HTML is a fundamental building block of the Web, and familiarity with HTML a must-have skill for any aspiring web developer. And we’re talking a lot more than simply structuring documents, as there’s no limit to the amount of interactivity you can create with APIs in HTML5.
We’ve rounded up the best HTML books for beginners and advanced coders. Get ready to dive into the language of the Web! 🤓
- What Is HTML? A Short Explanation
- How to Choose the Best HTML Books?
- Best HTML Books for Beginners
- Best HTML Books for Children
- Best Intermediate and Advanced HTML Books
- Extra: Cheat Sheets!
- Extra: The SitePoint Library
What Is HTML? A Short Explanation
HTML stands for “HyperText Markup Language”. It’s a language for describing web pages using plain text.
HTML is the primary language used to create web pages, and it’s a very easy language to learn. It’s easy to read and understand, and it’s also easy to write. HTML is the only language that web browsers can understand and use to create web pages.
HTML is used to create the structure of a web page, including forms, embedding of videos and images, and creating links to other web pages.
HTML is an essential language for web developers to learn, as it’s used to create the structure of web pages. If you’re looking to get started in web development, a great place to start is learning HTML.
Note: you can explore a wide variety of HTML topics through the HTML articles on SitePoint. And if you’re stuck on an HTML issue, our friendly forum experts will help you get it sorted in no time.
How to Choose the Best HTML Books?
HTML might be easy to learn, but as the foundation of the Web, it’s also a vast and ever-evolving technology.
Here are some things to consider when picking an HTML book:
- How well is the content explained?
- Do you find the writing style compelling?
- Is there an emphasis on coding best practices?
- Does it cover topics like accessibility, SEO, and more?
- Do you want to be a web designer or a developer of web applications?
Best HTML Books for Beginners
Let’s first look at books for HTML beginners.
HTML5 Pocket Reference: Quick, Comprehensive, Indispensable
- Author: Jennifer Robbins (profile)
- Publishing: fifth edition (September 10, 2013)
- Paperback: 182 pages
- Ranking on Amazon: 4.6/5 (221 ratings)
With over 30 years of experience, best-selling author Jennifer Robbins is one of the first professional designers of the Web, and the co-founder of the Artifact Conference for web designers and developers.
In HTML5 Pocket Reference she presents an alphabetical listing of every HTML element and attribute, markup examples, notes indicating the differences between HTML5 and HTML 4.01, and an overview of HTML5 APIs. Not bad for one of the shortest books in this list!
The HTML5 Pocket Reference is part of O’Reilly’s Pocket Reference series of over 34 books, and this fifth edition includes updates regarding the HTML5.1 Working Draft, and the WHATWG standards.
HTML in Easy Steps: An Indispensable Guide for HTML Newbies!
- Author: Mike McGrath (profile)
- Publishing: ninth edition (June 24, 2020)
- Paperback: 192 pages
- Ranking on Amazon: 4.8/5 (35 ratings)
Prolific author Mike McGrath covers all of the basics of HTML in this extremely fun, concise, and accessible book that’s on its ninth edition, and counting! 👏
Why do I say HTML in Easy Steps — the highest rated book in this list — is fun?
- it’s written in plain English
- it’s easy to follow
- it’s fully illustrated
- it’s in full color
You can get a taste of the book’s layout in an online sample.
HTML5: Up and Running: Dive into the Future of Web Development
- Author: Mark Pilgrim (profile)
- Publishing: first edition (September 7, 2010)
- Paperback: 222 pages
- Ranking on Amazon: 3.9/5 (111 ratings)
Mark Pilgrim is a developer advocate, a former Google employee, and an author who wrote the acclaimed Dive into HTML5, which is a free online book.
Part of O’Reilly’s Up and Running series, HTML5: Up and Running is essentially the printed version of Dive into HTML5, which also happens to be a relatively short read.
It must be noted that HTML5: Up and Running has some lower ratings, partly because it’s a bit outdated — the author having abandoned the project some time ago. That said, you can still check out the online version first before you decide whether or not it’s your cup of tea.
Best HTML Books for Children
Let’s now look at some books that are particularly appropriate for children who want to learn HTML.
HTML for Babies
- Publishing: independent (July 19, 2016)
- Paperback: 16 pages
- Ranking on Amazon: 3.9/5 (158 ratings)
A unique offering from Union Square & Co., HTML for Babies is a board book that introduces the fundamentals of HTML to youngsters while making extensive use of colors and huge fonts to overemphasize HTML syntax.
