Add CSS to an HTML document

CSS code displayed in a text editor

There are a number of ways to apply CSS to an HTML document but in this post we’ll look at one of the most commonly used methods – linking.

Create an HTML document

First off lets create a basic HTML document. This file will be called index.html. The filename extension .html indicates that this is an HTML file.

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
  <head>
    <meta charset="utf-8" />
    <title>How to add CSS to an HTML document</title>
  </head>

  <body>
    <h1>Learning CSS is fun!</h1>

    <p>
      This is a regular paragraph. We can add some text here that we can later
      style in our CSS.
    </p>

    <ul>
      <li>Step 1: Create an HTML document</li>
      <li>Step 2: Create a CSS style sheet</li>
      <li>Step 3: Link the CSS style sheet to the HTML document</li>
      <li>Step 4: Enjoy our <em>awesome</em>styles</li>
    </ul>
  </body>
</html>

If you were to load the index.html file into a browser it would look fairly plain at the moment. It would look something like this:

A picture of a plain HTML page containing a heading, a paragraph and a list.

Create a CSS style sheet

Let’s create a CSS document and add some basic styles. In the same folder we created the index.html we will now create a file called styles.css.

Once that’s been created we can open the styles.css file and add the following styles.

body {
  background-color: #ff9f1c;
}

h1 {
  font-size: 5vw;
}

ul {
  list-style: none;
}

Add the CSS to the HTML document

Now that we have a couple of basic styles we can apply these to out index.html document.

In the <head> of the index.html document add the following line of code.

<link rel="stylesheet" href="styles.css" />

The <link> element allows us to link external resources like stylesheets to our documents. If we now load the index.html document into a browser you should see that our basic styles have been applied.

It should look something like this:

An HTML page with basic CSS styling applied. Bright orange background

If you’ve been following along on your own computer and your styles haven’t been applied after you added the <link> element to the HTML document double check that there are no typos. Also make sure that your CSS document and your HTML document are in the same folder.

Wrap up

In this post you saw how you can link a CSS document to an HTML document using the <link> element and applied some basic styles. This isn’t the only way to apply styles to an HTML file but it is a very common approach that you’re sure to see in many projects.

Make sure to check out the MDN article on the link element for more information. And have a look my other CSS articles for more tips and tricks.

Published
Categorized as CSS