The World Wide Web Consortium Issues CSS2 as a W3C Recommendation

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+81 466.49.1170 -- 12 May, 1998 -- Leading the Web to its full potential, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has today released the CSS2 (Cascading Style Sheets, level 2) specification as a W3C Recommendation. The CSS2 specification represents a cross-industry agreement on a wide range of features for richer and more accessible Web pages. CSS2 builds upon W3C's earlier Recommendation for CSS1, adding many new features while remaining fully backwards compatible. A W3C Recommendation indicates that a specification is stable, contributes to Web interoperability, and has been reviewed by the W3C Membership, who are in favor of its adoption by the industry.

The CSS2 specification was written and developed by the W3C Cascading Style Sheets and Formatting Properties (CSS&FP) Working Group, which includes key industry players such as Adobe Systems, Bitstream, Electricité de France, Hewlett Packard, IBM, Lotus, Macromedia, Microsoft, Netscape, NIST, Novell, Silicon Graphics, and SoftQuad; content specialists and invited experts in the fields of typography, accessibility, and internationalization; and document publishing input from Apple, Hotwired, the Productivity Works, and Studio Verso. CSS2 has also benefited from detailed review by the style sheet-using and content-creation communities, through public mailing lists.

"Today's release of the CSS2 specification demonstrates the effectiveness of the W3C process and is the culmination of more than a year's work," said Chris Lilley, chair of the CSS&FP Working Group. "CSS2 lets Web designers create compelling documents, dynamic and design-rich, that also enhance accessibility and contribute to internationalization."

Key Benefits

CSS2 has powerful design capability

In the past, designers have achieved amazing results with HTML alone, for instance, by using tables to simulate margins and transparent images to gain some control over whitespace. Often, this had the unfortunate effect of locking the content into fixed assumptions of window width and font size. CSS1 allows designers to produce the same effects more easily and simply, with finer control and flexibility in areas such as line spacing and justification.

CSS2 includes all the capabilities of CSS1 and adds improved typographic control, including dynamically downloadable fonts. There are new positioning properties to control layout; for example, to produce sidebars and navigation areas. Images and text can be layered and overlapped and can be dynamically moved around the screen with scripts. CSS2 also adds control over table layout, particularly useful for XML documents, and allows the automatic numbering of headings and lists.

"CSS2 will take Web design to new places," said Håkon Lie, W3C Style Sheets Activity Leader who, in 1994, first proposed the concept of Cascading Style Sheets. "CSS1 did a fine job of replicating HTML extensions through style sheets. CSS2 does more than just capture existing practice: it greatly expands the Web designer's palette."

CSS2 makes the Web faster

On the Web today, it's common to create images of text in order to control fonts and colors. Images are much bigger than text, and the perceived slowness of the Web can, in part, be attributed to this practice. Web pages also commonly contain large numbers of repeated presentational markup, which makes the pages unnecessarily large. CSS2 allows authors to express the same rich styles, but is compact and text-based. Pages that use CSS2 have been shown to be significantly smaller and to load much faster than comparable image-based pages.

CSS2 enables cross-media publishing

The W3C Recommendation for CSS2 comes at a time when the same Web content needs to be accessible and compelling on an increasingly broad range of devices, from smart televisions to cellular phones, and from in-car systems to distributed print bureaus. Content creators can no longer afford to have their work limited by fixed assumptions about the display. CSS2 provides solutions for cross-media publishing and graceful repurposing of information.

CSS2 provides built-in accessibility

A side effect of reliance on tables for layout and images of text for typography has been a reduction in accessibility of Web pages for people surfing with image downloads turned off and for visually impaired users browsing with screen readers. Moving toward CSS removes presentational clutter from documents, automatically increasing accessibility without compromising visual design, and removes the necessity for hard-to-maintain separate "text-only" pages.

"The advanced presentation capabilities offered by CSS2 provide page designers full creative control without sacrificing accessibility for Web users who have disabilities," said Judy Brewer, Director of W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative International Program Office. "In particular, CSS2 introduces improved user control for layout, cascade priorities, support for varied media types, and aural cascading style sheets to control voice inflection."

CSS2 aids internationalization

There is an increasing need for the effective presentation of Web pages in languages other than English, and for presentation of documents in multiple languages. Matters such as writing direction, font styles, and quoting conventions differ from one written language to another. CSS2 makes significant steps toward being able to display multilingual documents well.

CSS2 works well with XML

To date, CSS1 primarily has been applied to HTML documents, although it has also been used with content written in XML. CSS2 adds features specifically targeted at displaying XML documents since these have no built-in semantics or presentational features; style sheets are thus essential for the deployment of XML content.

Further information on CSS can be found at

About the World Wide Web Consortium [W3C]

The W3C was created to lead the Web to its full potential by developing common protocols that promote its evolution and ensure its interoperability. It is an international industry consortium jointly run by the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science (LCS) in the USA, the National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control (INRIA) in France and Keio University in Japan. Services provided by the Consortium include: a repository of information about the World Wide Web for developers and users; reference code implementations to embody and promote standards; and various prototype and sample applications to demonstrate use of new technology. To date, more than 255 organizations are Members of the Consortium.

For more information about the World Wide Web Consortium, see

$Date: 1998/05/12 22:18:49 $