And while 16 pages surely is too short for adults (many of the bad reviews are about that), for babies and toddlers it may be just right.
If this sounds like a book you might be interested in, check out the other offerings in this five-book Code Babies series.
- Publisher: Young Rewired State
- Publishing: first edition (August 1, 2017)
- Paperback: 208 pages
- Ranking on Amazon: 4.6/5 (2,672 ratings)
Get Coding! is a series of two books for children between nine and 12 years old, written by the Young Rewired State, a non-profit that helps young people to become digital makers.
Young Rewired State’s YouTube channel also has plenty of videos that serve a companion content to the book.
Let’s now look at some books for intermediate to advanced users of HTML.
HTML5 for Masterminds: How to Take Advantage of HTML5 to Create Responsive Websites and Revolutionary Applications
- Author: J.D Gauchat (profile)
- Publishing: third edition (February 9, 2017)
- Paperback: 624 pages
- Ranking on Amazon: 4.5/5 (98 ratings)
J.D Gauchat is a writer, programmer and entrepreneur, and his books are popular among web developers and tech professionals.
In HTML5 for Masterminds, he covers HTML5 in depth and provides step-by-step instructions on how to create responsive websites and applications with HTML5.
Besides all the fundamentals, the book covers a number of modern Web APIs, such as:
- Canvas API
- Drag and Drop API
- File API
- Fullscreen API
- Geolocation API
- History API
- IndexedDB API
… and many more
HTML5 for Masterminds is part of the four-book series For Masterminds, and it’s one of the longest books in this list.
Web Development & Design Foundations with HTML5
- Author: Terry Felke-Morris (profile)
- Publishing: ninth edition (February 2, 2018)
- Paperback: 720 pages
- Ranking on Amazon: 4.5/5 (287 ratings)
Terry Felke-Morris is a college professor emerita of web design and development, the author of multiple web development books, and the author of this comprehensive book on web development and design.
The book is also the largest HTML book in our list, and in its ninth edition (wow! 👏). It also includes updates on HTML5.1 and HTML5.2. It’s a best seller, standing at #2 in XHTML, and you can safely consider it an indispensable guide for web development and design newbies.
HTML and CSS QuickStart Guide: The Simplified Beginner’s Guide to Developing a Strong Coding Foundation, Building Responsive Websites, and Mastering the Fundamentals of Modern Web Design
- Author: David DuRocher
- Publishing: first edition (January 22, 2021)
- Paperback: 359 pages
- Ranking on Amazon: 4.5/5 (440 ratings)
Web design instructor David DuRocher presents a comprehensive yet simplified guide in HTML and CSS QuickStart Guide.
As described on the back cover, you’ll learn the following:
- Modern web design fundamentals, how to use the powerful combination of HTML5 and CSS3
- Site structure and responsive design principles, how to format HTML and CSS for all devices
- How to incorporate forms, multimedia elements, and captivating animations into your projects
- How to effectively produce HTML documents using industry-standard tools such as GitHub
- HTML and CSS elements, formatting, padding, gradients, menus, testing, debugging, and more
HTML and CSS QuickStart Guide is a best seller #4 in XHTML and #9 in CSS. It’s labeled as “Great on Kindle” (a distinction very few technical books get), and it even has an audiobook version!
HTML & CSS: Design and Build Websites
- Author: Jon Duckett (profile)
- Publishing: first edition (November 8, 2011)
- Paperback: 490 pages
- Ranking on Amazon: 4.7/5 (4,260 ratings)
Jon Duckett is a well-known author of books about web design and programming. His book HTML & CSS: Design and Build Websites is the most rated HTML/CSS books in this list by quite a margin, and also one of the best rated.
This book is over ten years old, and yet its content is still relevant today. It’s also beautifully designed, with full-color illustrations and screen captures. (See a sample chapter.)
It’s a #1 best seller in CSS, #2 in Web Design, and #2 in Computer Programming, and has a companion website with code samples for every chapter, and plenty of extras.
Murach’s HTML5 and CSS3: Training & Reference
- Authors: Anne Boehm (profile) and Zak Ruvalcaba (profile)
- Publishing: fifth edition (December 14, 2021)
- Paperback: 602 pages
- Ranking on Amazon: 4.7/5 (40 ratings)
The Murach’s series is well known for its lengthy and well written books for learning programming and software development, and Murach’s HTML5 and CSS3 is no exception.
