New Feature: Playlist Center! Pick a topic and let our playlists guide the way.

Start learning with our library of video tutorials taught by experts. Get started

CSS Fundamentals
Illustration by

What is CSS?


From:

CSS Fundamentals

with James Williamson

Video: What is CSS?

If you're brand-new to web design it's often easy to get overwhelmed at all the different technologies and terminology used in web development. Trying to understand what you need to learn first, or even making sense of it all, can be frustrating. With that in mind, I want to take a moment to define exactly what CSS is and where it fits in a larger scheme of web design. CSS, or Cascading Style Sheets, is a style sheet language developed to control the presentation of markup language documents, like HTML. You can think of HTML as controlling the structure of the web while CSS controls the presentation of it.

Watch this entire course now—plus get access to every course in the library. Each course includes high-quality videos taught by expert instructors.

Become a member
please wait ...
CSS Fundamentals
3h 14m Beginner Sep 26, 2011 Updated Dec 13, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

This course contains a high-level overview of Cascading Style Sheets, while exploring the basic concepts, terminology, and tools of the language. Beginning with an exploration of CSS syntax, author James Williamson explains how CSS modifies text, borders, backgrounds, and color; demonstrates CSS and HTML integration; and contextualizes the current state of CSS. The course also tours some of the most popular CSS editors and frameworks and lists online tools and resources for further study. This course is for people who want a big-picture overview before taking hands-on courses.

Topics include:
  • Understanding basic selector types
  • Integrating CSS with HTML
  • Examining browser rendering differences
  • Exploring CSS specifications
  • Checking browser support
  • Understanding the box model
  • Adjusting margins and padding
  • Positioning elements
  • Exploring basic layout concepts
  • Understanding media queries
  • Introducing CSS3
  • Using CSS Reset
Subjects:
Web Web Foundations
Software:
CSS
Author:
James Williamson

What is CSS?

If you're brand-new to web design it's often easy to get overwhelmed at all the different technologies and terminology used in web development. Trying to understand what you need to learn first, or even making sense of it all, can be frustrating. With that in mind, I want to take a moment to define exactly what CSS is and where it fits in a larger scheme of web design. CSS, or Cascading Style Sheets, is a style sheet language developed to control the presentation of markup language documents, like HTML. You can think of HTML as controlling the structure of the web while CSS controls the presentation of it.

The best way that I can think of to display that visually is to think of HTML as the structure of a new building. You can see the structure as it's being built, but you don't really know what the building is going to look like. CSS, on the other hand, serves as the skin of the building, and determines what the outside of the building is going to look like. By separating structure and presentation in this way, you can change how things look by simply changing the CSS files, all without changing the underlying structure. In terms of syntax, CSS is not a markup language like HTML, or even a scripting language like JavaScript; it's style sheet language.

This means that CSS consists of a collection of formatting rules which identify the elements in the document that they should control and the properties that they wish to set. These styles are usually contained in an external file that can control a single document or entire web site. The term cascade refers to how these styles are applied to pages. Styles are applied in the order that they're found and since styles can be placed in several different locations, this often results in a cascade of styles, from external documents all the way down to locally placed styles.

One of the major benefits of CSS is that it allows us to enable highly modularized web design. While this is a bit of an oversimplification, you can think of web sites as being controlled and constructed by five main elements: HTML controls the document structure; CSS controls the documents' look and field; JavaScript controls behavior within the client, or browser if you prefer; server-side languages such as PHP control processing and business logic; and databases such as MySQL store content.

Now in some cases a web site might use all of these elements, while in others it might only use HTML and CSS. This modular approach means that you can change each of these elements independently of each other. In terms of CSS, you can change the entire layout and design of a page without ever changing its content or structure. You also speed development and site maintenance by controlling the formatting for an entire site through a small number of CSS files. Separating style and structure in this way helps your content become more portable as well.

You can define separate styles for different types of media so that your page looks one way on the desktop and receives a more optimized design for print and mobile devices. As more and more devices consume web content, this allows you to control the presentation of your content within that device without having to change the structure of your file. Regardless of how complex the site is, I think it's pretty easy to see how important CSS is to the overall process of creating web sites. Anyone wanting to learn web design should regard CSS as an essential skill.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about CSS Fundamentals.


Expand all | Collapse all
please wait ...
Q: This course was updated on 12/13/2011. Can you tell me what has changed?
A: One movie called "Who is this course for?" was added to provide information on what you can expect to get from the course, depending on your level of familiarity with CSS.
 
Share a link to this course

What are exercise files?

Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course. Save time by downloading the author's files instead of setting up your own files, and learn by following along with the instructor.

Can I take this course without the exercise files?

Yes! If you decide you would like the exercise files later, you can upgrade to a premium account any time.

Become a member Download sample files See plans and pricing

Please wait... please wait ...
Upgrade to get access to exercise files.

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Learn by watching, listening, and doing, Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along Premium memberships include access to all exercise files in the library.
Upgrade now


Exercise files

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

For additional information on downloading and using exercise files, watch our instructional video or read the instructions in the FAQ.

This course includes free exercise files, so you can practice while you watch the course. To access all the exercise files in our library, become a Premium Member.

join now Upgrade now

Are you sure you want to mark all the videos in this course as unwatched?

This will not affect your course history, your reports, or your certificates of completion for this course.


Mark all as unwatched Cancel

Congratulations

You have completed CSS Fundamentals.

Return to your organization's learning portal to continue training, or close this page.


OK
Become a member to add this course to a playlist

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses—and create as many playlists as you like.

Get started

Already a member?

Become a member to like this course.

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses.

Get started

Already a member?

Exercise files

Learn by watching, listening, and doing! Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along. Exercise files are available with all Premium memberships. Learn more

Get started

Already a Premium member?

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Ask a question

Thanks for contacting us.
You’ll hear from our Customer Service team within 24 hours.

Please enter the text shown below:

The classic layout automatically defaults to the latest Flash Player.

To choose a different player, hold the cursor over your name at the top right of any lynda.com page and choose Site preferencesfrom the dropdown menu.

Continue to classic layout Stay on new layout
Exercise files

Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.

Mark videos as unwatched

Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.

Control your viewing experience

Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.

Interactive transcripts

Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.

Are you sure you want to delete this note?

No

Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.


Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from lynda.com.

Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

   
submit Lightbox submit clicked
Terms and conditions of use

We've updated our terms and conditions (now called terms of service).Go
Review and accept our updated terms of service.