Get started creating web pages using text files and HTML code! This article is a continuation of HTML Explained: Part 1, which gives a general overview of HTML. Here, we're going to get into the nitty gritty of the code itself. Once you see how simple it really is, you should RUN, not walk to the nearest bookstore and grab your own copy of a handy HTML manual. All right, let's begin.
In viewing the source of web pages, you may have noticed a lot of these things: < >. They're called HTML tags, and they're what the computer uses to interpret the HTML code.
NOTE: in this article I had to add spaces to all of my HTML tags so that I could display them without actually having them work. There are two HTML tricks to actually "shutting off" HTML tags, but neither of them function properly in this submission box.
The HTML tags shown here will display like so: < FAKE TAG > but in reality you're supposed to type them like so:
A friend of mine describes HTML tags as "on/off switches." An easy example which you may be well-familiar with, is the Bold command. To "turn on" Bold, type < B > (but with no spaces). All of the text that comes after the Bold tag, will then be Bolded. To "turn off" the bold characteristic, type < /B >. Any text that comes after the "bold off" tag will unbolded.
It's worth mentioning that in all cases, all text that falls between an "on" or "off" HTML tag will take on the characteristic of that tag descriptor. How much text can you put in between two HTML tags? As much or as little as you want. That means, you can use just a couple of HTML tags to design paragraphs and paragraphs of text.
What are some other HTML tags that web designers frequently use?
< I > and < /I > (for italics)
< U > and < /U > (for underline)
< BR > (to create a single line break).
In most but not all cases, if you activate an HTML tag by enclosing it in these: < >s, you must also deactivate it at some point, as in < I > and < /I > for italics shown above. An exception to this rule is < P >, or paragraph separator tags, and < BR > or line breaks.
Specifying Multiple Text Characteristics Within a Single HTML Tag
HTML tags work in different ways, depending on the aspect of the design they're controlling. As I mentioned above, you can control all elements of web design via HTML code-page separation, text formatting, image placement, design layout, and hyperlink insertion. For this reason, one HTML tag can include multiple variables. This sounds a lot trickier than it is.
For example, a tag with multiple variables enclosed all in one of these: < >, can be used to format text. An equals (=) sign is used to specify multiple characteristics within a single HTML tag. To tag a section of text for font specs, begin with:
< FONT FACE=
Using no spaces after the equals (=) sign, type your font name in quotes, as so: "arial". You can also specify the size and color here. In the same tag that says to close. Your font tag will now look like this:
< FONT FACE="arial" SIZE="2" > (but with no end spaces).
If you wanted to, you could also include a color for the text within that tag. The color is entered in the same way as the font face and size, and is named within its own set of quotation marks either in a basic name such as "black" or "red", or a 6-digit numerical code that begins with a number sign.
So, an HTML tag that designates a paragraph typed in Arial font at the 2nd smallest size of type, in the color black, would look like this:
< FONT FACE="arial SIZE="2" COLOR="black" >
All of the type that came after this HTML tag would take on the characteristics above. Once you wanted to "shut off" the font characteristics of that blurb of text, you would type the tag < /FONT >.
Using HTML Tags to Add Images to Your Web Page
Now suppose you wanted to add an image to your webpage. And let's assume the image was already located in the folder of your website where images are stored. In order to make the image appear in your NEW web page, you need:
1. the complete web address of your website (such as http://www.wordfeeder.com),
2. the folder (or subdirectory) on your server where images are kept, and
3. the file name of the image (ends in .jpg).
The HTML code used to "pick up" an image from a source is IMG SRC. As always, it belongs inside those handy bracket-things. So your tag would begin:
< IMG SRC=
Without typing any spaces before or after the = (equals) sign, you'd then paste the URL of where the image is located (as explained in examples 1, 2 and 3 above), and follow with the filename and .jpg ending. I'll illustrate this with an example from my own web collection of images:
< IMG SRC="http://www.wordfeeder.com/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderpictures/wordfeederlogox.jpg" >
By typing that HTML tag with the specific web address and folder information/filename within quotation marks, the computer knows the origin of the image, and will then "hyperlink it" into your web page.
If you're ever unsure of the filepath of an image you need, go to the webpage where it's located and then right-click the image. Under "properties", you'll find the complete URL path that must be typed in between the two quotation marks that fall inside your Image Source tag.
Note: you do not need to "shut off" an image tag.
You can also include multiple variables within a single image tag. For example, if you wanted to left-align the above image, you'd edit the above tag to look like this:
< IMG SRC="http://www.wordfeeder.com/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderpictures/wordfeederlogox.jpg" ALIGN=left >
Hyperlink Tags for Email and Website Addresses
Ever wonder how webmasters create live links? A live link might say something like, "Click here for more info!" and then when you click there, you're suddenly transported to a new web page. A live link is simply type covering a website address. Check it out:
< A HREF="http://wordfeeder.com" >Visit Wordfeeder for more info!< /A >
That's HTML code for "hyperlinked text". It looks weird, but think about it this way. The first part in that's enclosed in these: < >, is what turns on the "make the following words into a link that leads to the address I am typing here" function. The end tag, < /A > is what "shuts off" the "hypertext linking" feature and will then let you resume typing in normal, unlinked text.
As you can see, by typing a few simple HTML tags, you can create some pretty amazing things. This article is just the tip of the iceberg. I hope that the explanations and examples shown have at least provided a basic understanding of HTML for you. A great way to learn is by "studying" other people's web page code from the View>Source window. You practice by copying their HTML code into your own fake pages, and filling in the "meat" between their "on" and "off" tags with text and images that suit your own purposes. But be careful. If you paste HTML incorrectly, you can totally wreck and corrupt your document.
For folks who want to get into serious design, I highly recommend that you buy a comprehensive HTML guide. Once you get the hang of HTML, there's no telling what you can create!
Copyright 2005 Dina Giolitto. All rights reserved.
Dina Giolitto is a New-Jersey based Copywriting Consultant with nine years' industry experience. Her current focus is web content and web marketing for a multitude of products and services although the bulk of her experience lies in retail for big-name companies like Toys"R"Us. Visit http://www.wordfeeder.com for rates and samples.