With one of the highest ratings on this list, this fifth-edition book is a best seller #9 in CSS. It’s an update to the fourth edition, which has over 400 ratings.
Aside from reference aids, the main sections include:
- the essential concepts and skills
- responsive web design
- more HTML and CSS skills as you need them
Zak also has a few courses on Udemy that you might find useful.
Part of the Sams Teach Yourself series — which boasts over 200 books — this third edition includes recent updates to the HTML5 and CSS3 standards.
HTML5 and CSS3: All-in-One for Dummies: 8 Books in 1
- Author: Andy Harris
- Publishing: third edition (January 7, 2014)
- Paperback: 1,104 pages
- Ranking on Amazon: 4.6/5 (501 ratings)
In HTML5 and CSS3: All-in-One for Dummies, bestselling author Andy Harris covers a lot of ground in web development. As is typical of the For Dummies series, the subject is presented in a very approachable and down-to-earth manner.
Here’s a list of eight “books” contained in this #5 best seller in XHTML:
- Creating the HTML foundation
- Styling with CSS
- Building layout with CSS
- Server-side programming with PHP
- Managing data with MySQL
- Integrating the client and server with Ajax
- Moving from pages to sites
By the way, Andy also has a handful of courses on Udemy.
Web Design Playground: HTML + CSS the Interactive Way
- Author: Paul McFedries (profile)
- Publishing: first edition (May 19, 2019)
- Paperback: 440 pages
- Ranking on Amazon: 4.6/5 (114 ratings)
Paul McFedries is an author, serial technical writer, and trainer who specializes in Windows, web development, and programming. His books have sold over four million copies, and he has written over 90 titles for Microsoft Press, Wiley, and other publishers.
In Web Design Playground, Paul McFedries takes the reader on a journey into HTML and CSS, and the book is full of interactive exercises and full-color illustrations to help the reader learn — covering basics like creating web pages, to more advanced topics like styling with CSS and deploying web pages.
Responsive Web Design with HTML 5 & CSS
- Author: Jessica Minnick
- Publishing: ninth edition (February 6, 2020)
- Paperback: 640 pages
- Ranking on Amazon: 4.6/5 (24 ratings)
In Responsive Web Design with HTML 5 & CSS, author Jessica Minnick (an IT instructor at Pasco-Hernando State College in New Port Richey, Florida) makes a thorough review of responsive web design best practices, as well as covering HTML5 and CSS3, thus providing a comprehensive introduction to web development.
This is one of the books in the Shelly Cashman series, and it’s on its ninth edition! It’s also the #6 best seller in CSS category on Amazon. So it’s a pretty safe bet.
- Author: Jennifer Robbins (profile)
- Publishing: fifth edition (June 19, 2018)
- Paperback: 808 pages
- Ranking on Amazon: 4.6/5 (597 ratings)
New in the fifth edition:
- Flexbox and Grid layout for sophisticated and flexible page layout
- responsive web design to make web pages work great on all screen sizes
- an introduction to the command line, Git, and other modern web developer tools
- a new chapter on SVG and how to use it in responsive layouts
The companion website includes exercise materials for working along with the book, supplemental articles for further reading, links with resources listed on the book, and even instructor support!
If you want to look for a quick reference guide that covers the very basics of HTML5 in the most concise way, the HTML5 Pamphlet, by BarCharts, is the most rated resource in this list (4.6/5, 375 ratings).
Part of the Quick Study Computer series (which offers over 60 charts), this fold-out guide provides an overview of HTML5, including the major elements, attributes, and the newest HTML5 features. It also provides brief yet accurate context for the HTML5 document structure.
SitePoint Premium gives you access to the SitePoint Library, with a whole section dedicated to HTML and CSS books and courses, including HTML5 & CSS3 for the Real World: second Edition, by Alexis Goldstein, Louis Lazaris, and Estelle Weyl.
There’s also the following series by Jens Oliver Meiert:
As the building block of the modern Web, it’s important to understand HTML’s syntax and how it works in order to create the best possible user experience. With the basics of HTML under your belt, you can start to create web pages, and then go on to build upon that foundation with other technologies.
Hopefully this list of HTML books will help you to get started, and help you along the road to your design and developing goals. 💻🕸