Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member

Form element styling

From: Dreamweaver CS5 Essential Training

Video: Form element styling

In our last movie, we targeted some of the basic structural formatting of our form as we styled our form tag, our fieldsets, our legends. But we largely didn't style any of the interior form elements themselves. So in this movie, we will return to our styles and begin targeting specific form elements and styling them so that their labels and the form elements themselves fit visually in with the design of our page and with the desired visual flow to assist in usability. So I have got the join.htm from the 12_13 explorers folder opened.

Form element styling

In our last movie, we targeted some of the basic structural formatting of our form as we styled our form tag, our fieldsets, our legends. But we largely didn't style any of the interior form elements themselves. So in this movie, we will return to our styles and begin targeting specific form elements and styling them so that their labels and the form elements themselves fit visually in with the design of our page and with the desired visual flow to assist in usability. So I have got the join.htm from the 12_13 explorers folder opened.

And you may have already noticed, I have my Split View turned on. The form on the right-hand side in Design view and the CSS code on the left-hand side. So again, I can go right up to my related files, click on main.css, and then this time I'm scrolling down to about line 653, somewhere around in there. This is where all of our forms are. Okay. So now what we need to do now is we're going to concentrate on aligning our labels and our form elements together. One of the things that has always kind of amazed me is how many forms continue to be laid out using tables.

A lot of designers really don't want to tackle writing the CSS for laying out a form, because it can be a little tricky and so instead turn to its table structure. Now, there's nothing wrong with that. Plenty of designers do that. But it's not as accessible as using CSS because any user agent including screen readers still have to parse through the table and if you don't use the label tags correctly, a lot of the information can sort of get thrown away. So what we are about to do is to write some styles that are going to help our label and form elements line up and form an attractive layout without using tables.

Okay, so I am going to go up to my form styles and I am going at about line 676. I am going to hit Return and first we're going to tackle the paragraphs that are kind of the parent elements of the labels and the form elements themselves. Remember we surrounded each form element in a paragraph. I am going to type in #mainContent form p and then on a line underneath that I'm going to type in color and we're going to do #193742. Now that's the same color we placed on the form tag, so we don't really need it there. We are just sort of covering our bases in case some other nested style might try to override that.

And underneath that we're going to do a margin. So, we are going to do margin and we are going to do a top margin of 0 and then a space, right margin of 0 and then a space, bottom margin of 20 pixels so it's going to keep those elements away from each other by 20 pixels, and then a space, and then a left margin of 20 pixels. So that should hold all of our form elements away from the edge of the fieldset by 20 pixels and if I save this and click back on my form, I can see that indeed our spacing looks a little better now than it did before. Okay.

Now remember each of these form elements has a label that is associated with them and remember that the labels are found within the label tag. So now we're going to style our labels and try to create that sort of two-column look between the labels and the actual input text fields themselves. So going back into my CSS, on a line below that I am going to type in #mainContent form label, so targeting any of the labels in any form within the mainContent region. And what we are going to do is we're going to assign a width to those and we're going to give them a width of 100 pixels.

So you can take the label and say okay, you need to be 100 pixels wide. That means that the shorter ones, the longer ones, are all going to be exactly the same width. It's not going to stretch your text out. What it will do is sort of give a singular width for all of your labels so you won't have those ragged edges that we're seeing right now. Now, we're going to float these to the left, so do a float left and then let's do a clear left and then we're going to do a margin-right of 0.75ems and then we'll close that rule.

Now, what in a world is that doing? Well, remember from the chapter on layout, floats cause the objects underneath them to come up and float beside them. And in this case, it's going to help the text input fields float beside the labels and not stack one on top of the other. The other thing that the clearing is going to do for us is basically say don't let anybody float to my left and that's going to keep these guys from all stacking up on one line. The margin-right of 0.75ems is going to keep the form elements themselves away from the labels by a consistent amount.

And when I click back on my form, you can see exactly what's going on here. We are getting a two- column look from our form now. And let me point out, because I know you are probably looking at this and thinking wait a minute, Dreamweaver bless its heart, it has a hard time rendering that legend in place. So you just kind of have to get used to seeing it like that unless you want to click on Live View and if you turn on Live View and scroll back down to your form, you will see your form rendered the way it would be rendered within the browser. So again, we're seeing 100 pixel width for these guys and the best way to determine how wide you need that to be is take a look at your longest label and think about maybe how wide that is or how much space you really want to kind of play around with that.

And then the margin-right is sort of pushing our labels away from the form elements and giving us that sort of two-column look from that. Okay, now we still need to do some specific styling. That 100 pixels is probably going to work site-wide, but you will notice that we have a pretty large amount of space here and we have some very, very large labels. You can see we have these guys like From Desert to Sea and all those guys that are breaking down. Profile Bio. They can't fit within that space. So, what I am going to do is go down to my individual forms. After the Join form selector I am going to hit Return and here I am going to type in #mainContent form#frmJoin, once again that is all one word, space, label.

