The Basics: HTML

Published 24/05/2004 18:29   |    Updated 08/05/2008 17:42
What exactly is HTML?

HTML stands for Hypertext Mark-up Language, but a less complicated way of thinking about it is as the thing that tells the web browser (Internet Explorer or Firefox for example) how to display your web page.


HTML is also used to insert graphic files and to instruct the browser on how those graphics should interact with the surrounding text. Perhaps most crucially of all, HTML is what makes it possible to link text or graphics to other HTML files.


Easily created using basic text editing software such as Microsoft Notepad (or SimpleText on the Mac), HTML (webpage) files are text files that also contain 'mark-up tags'. Simply put, the text itself tells the browser what to display, the tags tell the browser how to display it.


Here's an example of tagged text for a web page:


<title>BT Ireland</title>


In this basic HTML instruction, ''BT Ireland is the main title for the web page. So BT Ireland is the text that needs to be displayed, and the either side of it are tags telling the browser that it's the page's title.


Inside Knowledge

Most (but not all) HTML tags must open (as in <title>) and then close (as with </title>) in order to work properly.


Sound obvious? It is, but things do get a little more complicated as more tags and instructions are added.


Different tags determine different factors. Using <b> and </b> either side of a piece of text, for example, tells the browser that the text should be displayed in bold. <u> and </u> mean that it should be underlined, and so on.


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