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When authoring your CSS, you have a few options available to you, as to where you can write your styles. In this movie, I want to cover those options and how they're going to impact your overall site. Now basically, styles can be located in one of three different locations. First, you can place styles in their own separate CSS file. This is usually referred to as an external style sheet. Secondly, you can place styles in the head of an existing HTML document. This is usually referred to as an embedded style.
Finally, you can also apply styles directly to an HTML element, which is referred to as an inline style. Let's take a look at each of these styles in a little bit more detail. External style sheets are simply text files with a .css extension. Typically, they'll hold multiple styles that are designed to control an entire site or section of a site. You apply these styles to pages by using a link tag in the head of a document. Using a link tag, you can even specify what type of media you would like to apply the styles to, giving you a way to apply different sets of styles to printers, desktops, and mobile devices.
Using external style sheets is the most efficient way of applying styles across an entire site. Embedded styles only apply to the documents they're found in, which make them inefficient for site-web styling, but perfect for targeted styles that are specific for that page. Inline styles are styles that are added to an element as an HTML attribute. The syntax can be a little cumbersome, as you start with a style attribute and then follow that with a semicolon-separated list of CSS rules.
For the most part, using inline styles are discouraged, as they're inefficient and can be very hard to override or maintain. Editing an inline style requires you to track down the element that the style is applied to and edit the HTML code directly. This can be even more difficult if you are having to update somebody else's code, as there's no way to tell where the styles have been applied without first looking at the code itself. The only place where inline styles are still used extensively is in HTML emails, where older email clients offer weaker CSS support.
For the most part, you'll find almost all of your projects will rely heavily on external CSS files with the occasional embedded style used to override global styles. Regardless of where you place your styles, the most important thing is to have an overall strategy that controls styling side wide, and makes it easy for you to maintain or edit the styles when necessary. This is a little easier to do if you understand how browsers apply styles, and that's something we're going to explore in more detail in our next movie.
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