So now we are only targeting labels in this form, not site-wide. And so here what we're going to do is we're going to go ahead and do a width this time of 125 pixels. Let me do a Save All. I am going to click back in. You can see it pushes our form elements away from that a little bit more and that's really going to help us down here with our checkboxes. You can see it almost all fits within there now. We're almost done but I also want to address these textboxes themselves. Maybe I wan to make them a little bit wider or a little bit shorter and arrange them in the same order as well.

So, on the very next line in my Styles, I am going to type in #mainContent form#frmJoin. So remember it's saying any form with an ID of frmJoin and that's why we have no space right here and then another space and here we're going to type in input.text. So remember, these form elements are input tags. This .text if you remember from our chapter on CSS ,that's a class. So, we are basically saying if you ever find an Input text field with the class of text in this specific form, style it like this.

So go ahead and open a curly brace, hit Return to go down the next line, and what we're going to do here is we're going to give them a width of 200 pixels. Close that. And then just below that type in #mainContent form#frmJoin and if you are tired of typing those, you can always copy and paste the first part of the selector and then type in the rest of it. And then after that textarea, that is all one word. Textarea refers to the larger text field that we have down at the bottom that allows comments.

And we're going to give it a width of 500 pixels and give it a height of 150 pixels. And that is why we didn't bother to set a character width or a number of lines for that because we knew we were going to be tweaking that with CSS. Now since we were targeting Input text fields with only this class applied to it, we need to go back and apply that class. So, I am going to turn the Live View off. I can go back to just Design View and select each one of these text fields individually and using the Properties Inspector apply the class Text to it.

When you do that, you will notice that will extend out a little bit. It will get a little bit wider and that's going to assist with the usability, because it's going to give your users more room to type and more room for them to see what they are doing. It's only going to work with text fields, so that's all you need to do with that. So again, we are going to do a Save All and we're going to preview that in our browser. We're starting to get a nicely styled form. We've got two columns of labels followed by the text input fields. We didn't need a table to achieve that styling and our text area down here is the size that we were wanting it as well.

So we've added a great deal of styling to our form, but our form still lacks the overall structure that it needs. Our next task is going to be to finish the layout of our form by creating multiple columns in our form for these checkboxes and to ensure proper label positioning throughout.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Dreamweaver CS5 Essential Training
Dreamweaver CS5 Essential Training

