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Understanding element selectors

From: Dreamweaver CS5 Essential Training

Video: Understanding element selectors

Now that we have a better understanding of how Dreamweaver works with and creates CSS, it's time to focus on learning the CSS itself. Now we won't be able to cover every detail of CSS. It's a really, really big subject, but we're going to cover the basics, so that this foundation can carry you for the remainder of the title. I recommend checking out the other CSS titles on the lynda.com Online Training Library for a more thorough exploration of CSS. Now the most basic and fundamental Selector in CSS is the Element Selector.

Understanding element selectors

Now that we have a better understanding of how Dreamweaver works with and creates CSS, it's time to focus on learning the CSS itself. Now we won't be able to cover every detail of CSS. It's a really, really big subject, but we're going to cover the basics, so that this foundation can carry you for the remainder of the title. I recommend checking out the other CSS titles on the lynda.com Online Training Library for a more thorough exploration of CSS. Now the most basic and fundamental Selector in CSS is the Element Selector.

Put simply, the Element Selector allows us to restyle an element based on its tag. To restyle our paragraphs, for example, we simply use the P Selector. Now there are pros and cons to using Element Selectors. One of the things that make them so powerful is that by using them, we're affecting all of those elements, not just specific ones. That means that restyling the p tag changes all paragraphs site-wide. This can save a tremendous amount of time, but rarely do we need all paragraphs to look exactly the same. Thankfully, to deal with that, we have additional Selector types that can help us out.

Before we move on to those, let's practice creating a few Element Selectors. So I've opened up the element_selectors.htm file. We have a couple of elements on the page that we want to style. We have a heading 1 tag, we have some paragraphs, and we have another heading 1 tag a little further down the page. Well, one of the things that I want to explore, in addition to creating paragraph tags, is the concept of inheritance. It's certainly easier to understand once you see it. So let's just go ahead and write our first Element Selector. I'm going to go over to my CSS Styles panel.

The little page icon down here in the lower right-hand corner of it with a plus symbol is New CSS Rule. I'm going to go ahead and click. Now the New CSS Rule dialog box allows us to write styles based on which Selector Type we're looking for. Notice, for example, at the very top we have a pulldown menu that allows us to create Class selectors, ID selectors, Tag, and Compound selectors. Well, Element selectors are often referred to as Tag selectors. So that's the one I want to choose for what we're doing here. So I'm just going to choose Tag Selector.

Now you may have noticed something different come up in this little pulldown menu below that. I had heading 1 come up. You may see a paragraph or some other element. Whatever you're currently selected on, or whatever you're focused on in Dreamweaver, that element is going to show up. Actually, I'm going to style a tag that's much higher up in the page order. I'm going to style the body tag. Now I could either type that in, or I can grab it from the pulldown menu. You can go through a list of all your available tags and choose it that way. Now the body tag is the parent tag around all visual elements.

So by writing a style for the body tag, we're going to use the concept of inheritance. Inheritance says that any property placed on a parent tag is inherited by its child tags. What that means is if we applied a color, for example, to a body tag or a font-size or a font-family, then everything inside of it would be that family, the size and that color. Now that sounds great, but it can a little tricky because not all properties are going to inherit. They're not all going to inherit exactly the same way.

So it takes a little getting used to before you feel like you're fully in control of inheritance. Now I can define this Rule in an external style sheet, or I can embed them in this document. For this particular lesson, we're going to do it in This document only. That will embed the styles on this page, meaning they will only apply to this document. I'm going to go ahead and click OK. From the CSS Rule Definition dialog box that comes up, the first option I'm going to change here is some typography options. So I'm going to stay right within this Category.

For Font-family, I'm going to grab the pulldown menu there. I'm going to choose Georgia, Times New Roman, Times, and Serif. You might be wondering why we've chosen five fonts there. This is something called a font stack. In the chapter on controlling typography with CSS, I'll talk about font stacks in more detail. For Font-size, I'm going to choose 100%. Now again, I typed that in, 100%, but you can also use this unit of measurement pulldown menu beside it to choose from all these available units of measurements: pixels, points, ems.

