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Styling table headers

From: Dreamweaver CS5 Essential Training

Video: Styling table headers

Now technically, I know we styled our table headers in the last movie, but there remains, as you can see in our table here, a lot of work to be done. Well currently, there is nothing in our styles that differentiates our table headers from our table data. Other than the font size, they pretty much look the same. As a general rule, this is a bad idea, since users should be able to quickly scan our tables to find the data. Without being able to identify our headers easily, establishing relationships between the data is going to be difficult.

Styling table headers

Now technically, I know we styled our table headers in the last movie, but there remains, as you can see in our table here, a lot of work to be done. Well currently, there is nothing in our styles that differentiates our table headers from our table data. Other than the font size, they pretty much look the same. As a general rule, this is a bad idea, since users should be able to quickly scan our tables to find the data. Without being able to identify our headers easily, establishing relationships between the data is going to be difficult.

Since we've removed any default styling that identifies our headers, we will return to them and the thead element to add our header styling. So here we have the bigsur_trails file open and what we are going to do is we are going to go over to our CSS Styles panel. I am going to collapse the Files panel, and we are looking for our table styles. Now, if you remember in the last movie, we placed them right above the Spotlight region. So we should have three of them right here, data, the th and the td selectors. Well the th selector is the one that we are interested in.

So go ahead and highlight that one. #mainContent table.data th. You can see a list of your properties right here if we are in All view and this is going to be a fast and easy way to add additional properties to this particular rule. So what I want to do is add a new property. I am just going to click right there on that link and I am going to add the color property. Now remember, you can grab that pull- down menu and choose color as well. I am going to hit Tab to go down the next line, and the color I am going to add is #fff, which is white.

As soon as you do that, your table headers go away. Well, not really, but the text is white and on a white background that's not going to show up all that well. So let's add another property and the property we want to add here is the background property. And for background, type in #555, which is a dark gray. Aha, now they show up. And that's a really nice way of differentiating our table headers from the table data itself. Very quickly, very easily, anybody could scan that and figure out kind of what's going on there.

Well that's nice, but I would like another level of differentiation. How about being able to differentiate between the name of a trail versus the data up top where the Trail Name, Type, Length, Path, Elevation, and Rating are being listed. Well remember, the table row up top that contains those table header cells is surrounded by a thead tag. We can use that to our advantage by creating an additional rule. So with our th tag rule right up here still highlighted, go down to your CSS Styles panel and click New CSS Rule.

Once again, make it compound but just ignore anything that comes up here. This is a really long string, and we don't need it to be quite that long. Type in #mainContent table.data thead, all one word. Now, the only downside to writing out these long compound or descendent selectors all by yourself is that spelling counts. Spelling, capitalization, spaces, dots, punctuation, all of it matters.

So if you're not familiar with writing selectors quite as complex as this, take a moment, pause the screen, and just go through there character for character and make sure that you are getting everything right where it needs to be. Just as a way of sort of explaining this, this is looking for any thead element inside of a table with a class of data assigned to it, inside of any element with an ID of mainContent. So it's pretty specific. I am going to go ahead and click OK, and here I'm going to go to my Box category and I am going to change the height to 40 pixels. Interesting! Now, the reason we're doing that is because instead of just using a boring old background color, we are going to use a background graphic.

So I am going to go to he Background category and I'm just going to browse for a background image and I want to go inside the 11_06 folder, _images, and I am just going to turn those to Details so I can see them a little bit clearer. And what I am looking for-- I am just going to expand my names here a little bit. What I am looking for is the thead_back.gif. And if I look at the preview of that, it's a pretty small graphic. It's 5 pixels wide. Aha, 40 pixels tall.

So now we know why our table head needs to be 40 pixels tall as well. And it is again fairly small. only 5 pixels wide. So I am going to click OK. And what we are going to do now is we are going to do a background-repeat of repeat-x. That's going to tile this graphic along the X-axis which is going to make it look like one seamless gradient all the way across. And when we click OK, we see nothing. Well, that was a little anti-climactic, wasn't it? So how come we are not seeing anything.

I want you to think of these table elements as sort of sitting on top of one another. The table would be at the very bottom, for example. And then the table cells would sort of sit on top of that. So if you gave your table a background color, but then gave your table data tags the background color, you wouldn't see your table's background. The same thing is happening here. The thead tag is sort of sitting underneath the th tags sitting on top of it. So that gray background color is sitting on top of the thead tags is covering up our really cool orange gradient.

So what are we going to do here? Because if we remove the background color from the th tags, well it would remove it here, which is where we want it. Well, not all is lost. Remember, using cascading style sheets, you can write some pretty precise selectors. So what we are going to do is we are going to write another selector that targets only the table header cells inside the thead tag. All right. So once again I am going to go right over here to the CSS Styles panel. I'm going to make sure that I have the thead tag highlighted, because I want my new rule to appear just underneath this one.

I am going to choose New CSS Rule, and I am just going to type in #mainContent table.data thead th. So it's almost exactly identical to the last one, we are just adding another table header element right there on the end of it. Now, go ahead and click OK. And for color, we want to type in #000, so the text will be black on top of that orange gradient. Now go to Background and actually these guys don't need a background color so it would be very tempting to go into my background-color here and choose transparent.

But there is actually an easier way to do this. Unfortunately, it doesn't allow us to do it through this dialog box. So what I am going to do is I am going to go ahead and click OK and then using the CSS Styles panel, I am going to add another property and I am going to add background, none. Easy enough. Now, we will just do a Save All. And you might be saying to yourself, wait a second, I thought we were supposed to see a cool orange gradient behind our top header cells, what's the deal? Well, Dreamweaver's Design View does a pretty good job of rendering most things, but it does a horrible job of rendering background images on thead tags.

I don't know why, but it just doesn't do them. So what I would like you to do is go up and turn Live View on, scroll back down again, and there you should see your table header's gradient in all its gradient goodness. So now we are getting somewhere. Our headers are fairly distinct from the rest of the table and they are generating some real visual interest. There is some pop there. Notice that the top headers and side headers have separate but related styling, which signals intent and relationships visually. Now that we have taken care of our headers, we need to turn our attention to making the table data itself a little bit more visually appealing.

Show transcript

This video is part of

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Dreamweaver CS5 Essential Training

135 video lessons · 89130 viewers

James Williamson
Author

 
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
      34s

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