CCS without tables, resources needed

I’ve been doing some basic web design for several years, most using Dreamweaver, Fireworks, and Textmate. I’ve used CSS in all of my projects, but I’ve never built any sites exclusively using CSS. I’ve always used tables for the layout/structure of the sites and used CSS for rest; and I am sick of doing things this way. I hate using nested tables, i hate how the code looks, and I hate how long it takes for the pages to load. I want to learn how to design sites solely using CSS (and DVI tags). The problem is, I am completely lost in how to learn this. I’ve done the classic google search, looked-up books on amazon, but sadly I haven’t found anything conclusive. Are there any books, web sites, or DVDs that anyone can recommend?

I was looking into these two books,

Web Standards Solutions: The Markup and Style Handbook by Dan Cederholm

CSS Artistry: A Web Design Master Class by Andy Clarke

While it seems like I’m shilling for SitePoint, I enjoyed The Art and Science of CSS

You should also read through the CSS FAQ stickied thread which is currently being culled by our very own author, Paul O’B. He’s the co-author of the SitePoint [URL=“”]css reference book (and online reference linkable in the menu above). He’s written examples of just about every css-layout you would realistically need, and he’s got a great series of css quizzes he runs which are great learning tools.

But those are two solid books written by authors with some solid ideals and experience.

I like Cedarholm in general, he’s got a lot of solid ideas, but has some odd habits here and there. I’ve read the other three books, but I still think the best discussion of best practices on the market is The Zen of CSS Design, by Dave Shea. It covers all the bases and discusses “You could do this or you could do that, and here’s why you’d do one vs. the other.” I’ve still not found any other book that discusses the whole range of topics you need to know in CSS with that kind of detail.

The Ultimate CSS reference is a good book to have because it can be quite useful at times for those who need to look something quick up :).

Thanks, everyone for you thoughts and suggestions. I am either going to go with Cedarholm or I am going to take advantage of sitepoint’s 5 for the price of 1 offer (which is a REALLY great deal BTW)

Here’s what I’ve put together, please let me know what you think.

Sexy Web Design
CCS Anthology
HTML Utopia
The Art and Science
The Principles of Beautiful Web Design

That’s a good list :tup:.
As so luck has it, if those boooks are all sitepoint (I think they are?), there is a 5 for 1 deal which you should take advantage of

Principles of Beautiful Web Design, that is a must. It’s the 2nd most important design book on my short shelf of books I need at my fingertips when I’m working.

I’d also recommend
Ian Lloyd’s Build Your Own Web Site The Right Way Using HTML & CSS, 2nd Edition. I’m not sure what you’d swap out for it; personally I wasn’t that thrilled with Sexy Web Design. And HTML Utopia is one I’m not familiar with but I’d assume that it covers a lot of the same ground as Lloyd’s book.

An outside the box option would also be to get a copy of Kevin Yank’s, Build Your Own Database Driven Web Site Using PHP & MySQL, 4th Edition. If you’ve any desire to get into development, that is a great first book to start out with.

What is the most important design book?

One b ook doesn’t cover everything of web design. Each cover their own little topics :). You gotta pick one that you need.

Ryan, I think they’re asking for more info about my comment. :slight_smile:

Ryan’s right different books do different things; of the ones I have at my fingertips when I’m working on UX Design, Beaird’s is important because it gives a 10,000 foot view of graphic design. For someone in my position who didn’t have the artistic training in college, that’s what makes Beaird’s book so important to me. He covers design processes and tools which is not how most art books are organized, and it’s why the book makes an unusual amount of sense to me as someone who previously focused mainly on making form follow function. I now use a modified version of Beaird’s model: 1. XHTML prototype with no CSS, 2. CSS Positioning (these two correspond to Beaird beginning with Layout) 3. Color (a. Choose a color scheme, b. paint the design with it) 4. Texture (add 3D feel to the page) 5. Typography and font styling 6. Finalizing imagery And while I’ve adapted his model to work for me, I will frequently find myself referring back to it for details about executing each step.

The book that’s most important to me personally is the one I mentioned earlier, Zen of CSS Design, by Dave Shea. Beaird discusses best practices in the web design process. Shea discusses and illustrates with examples how to construct stylesheets in CSS. There are other books, but none that cover best practices in CSS so well. There are more recent books and some cover new ground, but there’s very little that supercedes what’s written in Zen they just cover new areas. And most of the books that are out there about working in CSS actually have a lot of “errors”, ie they tell you to use a technique which will technically work for the example they provide, but don’t work well in general and are not a best practice. Cedarholm is one of the best out there, but I’ve even found problems like this is his books (both the classic and the new one). Sitepoint books are almost unique because they are so well put together and recommend solid design principles (chalk this up to the reliance on sound fundamentals and web standards). However, I’ve found no other book that works so well as a reference for production quality web design and is so comprehensive about how you “ought” to build your CSS and why. If you don’t like Shea, my alternative recommendations would be the two Sitepoint books, Ian Lloyd’s Build your Own Website the Right Way, and Tommy and Paul’s Ultimate CSS Reference. The only other book I’ve really liked was Andy Clarke’s Transcending CSS. It’s not one I have on my shelf, but it was a very interesting read and changed my design habits. I now use “float” almost exclusively for its behavior not for positioning; I use relative and absolute positioning to get XHTML elements where I want them to go.

I also keep a couple of Leatrice Eisman’s books (Pantone Guide to Color, and Color: Messages and Meanings) on hand. I don’t use them much because they only relate to one phase of design, color. But that’s always where I start if I get to develop the color scheme, thumbing through to begin brainstorming color chips and working them into color studies.