We typically use percentage for the body tag, because what that will do is it sets the entire page's Font- size relative to the user agent. So if a browser has its default Font- size set to 16 pixels, that's what our default Font-size is going to be. We're just saying 100%. It also helps us get around some tricky rendering errors in Internet Explorer. So it's a good idea to go ahead and use percentages when you're working with the body tag. Now for Color, I'm just going to go ahead and #666, which is a dark gray. So now we're going to have Georgia, Times New Roman, Times, or Serif as our Font.

Our Font-size is going to be 100% of whatever the user agent's default Font-size is going to be. Then for Color, we're using sort of a dark gray. I'm going to go ahead and click OK, and notice how everything on my page changed. The headings and the paragraphs, they all inherited those values. So our headings are 100% of the size that they would normally be. Our paragraphs are 100% of the size that they would normally be. They're all using the Font Georgia. They're all that dark gray. So now we get a little bit more specific by targeting those specific elements that are still on the page.

In this case, we're going to do the heading 1. So I'll go right back to my CSS Styles panel. I'll click on New CSS Rule. Once again, I'm going to Tag for my Selector Type. Once again, I'm going to choose h1 or type in h1 for my Selector Name. So all you have to know is the name of the tag that you're controlling, and type in right there after you've chosen Tag from the pulldown menu. Once again, for Rule Definition, make sure it says This document only, and click OK. Now here, we're going to make some changes. Maybe I would like my document site- wide to be in Georgia, but for my headings, I might want those to be in a sans-serif Font.

So I can actually overwrite what the body tag is doing by telling the heading one tags, "No, no, no. You need to be Arial." So go ahead and grab your font- family pulldown menu, and choose Arial. Currently, right now, we're telling your headings to be their default size, because the body tag just basically said, "Be 100% of what you would normally be." But if you want to take more control over that, you can. For a Font-size, for my headings, for example, I'm going to tell it to be 1.2. Then I'm just going to type in em for ems. If you hit Tab, you can see that in the pulldown menu there.

So we're going to discuss ems in more detail when we talk about units of measurement in just a little bit. Just understand that ems are a relative unit of measurement that, once again, is basically telling a heading, "Be relative to the size that you would normally be in the user agent." We're also going to change the color of our headings. So I'm going to go right in the Color dialog box and type in #600, which is sort of a deep burgundy color. I'm going to go ahead and click OK. Now take a look at what happens to my headings. They shrink down a little bit. They change color, and they change fonts.

So we're still inheriting some of the things from the body tag, but for the most part, we almost did a total overwrite with our heading 1 styles. Now the whole concept of using inheritance means that you don't have to write a lot of styles for your child tags. So we're going to write a style for our paragraph selector, but we're really not going to have to do a lot with it. So I'm going to go right over on my CSS Styles panel, choose New CSS Rule. Once again, I'm going to choose Tag from the pulldown menu. I'm just going to type in p, for paragraph. Make sure it's referring to This document only and click OK. Now our paragraphs are the font we need them to be, and they're the color we need them to be. They're inheriting that from the body tag.

So all we need to do is change the size. So I'm going to make the size 1.2 ems, e-m, and go ahead and click OK. Now our headings are 1.2 ems and our paragraphs are 1.2 ems as well. They're pretty much the same size. That's kind of cool. You get to take control over the sizing of elements. As a matter of fact, if you really felt like it, you can make your paragraphs larger than your headings. It's really up to you, when you're working with CSS. If you've taken a moment to scan and read the text that's on the page, you can see that some of the text needs styling that doesn't match what we've just done.

If we were limited to just Tag or Element selectors, we wouldn't be able to achieve this. Now thankfully, we have additional selectors available to us. We'll use one of those, the Class Selector, in our next movie.

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This video is part of

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Dreamweaver CS5 Essential Training

135 video lessons · 89472 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

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