Introduction to CSS: Part 1

This first CSS article is designed to get your ‘feet on the ground’. You should know at least a little about HTML and web design before you begin. Once you finish reading this page, you will be ready to jump into the tutorial!

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An introduction to Cascading Style Sheets

CSS is the acronym for: ‘Cascading Style Sheets’. CSS is an extension to basic HTML that allows you to style your web pages.

An example of a style change would be to make words bold. In standard HTML you would use the <b> tag like so:

<b>make me bold</b>

This works fine, and there is nothing wrong with it per se, except that now if you wanted to say change all your text that you initially made bold to underlined, you would have to go to every spot in the page and change the tag.

Another disadvantage can be found in this example: say you wanted to make the above text bold, make the font style Verdana and change its color to red, you would need a lot of code wrapped around the text:

<font color="#FF0000" face="Verdana, Arial,  Helvetica, sans-serif">
   <strong>This is  text</strong></font>

This is verbose and contributes to making your HTML messy. With CSS, you can create a custom style elsewhere and set all its properties, give it a unique name and then ‘tag’ your HTML to apply these stylistic properties:

<p class="myNewStyle">My CSS styled text</p>

And in between the tags at the top of your web page you would insert this CSS code that defines the style we just applied:

<style type="text/css">
.myNewStyle {
   font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;
   font-weight: bold;
   color: #FF0000;

In the above example we embed the css code directly into the page itself. This is fine for smaller projects or in situations where the styles you’re defining will only be used in a single page. There are many times when you will be applying your styles to many pages and it would be a hassle to have to copy and paste your CSS code into each page.

Besides the fact that you will be cluttering up your pages with the same CSS code, you also find yourself having to edit each of these pages if you want to make a style change. Like with JavaScript, you can define/create your CSS styles in a separate file and then link it to the page you want to apply the code to:

<link href="myFirstStyleSheet.css" rel="stylesheet"  type="text/css">

The above line of code links your external style sheet called ‘myFirstStyleSheet.css’ to the HTML document. You place this code in between the <head> </head> tags in your web page.