Best CSS Book?

Hi Guys,

I’m just coming to the end, having worked pretty religiously through David Sawer McFarland’s “CSS The Missing Manual” while using Eric Meyer’s “CSS The Definitive Guide” for reference.

Now, in my limited opinion both books seem excellent to me, however, I was wondering if anyone could recommend a book that would teach me to apply my newly found skills in a more creative, and perhaps real-world way. Maybe a book that takes one, step by step, through the construction of realistic comercial websites?

Any advice would be welcome.


There are lots like that, including some produced here at SitePoint. However, I’ll put in a word for the first one I tried, as I thought it was really good: Stylin’ with CSS, but Wyke-Smith. Very clear, thorough, and gave me a great grounding to build on.

Hey Ralph,
Thanks for your propt answer. I’ve taken a look at the toc for that book and also looked through a few sample pages, and although it does seem to be an excellent book, it pretty much covers the same ground as the Missing Manual.

That is to say, that it’s more or a “how to” book.

I hope I don’t sound too arrogant, but I think I’v learned some of the main CSS concepts, and I’m really looking for a book that shows me how to apply them in a meaningful way - maybe a project based book giving examples of how to construct different types of commercial sites.

Any ideas?


Not arrogant at all, though I’m not clear on the difference, really. Obviously the bits introducing CSS are not needed, but the book does go into more complex things like various 3 column layouts etc.

Still, I have seen some more advanced CSS books, but can’t cite any off the top of my head, so perhaps you should google Advanced CSS books or something like that.

Try Alex Dawson’s Distinctive Design. He goes past the basic “how-to” of creating stylesheets and gets into more advanced techniques, but also some of the design underpinnings behind the choices.

It goes beyond just CSS and dabbles with Javascript, but Designing with Progressive Enhancement is a great book for practical applications of CSS for specific things.

I bought that book on Kohoutek’s recommendation. It is truly excellent.

Cheers Guys,
There are some really good suggestions here, and I’ll look into all of them.

I’ve also noticed these titles:

[B]Apress - CSS Mastery: Advanced Web Standards Solutions,

New Riders - Stunning CSS3: A project-based guide to the latest in CSS

O’Reilly - CSS Cookbook

Sitepoint - The CSS Anthology: 101 Essential Tips, Tricks & Hacks

Does anyone have any knowledge of these?

@Black Max:
In your last post are you referring to Alex Dawson’s Distinctive Design or Designing with Progressive Enhancement ?

Thanks again everyone,

I’m a big fan of the Visual Quickstart Guides. They are great for diving in to find out how to perform certain tasks whilst you are actually creating pages. I’ve always found that the best way to learn

Yes, they are great, but not that they’ve moved to now. e.g.:

Handcrafted CSS isn’t bad and the designing with [URL=“”]progressive enhancement mentioned above is a very good read. However, there is no substitute for just jumping in and practising on a few layouts to really understand how things work and how they work in relationship to each other.

The best book I ever bought about 10 years ago was Eric Meyers original CSS2.0 programmers reference because it simply told you how the elements were supposed to work, what they did and how were they used. It was purely a programmers reference and not a" how to" book but is the one I thumbed through the most many many years ago.

As far as I’m concerned you first need a very good understanding of how elements work before you can apply them correctly so something like the Sitepoint reference should be your first port of call (biased opion of course :)). Once you have this base then there is not much need for many more books because being creative is just part and parcel of using css. Every day, I see new and better ways to do things although sometimes you have to think outside the box(model).

If as you say you have a good grasp of the fundamentals then just a trip around the many css3 blogs/[URL=“”]sites will give you enough [URL=“”]food for thought.

Also don’t forget the Sitepoint online css courses as they were great.

The CSS Anthology from Sitepoint is also good. I have that one and it has a lot of little tips and tricks that above the beginner level.

I have a bunch of CSS books but my favorite is: Getting StartED with CSS

Nice and thick with everything you need to know. But as others say, just practicing and trying stuff along with the book is the best way to learn. It’s one thing to copy and paste and mimic the examples, but actually understanding and applying the practices yourself is key!

Was referring to DWPE, but Alex’s book is also excellent. He talks about how psychology and sociology impact the design process, giving the book a dimension most how-tos lack. (Full disclosure: I was the technical editor of the book, so I’m nowhere near objective!)