An acronym for Cascading Style Sheet, CSS is a standard developed for determining the appearance of text and other elements on a web page.
A single CSS file can be created that specifies how elements should appear; for instance, body text in a 12 point Arial font. This style can then be applied to all the pages on a site. To change the font across the entire site, only the CSS file has to be modified.
Using CSS allows you to separate design from content. Imagine if you had to consider appearance every time you added a new post to your blog. Doing so would take much longer, and probably result in fewer blog posts. Thankfully, when you make a blog post, all you have to worry about it creating good content—the page will always look the same. CSS allows you to do the same for your entire website.
Frequently Asked Questions
How does CSS work?
CSS allows you to set rules for certain aspects of your page design. In your CSS file, you create rules for different elements of a page. For instance, you can create rules for text, and then define styles for various types of text used on your site, such as headers and body text. Corresponding text throughout your site will utilize the font described in your CSS file, unless directed to use something else within the page itself. In your CSS file, you can define everything from fonts, page colors, text positioning, box properties, the appearance of lists, and more.
Can’t I just add style elements to each page?
You can, but it will make updating your website a lot harder. You can build a template that includes all of your style elements, and then use that template to build every page on your website. Doing so should give you the same results as using CSS. The problem is, if you ever decide to change your site’s appearance—which you should, because websites get dated very quickly—you will have to update that code on every single page. With CSS, you only have to update it on one page. Plus, there’s always that chance something will get left out or erased, and suddenly, one page on your website looks different from all the rest. CSS prevents that.
I built my site using WordPress. Can I still use CSS?
Absolutely. CSS can be used to make changes to the appearance of any WordPress site, whether built from scratch or created using a template. The same goes for most other website creation utilities. Applying custom CSS allows site owners to further customize a page beyond the limited customization options available through their theme. Just be careful. Personalizing the site too much with CSS will make it more difficult to upgrade your site to a new theme in the future.