135 video lessons · 89057 viewers

James Williamson

Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 2m 57s
    1. Welcome
      1m 8s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 49s
  2. 7m 50s
    1. What is Dreamweaver?
      3m 16s
    2. Learning web design
      2m 22s
    3. Current web standards
      2m 12s
  3. 43m 9s
    1. The Welcome screen
      4m 5s
    2. Windows and Mac interface differences
      2m 23s
    3. The Application toolbar
      4m 7s
    4. The Document toolbar
      4m 40s
    5. Arranging panels
      8m 19s
    6. Managing workspaces
      7m 32s
    7. The Properties Inspector
      5m 54s
    8. The Insert panel
      6m 9s
  4. 25m 45s
    1. Basic site structure
      3m 11s
    2. File naming conventions
      1m 49s
    3. Defining a new site
      4m 35s
    4. Managing sites
      4m 51s
    5. Managing files and folders
      6m 36s
    6. Working with browsers
      4m 43s
  5. 27m 21s
    1. Creating new documents
      5m 16s
    2. New document preferences
      3m 6s
    3. Setting accessibility preferences
      4m 56s
    4. Working with starter pages
      3m 46s
    5. Managing starter pages
      10m 17s
  6. 30m 2s
    1. Basic tag structure
      2m 15s
    2. Adding structure to text
      8m 20s
    3. Creating lists
      9m 59s
    4. Getting text into Dreamweaver
      5m 59s
    5. Importing Word documents
      3m 29s
  7. 1h 17m
    1. Understanding style sheets
      2m 16s
    2. The anatomy of a CSS rule
      1m 48s
    3. Setting CSS preferences
      6m 36s
    4. The CSS Styles panel
      10m 2s
    5. Controlling CSS through the Properties Inspector
      5m 14s
    6. Using the Code Navigator
      7m 21s
    7. Using CSS Enable
      6m 45s
    8. Understanding element selectors
      8m 11s
    9. Understanding class selectors
      8m 49s
    10. Understanding ID selectors
      5m 59s
    11. Understanding descendant selectors
      6m 51s
    12. Attaching external style sheets
      7m 44s
  8. 1h 47m
    1. Working with units of measurement
      7m 11s
    2. Declaring font families
      9m 39s
    3. Controlling font sizing
      9m 9s
    4. Controlling weight and style
      8m 0s
    5. Controlling line height
      8m 29s
    6. Controlling vertical spacing with margins
      12m 3s
    7. Controlling spacing with padding
      5m 39s
    8. Aligning text
      8m 26s
    9. Transforming text
      5m 36s
    10. Writing global styles
      15m 42s
    11. Writing targeted styles
      17m 37s
  9. 1h 32m
    1. Understanding image types
      5m 3s
    2. Managing assets in Dreamweaver
      12m 51s
    3. Setting image accessibility preferences
      4m 20s
    4. Setting external image editing preferences
      3m 52s
    5. Placing images on the page
      7m 37s
    6. Photoshop integration
      5m 54s
    7. Modifying Smart Objects
      5m 51s
    8. Alternate Photoshop workflows
      8m 8s
    9. Modifying image properties
      11m 14s
    10. Styling images with CSS
      7m 11s
    11. Using background graphics
      9m 3s
    12. Positioning background graphics
      11m 6s
  10. 55m 16s
    1. Link basics
      3m 37s
    2. Setting site linking preferences
      2m 14s
    3. Creating links in Dreamweaver
      11m 1s
    4. Absolute links
      5m 8s
    5. Using named anchors
      11m 19s
    6. Linking to named anchors in external files
      2m 44s
    7. Creating an email link
      5m 24s
    8. Creating CSS-based rollovers
      13m 49s
  11. 1h 34m
    1. CSS structuring basics
      2m 56s
    2. The Box Model
      13m 21s
    3. Understanding floats
      6m 53s
    4. Clearing and containing floats
      8m 56s
    5. Using relative positioning
      4m 8s
    6. Using absolute positioning
      7m 18s
    7. Creating structure with div tags
      12m 7s
    8. Styling basic structure
      10m 34s
    9. Creating a two-column layout
      10m 37s
    10. Using Live View and CSS Inspect
      7m 51s
    11. Using Browser Lab
      9m 39s
  12. 56m 22s
    1. Reviewing table structure
      7m 41s
    2. Importing tabular data
      5m 13s
    3. Creating accessible tables
      9m 56s
    4. Using thead and tbody tags
      4m 0s
    5. Basic table styling
      8m 45s
    6. Styling table headers
      7m 52s
    7. Styling column groups
      4m 22s
    8. Creating custom table borders
      5m 1s
    9. Styling table captions
      3m 32s
  13. 1h 43m
    1. How forms work
      3m 0s
    2. Reviewing form design
      3m 2s
    3. Creating accessible forms
      7m 33s
    4. Setting form properties
      4m 6s
    5. The fieldset and legend tags
      4m 32s
    6. Inserting text fields
      5m 58s
    7. Inserting list menu items
      5m 26s
    8. Inserting checkboxes
      7m 50s
    9. Inserting radio button groups
      6m 22s
    10. Inserting text areas
      4m 12s
    11. Inserting submit buttons
      3m 37s
    12. Basic form styling
      12m 0s
    13. Form element styling
      8m 52s
    14. Styling form layout
      11m 49s
    15. Adding form interactivity
      2m 47s
    16. Using Spry validation widgets
      12m 49s
  14. 1h 23m
    1. Planning for templates
      10m 51s
    2. Creating a new template
      10m 37s
    3. Using editable attributes
      13m 43s
    4. Creating optional regions
      6m 23s
    5. Creating new pages from a template
      9m 17s
    6. Applying templates to existing pages
      6m 9s
    7. Working with nested templates
      7m 56s
    8. Working with repeating regions
      12m 58s
    9. Modifying templates
      5m 41s
  15. 40m 14s
    1. Behaviors overview
      3m 47s
    2. Hiding and showing elements
      9m 18s
    3. Spry overview
      4m 4s
    4. Using Spry widgets
      11m 36s
    5. Adding Spry effects
      3m 6s
    6. Using the Widget Browser
      8m 23s
  16. 28m 18s
    1. Inserting Flash files
      5m 4s
    2. Setting properties for Flash
      6m 27s
    3. Dreamweaver and Flash integration
      6m 6s
    4. Encoding Flash video
      6m 10s
    5. Adding Flash video
      4m 31s
  17. 45m 28s
    1. Running site-wide reports
      6m 33s
    2. Checking for broken links
      5m 41s
    3. Checking for browser compatibility
      8m 3s
    4. Adding remote servers
      8m 0s
    5. Uploading files
      7m 20s
    6. Managing remote sites
      9m 51s
  18. 34s
    1. Goodbye

Start learning today

Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.

Become a member
Sometimes @lynda teaches me how to use a program and sometimes Lynda.com changes my life forever. @JosefShutter
@lynda lynda.com is an absolute life saver when it comes to learning todays software. Definitely recommend it! #higherlearning @Michael_Caraway
@lynda The best thing online! Your database of courses is great! To the mark and very helpful. Thanks! @ru22more
Got to create something yesterday I never thought I could do. #thanks @lynda @Ngventurella
I really do love @lynda as a learning platform. Never stop learning and developing, it’s probably our greatest gift as a species! @soundslikedavid
@lynda just subscribed to lynda.com all I can say its brilliant join now trust me @ButchSamurai
@lynda is an awesome resource. The membership is priceless if you take advantage of it. @diabetic_techie
One of the best decision I made this year. Buy a 1yr subscription to @lynda @cybercaptive
guys lynda.com (@lynda) is the best. So far I’ve learned Java, principles of OO programming, and now learning about MS project @lucasmitchell
Signed back up to @lynda dot com. I’ve missed it!! Proper geeking out right now! #timetolearn #geek @JayGodbold
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.

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 "Already a member? Log in

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


You have completed Dreamweaver CS5 Essential Training.

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

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?


Your file was successfully uploaded.

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.