Easy Way to Stylize Websites: CSS

One thing I learned from being in the mortgage banking business is that you need to have a basic understanding of what your IT/Web Marketing department is hoping to accomplish. If you can give them guidance or at least understand the basics of what they are talking about, your team will better appreciate your suggestions to improve the project.

Cascading Style Sheets also known to the technical world as CSS is a way in which the look and feel or the interface of a markup language can be described.

Although it is most often used or applied to interfaces that have been created in HyperText Markup Language (HTML) or Extensible HyperText Markup Language (XHTML), it can be used on a myriad of document types; Extensible Markup Language (XML), Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) and XML User interface Language (XUL) just to name a few. In short, CSS is a basic necessity from which most websites formatting are designed.

There are three types of style sheets.

They are; 1) Internal/ Embedded, 2) Inline and 3) External.

The types of style that would be best used for your website depends on what the purpose is.

Internal styles are characterized by their position in the “<head>” section or tag of the current document or web page. They can only be used once.

Inline styles are distinguished by being used in the middle of the HTML markup of a particular element. It is strongly advised to avoid this type of style as they cannot be reused which effectively defeats the purpose for which CSS was intended.

It is recommended that this style only be used as a last resort. It can be used to override the styles that are pre-existing in the External Style Sheet.

External styles are most notable and preferred as they are, by their name definition, placed outside of the document they are being used to edit. Their fame and prominence is warranted as they contain most of the re-useable styles for web pages. They are created as a text file with the “.css” extension appended to it instead of the “.txt”. All the styles for different elements are saved in it and then linked into the HTML coding for the web page so formatting is automatically done.

All of these styles “CASCADE” when implemented together in one or more web pages. At times, conflicts present themselves and only one style can be active. The browser uses a mechanism called “The Cascade” to resolve the controversy between them and the end result is a beautifully stylized page with all the elements working together harmoniously. The order they are chosen in is 1) Inline, 2) Embedded and then 3) External.

In concluding, knowing CSS is paramount to anyone doing web programming as it allows for ease of editing and decreases the time necessary for presentation of great, tidy websites.