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HTML Code MiniChapter 1: The Basics

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I was talking with a friend last month because she was very interested in launching her first blog in her spare time, and she knew I was very experienced and ran a successful web site. (Dave's Site, that you're on right now, is visited by almost one-half million people a year!)

I explained to her that her best bet was probably iPage Hosting or because they offer a highly-secure server for under $10 a month and they have easy, automatic blog installations. (Legal Disclosure: I'm a paying customer of iPage and they are a paying sponsor of this site.)

iPage offers web hosting packages with a free domain name, which is the most important part of launching a web site or blog. A domain name, for those of you unfamiliar with our geek lingo, is the dot something name. For example, davesite.com is a domain name. Most .com names are taken, so now people are launching their new sites with other endings, like .co, .org, .biz, or .info. You have a lot more options now than I did fifteen years ago!

I encourage you to take a break during the tutorial and learn about iPage Hosting. Just imagine, you could have your own site or blog that could get lots of visitors someday just like mine. We all start with a few visitors a day, but with some work, a web site can grow to be something huge. Your first step is committing a few bucks to ordering a host with your own domain name.

The Introduction Chapter, which most of you just read, covers the basics of starting your site, and MiniChapter 10 covers how to get your site up on your host after you're done with your HTML coding.

Good luck, happy coding, and start imagining the possibilities of your own little piece of the Internet.

HTML Tags...

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The page you are viewing right now is an HTML document. HTML documents look a lot like a Word, WordPerfect, or OpenOffice document...

You can have bold and italicized, Larger and Smaller, or it could look type-written.

Of course, the HTML code for this looks like a bunch of gibberish...

You can have <b>bold</b> and <i>italicized</i>, <font size="+2">Larger</font> and <font size="-2">Smaller</font>, or it could look <tt>type-written</tt>.

So what are all these "<" and ">" things doing here? When you place a certain thing within these you are making something known as a tag. For example the <b> tag is saying to start bold text, and the </b> tag is saying to stop bold text. The tag with the slash (/) is known as the closing tag. Many opening tags require a following closing tag, but not all do. Tags make up the entire structure of an HTML document.

This Text is Bold has the code:

<b>This Text is Bold</b>
^^^--Opening Tag ^^^^--Closing Tag

Here are two pieces of HTML code, the second of the two has an error in it, what is it?

#1 - Bob jumped OVER the fence.
#1 - Bob jumped <b>OVER</b> the fence.
#2 - Bob jumped UNDER the fence.
#2 - Bob jumped <b>UNDER<b> the fence.

You should have noticed that the second code is missing a slash (/) in the tag after the word UNDER, which causes the web browser to interpret the code as leaving the bold face on! This is a common error, so be careful of it!

Note: Tags in HTML are NOT case sensitive. For example... <title> and <TitLE> both mean the same thing and are interpreted as being the same. That said, it aids in the speed of page loads to use lowercase tags, so it is -highly suggested- that you keep all tags lowercase, that is, it is better to use <title> than <tItLe> even though both work. (A variation of HTML called XHTML requires lowercase tags.)

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HTML Document Structure...

HTML files are just normal text files... they usually have the extension of .htm, .html, or .shtml. HTML documents have two (2) parts, the head and the body. The body is the larger part of the document, as the body of a letter you would write to a friend would be. The head of the document contains the document's title and similar information, and the body contains most everything else. Example of basic HTML document Structure...

<head><title>Title goes here</title></head>
<body>Body goes here</body>

You may find it easier to read if you add extra blank lines such as follows...


<title>Title goes here</title>

Body goes here


Note: Extra spaces and blank lines (line breaks) will be ignored when the HTML is loaded by the web browser... so add them if you wish to do so.

Example of how titles are viewed...

Whatever falls between the <title> tags will be the title of the web page. In the web browser, the title usually shows at the top left of the web browser window, as pictured below.

The title code reading:

<title>HTML Code: MiniChapter 1: The Basics</title>

Shows as:

The title of this web page, in four web browsers: (1) Mozilla Firefox, (2) Microsoft Internet Explorer, (3) Google Chrome, and (4) Apple Safari.


You didn't have to program any special code to get the browser to put the title on the right place... you just used standard HTML and the web browser figures out the rest. Welcome to web design!

[ Note: You cannot use other tags between the <title> tags.
Example: You cannot have the code read: <title><b>title goes here</b></title>. ]

Whatever you place between the <body> tags will fall into the main area of the web page window (the huge part of the window you're scrolling through right now) and therefore it is the largest part of your HTML document.

The next few chapters will go into detail into ways you can add to the body of the web page. But for now, try out what you just learned!

HTML Code - Try it Yourself!

In the Box below, type the following HTML code, then click "Check it Out!" The HTML document you made will be displayed in your browser. You may wish to change the words within the tags just to try it out.

Try typing this:

<head><title>Title goes here</title></head>
<body>Body goes here</body>

Note: Feel free to use COPY and PASTE if you feel comfortable with the code
and don't want to type it all yourself in any chapter.

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