Cascading Style Sheets are an essential part of Web development. The benefits of their use greatly outweigh the time that it takes the Web developer to learn how to apply and tweak them for optimal effect in all broswers. In "Teach Yourself CSS in 24 Hours" Kynn Bartlett takes up the challenge of explaining how to use style sheets to create attractive, usable Web designs.

Cover and Contents

When I first got hold of a copy, I was initially struck by the cover! I’m still not quite sure what it is meant to represent, but at least it’s different. A quick flick through the book reassured me that it was easy to read and sections were ordered logically. There were plenty of headings to divide the information up, and code was printed in a different font to body copy, which made it easy to distinguish from the commentary.

I always take a swift glance at the contents list when I first open a book, and this time was no exception. It seemed that it was structured so I could either read the book from beginning to end — if I knew nothing about CSS, or I could go straight to a section that I was interested in if I wanted to brush up my knowledge in that area. Part I is a general introduction to CSS. Part II begins by explaining the CSS Box Model and the inheriting properties of CSS classes ("The Core Principles of CSS"). Part III continues with styling text, backgrounds, lists, tables, and general page layout and Web design using Cascading Style Sheets.

Does It Deliver?

I have never actually followed a book that claimed that the author could teach me something in 24 hours, so I was, naturally, a little doubtful that this one could. However, as I discovered, this book can have a beginner up and running within just a few hours. The first two hours will see any reader versed in the hows and whys of Cascading Style Sheets, and creating a working style sheet with enough of oomph to keep even the most demanding students happy.

The key to successful CSS implementation is in understanding how various browsers use and interpret CSS. This book takes the unique position of teaching the reader how to make clever judgments about how and when to apply CSS, based on browser support and the anticipated effects of their decisions. I really liked this approach — after all, the key to future-proofing any Website is to make sure it works in as many platforms and browsers as possible.

My favourite chapter in this book has got to be the one on Accessibility and Internationalisation. I really like the way the author takes the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and provides a solution in Cascading Style Sheets. CSS enables wide user access — and there are many features in the language that can be used to benefit those with visual disabilities.

This chapter also contains a brief overview of aural CSS properties. I did feel that the book could have done with a more detailed insight into aural style sheets — even if they are currently not supported by many browsers …But maybe the author is saving that topic for his next book!

All in all this is a must-buy for anyone who wants to learn how to use Cascading Style Sheets properly, and how to make them work in as many different situations as possible. It’s a fantastic book for a beginner, or anyone who already knows some CSS and wants to brush up their knowledge.

Title: Teach Yourself CSS in 24 Hours – Buy it at
Author: Kynn Bartlett
Publisher: SAMS
Price: $24.99
Pros: Easy to follow, loads of great tips, supporting Website.
Cons: Lack of colour, some printing errors (although these have been rectified in the Website)
Rating: 5/5

Nicky is a Community administrator for the SitePoint Forums. She's an advocate of accessibility and her research has been presented at international conferences. Nicky loves to travel, especially to Gibraltar, and is friends with anyone who offers her ice-cream or chocolate.

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