Introduction to HTML
Introduction to this tutorial: You do not need an HTML editor to complete this tutorial. All lessons are designed to be completed using Notepad, which comes with all Windows PCs or an equivalent simple text editor (Mac users, try TextEdit). The reason we are using a simple text editor is that HTML is simple ASCII (plain) text, and editors like Notepad only save files as plain text. You can use any web browser for previewing your HTML pages. If you follow along with this tutorial, you'll be typing all the tags yourselves, as there is NO better way to learn HTML! And that, as they say, is that.
You will be building a page as you go through this tutorial. The content of my sample page is oriented toward a library, but don't let that discourage you! Feel free to change and adapt your page's text to better reflect your needs.
A little lingo before we start: There will be very little "techie" talk in this tutorial. One thing you'll learn very quickly is that this isn't rocket science! But it will help to know the following terms:
- HTML (HyperText Markup Language): This is the programming language, or code, that provides the skeleton on which web pages hang.
- Tags: HTML tags are what the web browsers need to see to display a web page correctly. As you proceed through the tutorial, you will hear this term used frequently.
- Attribute: A characteristic of a tag that makes it do something special. Attributes contain values that tell the browser exactly what sort of attribute you are using.
If you want to learn more terminology, check out the Web Glossary from Case Western University.
Also, check out our Webiography page.
A Little Background:
HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language. It is the basic programming language that is used on the web. HTML programming code uses tags to make web browsers see a web page correctly. Think of the human body: when we look at people we see skin, hair, arms, and legs. Underneath is the skeleton that holds us together and makes arms look like arms and legs look like legs. The web page we see in a browser is like the body, nicely laid out and pleasing to the eye. Underneath the web page is the skeleton -- the HTML tags -- holding it all together and making it look right.
Believe it or not, HTML is less than 20 years old (see: About the World Wide Web for more on the web's history) and it is constantly evolving as new versions of web browsers add new HTML tags. In fact now there are new programming languages like XML and XHTML that extend the power of basic HTML. For more on these developements, see: http://www.w3.org/MarkUp/. We will cover only basic HTML tags that work with all browsers in this tutorial.
First up: Basic HTML Tags