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About HTML

A Scripting Language

HTML Quick Reference (PDF)

HTML is a scripting language used to create web pages. In the early days of the world wide web, the only way to create a web page was to write out the HTML code yourself. Today, there are programs called "web editors" that will create the code for you. It is still a good idea, however, to have some understanding of how HTML works.

HTML is a language. The pages that you write in HTML are programs. The computer moves through the HTML code, line by line, and does whatever the code tells it to. If the code says to display an image, the computer finds the image and displays it at that specific point in the page.

Tags

HTML commands are enclosed in little brackets called "tags." (You will often hear people referring to "html tags.") Each tag has a specific purpose. Some tags make text bold. Others change the color, align the image in a certain way or set the color of the background. Whatever a tag does, it will include a beginning tag and an end tag. (There are a couple of exceptions to that rule.) The end tags have a slash in them. Anything that is in between the beginning and ending tag will be affected by the command issued by that tag. For example, to make text bold you would write:

<bold> This is my bold text </bold>

When you write HTML code, you have to begin by telling the computer what language you are using. So, all html pages begin with the <html> tag:

<html> My Web Page </html>

Web pages are usually split into sections. The Head contains information that may or may not show up on the screen. It includes things like page titles, keywords for web searches and code that redirects the viewer to a new page. The part of a web page that you actually see when you look at the page on the web is the body. The next set of tags that your page has to have are head and body tags:

<html>
<head>
</head>

<body> My Web Page </body>
</html>

Whatever is between the body tags will visible on the web.

Software

Fortunately, you don't have to know HTML to create a web page. There are several software packages available that will generate the HTML for you. For more information on the web editing packages available, go to the How Do You Make A Web Page section. As you build your page, you may notice that certain things don't appear exactly the way you want them to. In many cases, the problem is that somewhere in your page, an html tag has gone astray. If you understand the basics of how html works, it will be much easier for you to find the errant tag and fix it.