2, 2014
The book starts pretty basic, but gives a very detailed dive into CSS. This book shows you the different hacks needed for different browsers (ugh ugh IE)! David gives some really interesting tips and sites which display the power of CSS.

I believe I'll use this book as a CSS reference for months to come.
Profile Image for Rohit Tiwari.
12 reviews
March 27, 2016
My first book on CSS and guess what, I Completely understand the Css and HAve logical understanding of How tho write Css from scratch or to make changes in existing framework Css. Saved Lot of time in Debugging and writing the Right Css. Must Read for any CSS writer aspirant. I still refer it and Recommend to my juniors
Profile Image for Sean Keery.
Author 2 books
September 7, 2007
Good introduction to Cascading Style Sheet. Inheritance was the key point for me. The third section was too much and I skipped most of it. Left me wondering what the place of CSS will be in the future in light of xhmtl and xsl.
Profile Image for Scott Meyer.
8 reviews
March 22, 2008
Good resource. Even if you use a design tool like Dreamweaver, this book is still extremely useful for understanding CSS structure and usage. It's got excellent tutorials and is also a useful reference book. Good tips on browser quirks too.
11 reviews1 follower
January 2, 2010
I am a big fan of David McFarland's books in this series - he is able to actually keep technical manuals fairly enjoyable to read. I had a beginner's knowledge of CSS coming into this one, and afterwards I really feel pretty comfortable using it for any of my work.
Profile Image for MK.
72 reviews1 follower
May 30, 2010
This book was VERY handy as I tried to get a handle on CSS. Wish I'd had the time to take it from front to back, using the guided exercises to really master the material. As it was, I used it mainly as a reference, and it served my purposes well. Definitely keeping it on hand.
Profile Image for Will.
62 reviews5 followers
January 20, 2012
I got to refresh my memory and hopefully learn something new, which I did. It's a good book. I didn't read everything in detail, but I skimmed through the whole thing. The humor in this book wasn't funny to me, but it's easy to ignore it.
Profile Image for Arden.
90 reviews4 followers
March 31, 2013
Good fast way to review CSS. It is a bit outdated with lots workarounds for IE 6 and IE 7. This book filled in some gaps I had in my understanding of CSS descendants and hierarchy and how to apply floats for positioning rather than rely on tables for positioning.
Profile Image for Adrienne S.
50 reviews3 followers
November 4, 2017
A really good, comprehensive guide to CSS, and nice to have as a reference even if you're already familiar with the subject.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 73 reviews

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