CSS: The Missing Manual

CSS: The Missing Manual — David Sawyer McFarland, O’Reilly 2015 (4th ed.), ISBN 978-1-491-91805-0

McFarland’s eminently practical book explains the structure and features of CSS from the perspective of a raw beginner. This does lead to some amusing baby steps, such as the introductory section on “mouse clicks,” but don’t let that deter you. McFarland quickly proceeds to in-depth discussions of selectors, spacing, float-based layout, responsive design, and any other CSS topic of importance, including plenty of good advice on unexpected behavior and browser compatibility.

The fourth edition is largely unchanged in content and structure from the third edition (called CSS3: The Missing Manual), with the exception of page layout coverage: two chapters on CSS grids and flexbox are new, the chapter on styling for print is gone. Most web developers probably won’t miss it. Editing has improved dramatically: while there are still a number of errata, as expected in a 700-page book, this does not compare to the flood of obvious errors in the third edition.

One factual mistake left over from that edition is the claim that “web browsers don’t know how to hyphenate long words” (p.164) which is currently only true for Google’s browsers. That minor point aside, I recommend CSS: The Missing Manual for anyone who needs to style HTML content.

(See Developer Books for my complete review archive.)

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