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In this article, I’ve listed several common misuses of the CSS technology. While it’s hard to recover from past mistakes (I still have to deal with ugly solutions I implemented years ago), you should keep the following recommendations in mind when designing your next web site:

  • All the formatting should be done with CSS. Do not use HTML tags to achieve formatting effects. Do not use HTML tables for layout purposes. Do not use format-related HTML attributes.
  • Avoid HTML-embedded CSS formatting at all costs. It’s always better to define an extra class that will probably come handy at a later time (exceptions rarely happen only once).
  • When multiple classes share the same formatting, define the common formatting only once, listing multiple classes in the selector part of the rule.
  • You can use more than one class per HTML element. Use this functionality to reduce the number of classes you need or their complexity.
  • Use hierarchical selectors to reduce the number of CSS classes (this will also reduce the size of your HTML markup).
  • Store the CSS rules in external style sheets. Structure the style sheets hierarchically and import common style sheets into more specific ones.
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