How to Learn CSS on Your Own

In Brief...

If you have already learned some HTML and are ready to add some style, it's time to learn CSS. Here we provide some tips for finding the most popular up-to-date CSS tutorials and books.


How to Choose a CSS Tutorial

There are plenty of free CSS tutorials to choose from on the web. When evaluating a CSS tutorial, you should consider the following:

  1. Is it up to date? - While the basics of CSS tutorial hasn't really changed since it was first introduced in the late 1990s, browser support for CSS has changed. If you look at old tutorials, they are likely to come with warnings about what is and is not supported. Web designers don't need to be nearly as concerned with browser-support issues as they used to be.
  2. Does it explain why and how? - In general, I like tutorials that get you coding quickly. However, with CSS, I think it's important to understand why CSS is important and how it works. Actually coding CSS is so straightforward, that once you understand how it all works, it's just a matter of being introduced to a finite set of properties and practice, practice, practice.

In addition to our own free CSS tutorial and Advanced CSS Tutorial (neither of which has ads), we recommend these other tutorials:

  1. HTML Dog's CSS Beginner Tutorial - a nice clean tutorial that covers the right content and doesn't have too many ads. HTML Dog also has follow on Intermediate and Advanced CSS tutorials.
  2. w3schools' CSS Tutorial - a solid CSS tutorial with try-it-yourself examples.
  3. Shay Howe's Learn to Code HTML & CSS - If you're new to HTML as well, Shay does a good job integrating HTML with CSS, which arguably should be learned together.
  4. Mozilla's Getting started with CSS - Not for newbie developers. But if you are very technical already and have done a bit of programming, you might appreciate this more technical introduction to CSS.

How to Choose an CSS Book

There is no shortage of books on CSS. On our last check, Amazon listed 3,604 CSS books with 15 scheduled to come out in the near future. Here's an excellent way to find a good introduction to CSS book on Once you identify the book you want, you can buy it from anywhere you like:

  1. Go to Amazon's Advanced Book Search.
  2. For Keywords, enter "Cascading Style Sheets".
  3. For Title, enter "CSS".
  4. For Subject, select "Computers & Technology" so you just get books about CSS programming (and not about Chicken Soup for the Soul).
  5. For the Pub Date fields, enter "After", "Jan", "2014". This will ensure that most of the results account for CSS3 and that they're recent enough so that all of the content in an introductory book will still be relevant.
  6. For Sort Results by, select "Bestselling". You might be tempted to select "Avg. Customer Review", but that will result in a lot of noise as many of the books that have high average reviews only have a couple of ratings. So, your form should look like this:

    CSS Book Search
  7. Press Search
  8. On the left-hand side of the resulting search results page, under Audience, click Beginners & Seniors to filter out the books targeting experienced programmers:

    CSS Book Search: Beginners
  9. Finally, select one of the top books that looks appealing to you. You may want to use the Look Inside feature and read some of the reviews to make sure it feels like a fit.

Even with these search parameters, you get a lot of noise. If you want to skip the search and just buy a book, Murach's HTML5 and CSS3 is a good option.

And, of course, if you're looking for professional CSS training, please check out our courses listed below.

Happy CSS Learning!

Author: Nat Dunn

Nat Dunn founded Webucator in 2003 to combine his passion for web development with his business expertise and to help companies benefit from both.