Joe asks the CSS Guy for a book recommendation

Joe R. writes:

I’m a web designer for a fairly large company, but keep getting detracted from doing my web work by things like “business development”, “client relations”, and the like. I mean, I guess my boss decided that in addition to maintaining the company’s website, I should be able to do other stuff as well. Anyway, in all this commotion, I haven’t been able to spend nearly as much time as I’ve wanted to learning the ins-and-outs of CSS (which is my current most favorite thing).

I’m pretty much a novice with CSS, but every day I scour the Internet for any tips and tricks I can get my hands on. My question to you is this: if you could recommend one book for a novice CSS-er, what would it be?

Joe, I’m flattered you’d ask. I understand how a web designer has much more to do than just design all day. I’ll offer you what I know, but it may not amount to two cents. For this reason, I’d like to open your question up to others, who I hope wouldn’t mind telling what book helped them most.

I’ve only read two books related to CSS – Designing with Web Standards by Jeffrey Zeldman and Web Standards Solutions by Dan Cederholm. The rest of my education is spent doing what you do – scouring the internet to see what other people have done.

Both of those books excellent and helpful. I read Zeldman’s first edition at a time when I was just starting to explore CSS. Because of that timing, it stirred an excitement and motivation in me to change my approach to design from thinking in tables and images to thinking in web standards. It’s not about the latest tricks – it’s about migrating to something versatile, accessible, and future-proof, and it’s a very introductory-level book. If you find yourself in a similar spot, I cannot give Zeldman’s book a high enough recommendation.

Whereas Zeldman’s book felt about 50% how-to and 50% why-to, Cederholm’s book seemed to focus more on the how-to. I think the book is great for those who are convinced to do all-CSS based layouts and know the basics, but want to get a little more in-depth with what can be done with various bits of code. I personally felt like I picked up Cederholm’s book a tad too late, as even though it gave me plenty more to think about, I felt like I had already learned much of it already. Still, it’s part of my collection, and I’m proud to have it.

Readers, have you any suggestions for Joe?


This post was ported from an old host and CMS, so many comments were lost. Below are the comments that I found were most helpful regarding this post that I salvaged. Some links or attributions may not be working correctly.


Cesar said:
Here are some other great CSS books that I would recommend reading as well The Best-Practice Guide to XHTML and CSS by Patrick Griffiths of Vivabit and Transcending CSS: The Fine Art of Web Design by Andy Clarke and Molly E. Holzschlag of Stuff and Nonsense and Molly.com respectively.
The Best-Practice Guide to XHTML and CSS is a great primer and reference guide to proper web standards coding while Transcending CSS: The Fine Art of Web Design is an additional discussion based book on the future of web design and CSS.

cody lindley said:
My two cents…
This book should be the go to book (Beginning CSS, Apress) for those interested in learning CSS.
Once you have read this book, buy A Definitive Guide on CSS and consider purchasing CSS Mastery or Pro CSS Techniques for advanced CSS topics.

omar said:
I only have two. The better of the two is the CSS Mastery book linked by cody above.
The one that got me up to speed was Teach Yourself CSS in 10 Minutes. It’s not a book that will teach you all kinds of cool CSS tricks, but it’s a good (and cheap) book for learning the basics. I got it over a year ago, and I still reference it regularly.

Lorissa said:
I’ll definitely second the recommendation for Dan Cedarholm’s Web Standard Solutions. His second book, Bulletproof Web Design is excellent as well. Both are well worth it.
Sounds like I need to get my hands on CSS Mastery though.