When developers push aside CSS to concentrate on JavaScript performance, they might be overlooking some great applications of CSS. This eBook, “CSS Essentials”, explores some practical implementations of CSS.


The implementations of CSS presented in this eBook include usage of pseudo-elements in CSS, decoupling HTML from CSS, modern CSS layouts with equal height columns, taming advanced CSS selectors, and many others. These techniques and articles will help improve both the performance and maintainability of your websites across browsers.


  • Backgrounds In CSS: Everything You Need To Know
  • The Mystery Of The CSS Float Property
  • The Z-Index CSS Property: A Comprehensive Look
  • CSS Sprites: Useful Techniques, Or Potential Nuisance?
  • Modern CSS Layouts: The Essential Characteristics
  • Modern CSS Layouts, Part 2: The Essential Techniques
  • Writing CSS For Others
  • Decoupling HTML From CSS
  • CSS Specificity And Inheritance
  • Equal Height Column Layouts With Borders And Negative Margins In CSS
  • !important CSS Declarations: How And When To Use Them
  • CSS Sprites Revisited
  • Learning To Use The :before And :after Pseudo-Elements In CSS
  • Taming Advanced CSS Selectors
  • Six CSS Layout Features To Look Forward To

Technical Information

  • Formats: PDF, EPUB, Kindle (DRM-free)
  • Pages: 281 pages
  • Language: English
  • Released: May 2012
  • Publisher: Smashing Media GmbH
  • ISBN: 978-3-943075-37-3

Excerpt From Chapter 5

Modern CSS Layouts: The Essential Characteristics — by Zoe Mickley Gillenwater

Now is an exciting time to be creating CSS layouts. After years of what felt like the same old techniques for the same old browsers, we’re finally seeing browsers implement CSS 3, HTML 5 and other technologies that give us cool new tools and tricks for our designs.

But all of this change can be stressful, too. How do you keep up with all of the new techniques and make sure your Web pages look great on the increasing number of browsers and devices out there? In part 1 of this article, you’ll learn the five essential characteristics of successful modern CSS websites. In part 2 of this article, you’ll learn about the techniques and tools that you need to achieve these characteristics.

Excerpt From Chapter 7

Writing CSS For Others — by Harry Roberts

I think a lot of us CSS authors are doing it wrong. We are selfish by nature; we get into our little bubbles, writing CSS (as amazing as it may be) with only ourselves in mind. How many times have you inherited a CSS file that’s made you say “WTF” at least a dozen times?

HTML has a standard format and syntax that everyone understands. For years, programmers have widely agreed on standards for their respective languages. CSS doesn’t seem to be there yet: everyone has their own favorite format, their own preference between single-line and multi-line, their own ideas on organization, and so on.

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