CSS Mastery

16 comments | Posted: 28 February 06 in Books, by Nathan Smith

CSS Mastery I am going to go out on a limb here, and assume that if you are currently reading this article, you are interested in web design. If that’s true, then you should really purchase CSS Mastery by Andy Budd. No, seriously – Just buy it right now, and read the rest of this review later. Go ahead, it won’t hurt my feelings, I’ll wait…

Have you made your purchase yet? Good, you won’t regret it. With all of that squared away, allow me to say that this is one of the most valuable web design books I have ever read. You could think of it like a compilation of every cool CSS trick and technique that has been discovered / invented to date. While you might be familiar with some of these methods already, having them all at your fingertips in one place makes this book worth its weight in gold.

Ever wonder how to do those cool Flickr style roll-over tags? Confused about the many available methods of text / image replacement? Longing for an effective way to comment your code? Need a better understanding of all the CSS hacks and filters (yes, there’s a difference) out there? This book covers it all. It’s not only smoke and mirrors though, as there are several chapters on solid principles such as specificity: descendant / child / adjacent selectors, as well as absolute and relative positioning. There are also the requisite chapters on advanced layout techniques and creating functional navigation systems.

As if that wasn’t enough, Andy has enlisted the help of two other CSS Masters: Cameron Moll and Simon Collison to help wrap things up. These are two guys who are not only visual design experts, but also know how to create beautiful code. They have each contribued a case study chapter, showing how to create a professional looking site from scratch, describing each step along the way.

Dan Cederholm has described this book as “a card catalog of indispensible solutions, tricks, and tips that a web professional such as yourself should not be without.” CSS Mastery isn’t for beginners, but if you’re already familiar with the basics and are ready to kick it up a notch, this is the book for you. I am typically not one to over-hype things, but I was genuinely impressed with the sheer amount of information packed into such a concise read. It is definitely one that will remain near my desk, within arm’s reach, for years to come.

Discuss This Topic

  1. 1 Robert

    You beat me to the book review, hehe. This book is really a must have. Nathan’s zealousness for this book is not overstated, and I would even venture to say it is understated, the book is that good.

    If you have learned CSS on your own figuring out how to make things work, this books explains why these things work.

    There are comprehesive chapters on Hacks/Filters and Bugs and Bug Fixing. These chapters not only show you how to do things, but why you are doing them.

    That is the most important aspect of programming in any type of language/scripting language, is understanding why you are doing what you are doing.

    This book will definately educate you on CSS and will be a valuable resource sitting by your side as you code your site. Buy it!

  2. 2 Ben

    Well, I’ve been looking for a good CSS book to purchase; looks like this will be the one. I was also looking at Molly Holzschlag’s book “Spring into CSS and HTML” which I also heard was good. I know the basics of CSS so “CSS Mastery” sounds like a great choice for me. Thanks for the review!

  3. 3 Yannick

    This one is definitely on my list of books to buy. Thanks for reviewing it Nathan, good to know it will be money well spent.

  4. 4 Heiko

    I’ve got a week ago and I’ve to agree with you. Great book, interesting articles and especially those two case studies. Therefore I wrote a book review too, but in german ;o) and a lot of people are interested in reading it. Conclusion: Andy did a nice job!

  5. 5 Chris Harrison

    I consider the book a must-have in any web designers’ library. It’s clear, concise… I’ve enjoyed it since the day I received it.

  6. 6 Adam Spooner

    Nathan, once again, I’m taking your word on a book…and apparently a few others people’s. I just placed my order and am nerdily anticipating it’s arrival. I’ve been wanting to dive into the depths of CSS for some time, but haven’t known which books are good and which books are coasters. Thanks for helping us out with your reviews…and keep em’ coming!

  7. 7 Natalie

    I knew I should have posted my review last week! Actually I did an experiment with the image map thing Andy did. Fun, and different.

    It’s a great book, and great review!

  8. 8 Nathan Smith

    Adam: You’re really going to like this one. Don’t worry, I don’t recommend things just for the heck of it. In fact, I actually only own three CSS books…

    • CSS Mastery
    Professional CSS
    CSS: The Definitive Guide

  9. 9 AJP

    This is a definite must own book. A fantastic book in the class of Designing with Web Standards, Bulletproof Web Design, Web Standards Solutions, The Definitive Guide, and Professional CSS. Those are the tops of my CSS book list. Those guys did a great job with CSS Mastery, and I look forward to applying the stuff I’ve learned from it already.

  10. 10 Sean S

    I bought the book last week and haven’t gotten a chance to read beyond the introduction yet. Two things I’m moving to the top of my priority list:

    1. Read the rest.
    2. Enter the photo competition

  11. 11 Chris Palle

    Thanks for the review Nathan. I actually ordered it last week (with DOM Scripting), but apparently Amazon can’t ship it right away. If anyone goes for it there, be sure to look at the couple copies in “used.” You may have to shell out a few more bucks, but it’ll ship within a day or two.

  12. 12 Nathan Smith

    DOM Scripting is another very well-written book. It approaches things from the standpoint of a designer’s mentality, rather than a hardcore programmer. So, for the more visually oriented people out there (myself included), it was a great read. You can read the review I wrote awhile ago: DOM Scripting, Review.

  13. 13 Andy Budd

    Hey everyone,

    Thanks for all the great comments, I’m really glad you’re enjoying the book. It took a good nine long months to write, not to mention all the tight deadlines and sleepless nights, so I’m glad it was worth it in the end. Happy reading.

  14. 14 Kerwyn Wilson

    Great Review! I’m definitely going to get this book!

  15. 15 Adam Spooner


    Sometimes it can be very overwhelming trying to find a book that can fulfill its claims [especially with over 200 books on the market concerning CSS]. I can say this after diving into CSS Mastery – it’s a must have! Thanks for the excellent review Nathan! It’s clear, it’s concise, and it’s a great read! I highly recommend this book to add to your collection of desktop references on CSS…it may just be the only one on your desk. =)

    The Spoon.

  16. 16 Norm B

    Nathan, thanks for the review. I’ve also seen the review on the Dan Cederholm book, “Bulletproof Web Design”. Both books appear to be pretty good. If you had to pick one book over the other, either the “CSS Mastery” book or the “Bulletproof Web Design”, which one would you pick and why?


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