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A.3. Online Communities

One can read only so much before it comes time to join a discussion and ask some questions. There are two major venues for discussions about CSS, but each is concerned with a specific type of discussion -- so make sure you go to the right place.

A.3.1. comp.infosystems.www.authoring.stylesheets

This Usenet group, often abbreviated as ciwas (pronounced "see-wass"), is the gathering place for CSS authors. A number of experts in the field check this newsgroup regularly, this author among them, and all are there for one primary reason: to help new CSS authors over the hurdles that learning any new language will generate. The secondary reason is for the spirited debates that occasionally erupt over some aspect of CSS, or a browser's implementation thereof. Rather unusually for a newsgroup, the signal-to-noise ratio stayed fairly high for the last few years of the 1990s, and will with any luck continue in that vein. (bottom ) from the first(top ). Finally, if there is only onevalue given, then it's copied to all the others.

This simple mechanism allows authors to supply only as many values asnecessary, as shown here:

The only drawback to this ability is a small one, but you'rebound to run into it eventually. Suppose you want to set the top andleft margins for H1 elements to be 10 pixels, and


Anyone who wishes to be involved in discussing the future course of CSS, and to clearing up ambiguities in the specifications, should subscribe to this list. The members of the list are all, in one fashion or another, interested in making CSS better than it is already. Please note: www-style is not the place to ask for assistance with writing CSS. For help with CSS authoring problems, visit ciwas instead. Questions beginning with "How do I ... ?" are frowned upon by the regulars of www-style and are usually redirected to a more appropriate forum such as ciwas. On the other hand, questions that begin "Why can't I ... ?" or "Wouldn't it be cool if ... ?" are generally welcome, so long as they relate to some ability that appears to be missing from CSS.

Messages to www-style are only accepted if the sender is already subscribed to the list. In order to subscribe, send email to with the word subscribe in the subject of the message; to unsubscribe, send email to with the word unsubscribe in the subject of the message.

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Contrary to what some browser companies might have you believe, youare limited in the range of named colors available. For example,setting a color to "mother-of-pearl" isn't going towork, because it isn't a defined color. (Well, not yet, at anyrate.) Technically speaking, there are nodefined colors, but there are 16 colors that are suggested by thespecification and that all major browsers recognize:

As you can see, this property accepts any length value or a percentage. That's all. So if you want all H1 elements to have 10 pixels of padding on all sides, it's this easy, as the result shown in Figure 7-56 makes clear:

H1 {padding: 10px; background-color: silver;}
Figure 7-56

Figure 7-56. Padding applied to an H1 element

On the other hand, we might want H1 elements tothe padding are all part of an element's background. There aretwo ways to set the background color: thebackground-color and backgroundproperties.

6.1.1. Foreground Colors

Theeasiest way to set the foreground color of an element is with theproperty color.size, typically 12-point, so that the allowable  n values1 through 7 typically reference 8, 10, 12, 14, 18, 24 and 36 points respectively;"name" references a font name (Arial, Times New Roman or whatever);and "color" is an RGB hexadecimal triple or one of the 16 namedcolors. 

Then you can change font attributes for special pieces of text in-linewith FONT tags: 
<FONT SIZE="n" FACE="name" COLOR="color">... </FONT>

Be careful about specifying fonts in the <BASEFONT> or <FONT>