Book Review: Integrated HTML and CSS | WebReference

Book Review: Integrated HTML and CSS

Book Review: Integrated HTML and CSS

By Lee Underwood

Integrated HTML and CSS Book Cover Author: Virginia DeBolt
Total Pages: 400
Publisher: Sybex
Copyright: 2005
ISBN: 0782143784

Traditionally, when teaching to code Web pages, HTML is taught first, followed by CSS. This is probably due to the fact that HTML has been around longer than CSS, but since both are related, it would make more sense to teach both at the same time.

That's what Virginia DeBolt has been doing. Virginia teaches combined HTML and CSS courses at community colleges and on the Web at Web Teacher. She has now incorporated those techniques into a book, Integrated HTML and CSS: A Smarter, Faster Way to Learn.

The book is an excellent resource for beginners as it assumes no prior knowledge of HTML or CSS. For those who do know HTML, it will be beneficial in learning CSS. The book actually teaches XHTML, focusing on the newer standard ("recommendation").

The Basic Structure

The book is divided into fourteen chapters plus a glossary. Chapter 7, "Links and Link Styles" is available as a PDF download. Here's a listing of the Table of Contents:

  • Chapter 1: How to Write XHTML and CSS
  • Chapter 2: Location, Location: Where to Put a Style
  • Chapter 3: Page Basics: DOCTYPE, Head, Body, and Body Styles
  • Chapter 4: Headings and Heading Styles
  • Chapter 5: Page Divisions: Div for Structure and Layout
  • Chapter 6: Paragraph and Text Styles
  • Chapter 7: Links and Link Styles
  • Chapter 8: Multimedia, Images, and Image Styles
  • Chapter 9: Lists and List Styles
  • Chapter 10: Tables and Table Styles
  • Chapter 11: Forms and Form Styles
  • Chapter 12: Publishing and Testing Your Pages
  • Chapter 13: CSS for Weblogs
  • Chapter 14: Design Basics

Most of the chapters are divided into five main sections. The first and second sections, "Learn the XHTML" and "Learn the CSS," guide the student through the proper technique of coding for the featured subject area, such as headings, lists, etc. The coding for each technique is shown, along with what it should look like in the browser. Another section is called "Real World Example." An example from a real Web site is shown so the student can see the technique in use in actual practice. Next is a section called, "Challenge Yourself." The student is given suggested changes to make to the page in order to challenge the material he/she has just learned. The chapter wraps up with a summary section.

Along the way there are tips, notes, and highlights for those items that need additional explanation.

Added Extras

The book includes a chapter on publishing and testing Web pages. It explains how to go about finding Web space, using FTP software, obtaining a domain name, testing the site, and search engine tips. There are additional chapters on multimedia, weblogs, and design basics.

In addition, there are 16 color pages. Several of these show how the finished pages created in each chapter should look, while others give site navigation details. There's also a two-page spread listing the Web-safe colors.

A CD is included with the book containing project files for use with the tutorials given in each chapter. It also has trial versions of several HTML and CSS text editing programs, as well as something called a "Style Me Challenge Page." This is used to give the student additional practice in writing style sheets.


The one thing that I noticed that was missing in the book was instruction regarding the combined use of the color and background-color CSS properties. If not used together, problems could arise from user-created style sheets. This combined use of both properties is recommended by many teachers of CSS, such as Eric Meyers. In addition, the W3C CSS Validator FAQ also recommends it. While not a major issue, it is important in terms of accessibility, which the book does address quite nicely.

A Good Place to Start

The book flows very smoothly, beginning with basic techniques and slowing progressing to more complex coding. Not a lot of time is spent on background or theory. By Chapter 3 the student is already building his/her first Web page, complete with CSS. This is the type of book for someone who wants to learn how to create Web pages without having to read through a lot of theory. While there is more to designing Web pages than just putting code onto a page, students are encouraged if they can begin to apply their newfound knowledge right away. If you're looking to get started designing Web pages, start with this book. It will quickly put you on the right track.

Created: March 2, 2005