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Since its introduction in 1996, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) has revolutionized Web design. Now, in 2004, most Web pages use CSS, and many designers base their layouts entirely on CSS. To do so successfully requires a good understanding of how CSS works. The purpose of this book is to describe how designers can take full advantage of CSS 2.1, which is the newly released update of the specification.

CSS’s journey from an idea to a specification – and then on to a specification designers can rely on – has been long and arderous. The creator of the CSS Zen Garden (described in Chapter 11, “From HTML extensions to CSS”) describes it this way:

Littering a dark and dreary road lay the past relics of browser-specific tags, incompatible DOMs, and broken CSS support. Today, we must clear the mind of past practices. Web enlightenment has been achieved thanks to the tireless efforts of folk like the W3C, WaSP, and the major browser creators.

Indeed, we believe that the web is a more enlightened place now that CSS has matured to a stage where it can be used for advanced layouts in a range of browsers. This book tells you all you need to know to start using CSS.


Creating a lasting specification for the Web is not a job for one person. That’s why the two authors joined forces. Then, we found out two wasn’t enough, and a W3C Working Group (which includes W3C technical staff and W3C member representatives) was formed. The CSS 2.1 specification is the product of that working group. We are indebted to Tantek Çelik and Ian Hickson, who are co-editors of the CSS 2.1 specification, and to the other members of the group. In particular, we want to thank David Baron, Jim Bigelow, Kimberly Blessing, Frederick Boland, Ada Chan, Don Day, Michael Day, Elika Etemad, Daniel Glazman, David Hyatt, Björn Höhrmann, and Kevin Lawver.

CSS 2.1 is only the most recent version of the CSS specification. The foundation for CSS was laid by CSS1 and CSS2, and many people helped write, maintain, and promote those documents. In roughly chronological order:

  • David Raggett and Steven Pemberton were influential in establishing the concept of style sheets for the Web.

  • Eric Meyer created the test suite for the CSS1 specification and has promoted CSS tirelessly ever since.

  • Todd Fahrner created the W3C Core Styles (described in Chapter 14), the “acid” test, and the Ahem font.

  • Ian Jacobs and Chris Lilley were co-editors of the CSS2 specification.

  • Brian Wilson provided extensive documentation of CSS and its implementations.

  • Jeffrey Zeldman has publicized widely on why standards, including CSS, are good for you.

  • Dave Shea created the wonderful CSS Zen Garden.

  • Michael Day and Xuehong Liu for making it possible to print CSS. Thanks to the Prince formatter, we were able to produce the book ourselves using the same methods we preach in this book.

Lastly, our thanks to Tim Berners-Lee, without whom none of this would have been possible.

Håkon Wium Lie & Bert Bos
February 2005

Trademark Notice

AltaVista is a trademark or registered trademark of Compaq Computer Corporation. Bitstream is a trademark or registered trademark of Bitstream, Inc. FrameMaker and PostScript are trademarks or registered trademarks of Adobe Systems, Inc. Opera is a trademark or registered trademark of Opera Software. Internet Explorer, Word, and Windows are trademarks or registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation. Java and JavaScript are trademarks or registered trademarks of Sun Microsystems, Inc. Mosaic and NCSA Mosaic are proprietary trademarks of University of Illinois. Netscape Navigator, the Netscape logos are registered trademarks and tradenames of Netscape Communications Corporation. TrueType is a trademark or a registered trademark of Apple Computer, Inc. Prince is a trademark or registered trademark of YesLogic Pty. Ltd. Linux is a trademark or registered trademark of Linus Torvalds. LEGO is a trademark or registered trademark of The LEGO Group.

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