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The HTML Basics

 


Start with a title

Every HTML document needs a title. Here is what you need to type:

<title>My first HTML document</title>

Change the text from "My first HTML document" to suit your own needs. The title text is preceded by the start tag <title> and ends with the matching end tag </title>. The title should be placed at the beginning of your document.

Add headings and paragraphs

If you have used Microsoft Word, you will be familiar with the built in styles for headings of differing importance. In HTML there are six levels of headings. H1 is the most important, H2 is slightly less important, and so on down to H6, the least important.

Here is how to add an important heading:

<h1>An important heading</h1>

and here is a slightly less important heading:

<h2>A slightly less important heading</h2>

Each paragraph you write should start with a <p> tag. The </p> is optional, unlike the end tags for elements like headings. For example:

<p>This is the first paragraph.</p>
<p>This is the second paragraph.</p>

Adding a bit of emphasis

You can emphasize one or more words with the <em> tag, for instance:

This is a really <em>interesting</em> topic!

Adding interest to your pages with images

Images can be used to make your Web pages distinctive and greatly help to get your message across. The simple way to add an image is using the <img> tag. Let's assume you have an image file called "peter.jpg" in the same folder/directory as your HTML file. It is 200 pixels wide by 150 pixels high.

<img src="peter.jpg" width="200" height="150">

The src attribute names the image file. The width and height aren't strictly necessary but help to speed the display of your Web page. Something is still missing! People who can't see the image need a description they can read in its absence. You can add a short description as follows:

<img src="peter.jpg" width="200" height="150"
alt="My friend Peter">

The alt attribute is used to give the short description, in this case "My friend Peter". For complex images, you may need to also give a longer description. Assuming this has been written in the file "peter.html", you can add one as follows using the longdesc attribute:

<img src="peter.jpg" width="200" height="150"
alt="My friend Peter" longdesc="peter.html">

You can create images in a number of ways, for instance with a digital camera, by scanning an image in, or creating one with a painting or drawing program. Most browsers understand GIF and JPEG image formats, newer browsers also understand the PNG image format. To avoid long delays while the image is downloaded over the network, you should avoid using large image files.

Generally speaking, JPEG is best for photographs and other smoothly varying images, while GIF and PNG are good for graphics art involving flat areas of color, lines and text. All three formats support options for progressive rendering where a crude version of the image is sent first and progressively refined.

Adding links to other pages

What makes the Web so effective is the ability to define links from one page to another, and to follow links at the click of a button. A single click can take you right across the world!

Links are defined with the <a> tag. Lets define a link to the page defined in the file "peter.html":

This a link to <a href="peter.html">Peter's page</a>.

The text between the <a> and the </a> is used as the caption for the link. It is common for the caption to be in blue underlined text.

To link to a page on another Web site you need to give the full Web address (commonly called a URL), for instance to link to www.w3.org you need to write:

This is a link to <a href="http://www.w3.org/">W3C</a>.

You can turn an image into a hypertext link, for example, the following allows you to click on the company logo to get to the home page:

<a href="/"><img src="logo.gif" alt="home page"></a>

Three kinds of lists

HTML supports three kinds of lists. The first kind is a bulletted list, often called an unordered list. It uses the <ul> and <li> tags, for instance:

<ul>
  <li>the first list item</li>

  <li>the second list item</li>

  <li>the third list item</li>
</ul>

Getting Further Information

W3C's Recommendation for HTML 4.0 is the authorative specification for HTML. However, it is a technical specification.

This tutorial article is Copyright © 1994-2001 W3C ® (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Institut National de Recherche en Informatique et en Automatique, Keio University), All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

 

 

 

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