Looking for the very best CSS books to get up to speed or hone your skills?
This list was first published in 2011, and has been updated yearly since.
I decided to run with the best CSS books of 2012 despite it only being the first quarter of the year for the simple fact that CSS3 is the new golden child. Whether you want to learn CSS first or step right into CSS3, the fundamentals of the language remain the same. This list will remain the last and definitive guide of the best classic CSS books since newly released books join the CSS3 ranks. See my list of best CSS3 books here.
CSS: The Missing Manual
Widely considered among the best CSS books, this one is definitely a must have for beginners and pros alike. Not only does the author really know what he is talking about, but his teaching style and writing is clear and easy to follow. At over 500 pages, the book is full of detailed examples, solid illustrations, and has tutorials at the end of each chapter to hone your skills and cement what you’ve learnt.
Browser issues, incompatibilities and the relevant hacks are detailed in full. The author also provides many online reference links for a more detailed explanation of important topics. If you only get one CSS book, make it this one: 80% of readers gave it 5 stars, with 15% giving it 4 stars. I still have it on my shelf, and reference it often. Read more..
CSS: The Definitive Guide
Another well-written and received CSS book which comes highly recommended. Eric Meyer has been revising this book with new editions for over ten years and is one of the leading authors on CSS. He has extensive practical experience and design knowledge, binding them together to cover topics and properties that have real cross-browser support and uses.
This book is not so well tailored to the true beginner as others, but if you have a little practical experience in CSS or are willing to put a bit of extra work in getting your head around the fundamentals, then you’ll still get a lot from this resource. Read more..
Stylin’ with CSS: A Designer’s Guide
A third highly recommended book for getting started with CSS, with extremely high positive reviews and ratings by readers. It is very well-written and easy to follow, with easy explanations and a clear, logical layout. It does not go into unnecessary detail for readers wanting to learn and apply their new-found skills in the real world. For beginners to CSS, this book is a great, entertaining and easy read with practical examples, solid reference chapters and plenty of useful information. Read more..
Smashing CSS: Professional Techniques for Modern Layout
Another CSS book by Eric Meyer, Smashing CSS goes beyond the basics and assumes at least a general familiarity with the fundamentals of CSS. As such, it is not as idea; for beginners as my first two recommendations. Unlike many of his other books on the subject, Smashing CSS has a lighter, more humorous tone and purpose, making it more of a pleasure to read.
He begins by introducing the tools of the trade such as Firebug and SelectORacle, covers the finer points of layout and effects, and also introduces you to the future with HTML5 and CSS3 (slightly deviating from a pure CSS book). Very few in the industry can show you the ins and outs of CSS like Eric Meyer and Smashing CSS provides techniques that are thorough, utterly useful, and universally applicable in the real world. Read more..
The Zen of CSS Design: Visual Enlightenment for the Web
This is not a book that will introduce you to the fundamentals of CSS if you are just starting out. It is primarily aimed at people who want to improve the aesthetics and seamlessness of their website. However, because it was published in 2005, this book (and the Zen Garden site it often references) is a little dated and it’s techniques and examples for styling websites are not as relevant today. Much like a graphical portfolio, this book shows lovely examples of CSS for its time and inspired new themes and designs. Read more..
CSS Mastery: Advanced Web Standards Solutions
Another well-received all-rounder, CSS Mastery: Advanced Web Standards Solutions, Second Edition unites the disparate information on CSS-based design spread throughout the internet into one definitive, modern guide. Revised to cover CSS3, the book can be read from front to back, with each chapter building on the previous one.
This book is a great reference point for beginner to intermediate designers and is a great stepping stone into the more advanced world of CSS3 for those interested. It has a casual but intelligent writing style and all three authors provide valuable insight into beating those pesky browser-specific issues. Read more..