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Cascading Style Sheets: The Definitive Guide by Eric A. Meyer

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Chapter 3. Units and Values

In this chapter, we study the basis for almost everything that can be done in CSS: the units that affect the color used or the distance set for a whole host of properties. Without units, it wouldn’t be possible to declare that a paragraph should be purple, or that an image should have ten pixels of blank space around it, or that a heading should be a certain size. By understanding the concepts put forth here, you’ll be able to learn and use the rest of CSS much more quickly.

However, that’s the good news. The bad news is that this chapter will contain a good many caveats, warnings, and discussions of browser bugs and inconsistencies between operating systems. Remember, though, that CSS is not supposed to be a totally precise layout language—and besides, many of the issues discussed in the chapter are not the fault of CSS but are more fundamental issues that you’ll encounter no matter what you try to do with a computer. So, once you’ve finished this chapter, you will have a grasp not only of how CSS units work, but perhaps also of a few basic issues that you previously were unaware of.

Above all, though, regardless of how bleak things may seem, keep going! Your perseverance will be rewarded.

Colors

Of course, the one thing that almost every beginning web author wants to know is, “How do I set colors on my web page?” Under HTML, there were two choices: use one of a small number of colors with names, like red or purple, or employ a vaguely cryptic method using ...

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