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HTML Basics

HTML Basics

For those of you who want to code your own website, this site includes some HTML basics. Keep in mind that HTML is a slow and somewhat cumbersome way to make a website. These days there are much better tools that enable you to create a website with nary even a hint of HTML knowledge. Even experienced web developers gravitate toward such tools because they make web maintenance faster and easier, and yield the same results.

Many of these tools can be had at a reasonable cost. This site is built using the Mainspring Content Management System, for example.

What is HTML and how does HTML work?

HTML stands for Hyper Text Markup Language. It's basically a set of instructions that tell your browser how to display information on the screen, like bold or underline.

Your web browser is a lot like a printer (The browser is the thing you view the Internet with - Internet Explorer, Firefox, Etc.). When you go online and visit a web address, it sends a document to your browser. That document includes instructions, telling the browser how the page should look when it comes up on the screen. The browser looks at the instructions in the document and says something like "Let's see background, put a picture here..print the words here...make this text bold..." and dutifully constructs the web page according to the instructions. Except it does it Really Fast.

That's what HTML is. It's a set of instructions that tell a browser how to display your text.

What are HTML Tags?

HTML is comprised of a whole library of "tags." Think of a tag as a note to the browser, telling it how to display something on the screen. For example, if you want a browser to format some text as bold, you need to tag the appropriate text as bold, like so:

Hello, <b>this text is bold </b> and the tags let the browser know it.

The browser sees this tag, follows the instructions and prints this on the screen

Hello, this text is bold and the tags let the browser know it.

NOTE: Your browser will not display the tags, it will just follow the instructions on the tags.

How to use HTML Tags

In the example above, you'll notice that the HTML tag has two parts:

An opening part <b>
And a closing part </b>

This tells the browser when to start formatting a certain way, and when to end. As a general rule, all tags have two parts like this.

Hello, <b>this text is bold </b> and the tags let the browser know it.

Notice that the second tag has the / in there. That means "THIS TAG ENDS."