A Very Simple Introduction to HTML (and Why You Need to Know About It)

By Ali Luke

If you’ve been around the blogging world for more than a few weeks, you’ve probably heard of “HTML”. You may even have glanced at a few bits of HTML code.

(I know some DBT readers are expert HTML, CSS and PHP coders – I’d love your best beginner-friendly tips in the comments, to help out our readers who are much newer to this.)

So what is HTML – and why might you need to know about it?

HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language. It’s a special language that tells web browsers (like Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and Opera) how to display different elements on a page.

HTML consists of tags that wrap around different areas of text. Here’s an example:

<strong>Here is a line of text in bold.</strong>

This produces:

Here is a line of text in bold.

The opening tag <strong> tells the browser to start putting the text in bold, and the closing tag </strong> tells it to stop.

Here’s another example:

<em>Here is a line of text in italics.</em>

This produces:

Here is a line of text in italics.

(Here, em stands for emphasis.)

If you want to see these tags:

1. Create a new post or page in WordPress. (You don’t need to publish it.)

2. Type some text then make it bold and/or italic:

bold-italic-text

3. Click the “Text” button on the visual editor to view the HTML code:

bold-italic-text-html

Why You Need to Understand (Some) HTML

Nowadays, there’s no need to code posts in HTML before adding them to WordPress, which a lot of bloggers did in the past.

And with plugins like Black Studio TinyMCE Widget you don’t even need to use HTML for your widgets.

However, it’s a big advantage to get comfortable with HTML code, just in case something goes a bit wrong with a post or page that you’re formatting.

Have you ever seen a post that ended up all in italics, for instance? This happens when the closing </em> tag accidentally gets missed off after a phrase in italics. It’s easy to add it back into the text view of your post, when you know when you’re looking for.

As a blogger, you’ll probably run across some occasions when you want to use HTML code. Maybe it’s on a forum, or even in a blog comment (some allow HTML), rather than on your blog itself.

Also, HTML isn’t very hard to understand, and if you want to make small tweaks to the theme of your blog, HTML is a good stepping stone on the path to understanding CSS (the code that styles your blog).

I’ll be posting about some more tags every blogger should know next week. In the meantime, revisit one of your past posts in editing mode, click on that “Text” tab and see what you can discover about HTML.




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9 Responses to “A Very Simple Introduction to HTML (and Why You Need to Know About It)”

  • Shawn Hartwell

    I actually think it’s important for everyone to have a basic understanding of HTML in this day and age. We’re reaching a point where these kinds of basic languages are everywhere, despite making everything “user friendly.”

  • Monica Womble

    I find that no matter if you’re trying to learn HTML code or not, you’ll end up learning some of it. It’s good to know and I’ve used it quite a bit. I’m just glad I don’t have to use it all of the time 😉

  • Heru Prasetyono

    If we are bloggers we can not avoid to know html. It is enevitable to learn about it although just a little.
    Basic knowledge about html will be very useful for bloggers and webmasters.
    Eventhough we are not programmers but we must learn html. WordPress blog platform provides us with the easiness in managing and designing blog even when we do not know about html at all.
    There are many advantages we can get if we know a lot about html.
    Thank you for reminding us to study html.

  • Chris Dardaris

    Nice information. I don’t know if I can post this here but this guide also helped me along side yours when learning HTML…thank you

  • Shawn Gossman

    Great article, Ali! I remember when HTML dominated blogging – makes me feel quite old, haha. But back in the old days, to post a new blog, you had to edit raw HTML code on a static webpage to add new content. And if you wanted comments, oh Lord lol, you had to get strategic and add a guest book code sniplet or something like that. Back when dreambook was the thing!

  • Ali Luke

    Thanks all!

    I agree that it’s pretty hard to avoid dipping into HTML as a blogger — I know it frightens some new bloggers, and it’s definitely worth getting comfortable with the basics. Even if you rarely use it, you’ll find occasions when it’s indispensable…

  • Greg

    Nice one Ali.

    I always tell people to try WordPress because it opens the doors to coding, but Blogger is a good option too.

    My first intro to HTML was a hrefs.

    Basic stuff like coloring and opening links in a new window. Now it’s all jQuery plugins – my how curiosity takes over!

  • Anand

    Ali,

    That is a good primer for HTML basics.

    In my opinion, all webmasters/bloggers should be familiar with basics of HTML/CSS for self reliance.

    An excellent resource yet free is w3schools.com which has been around for a while and you can learn all the popular programming languages there module by module or quickly lookup syntax.

    .

  • Max

    CSS is extremely powerful and vital in terms of managing your layout and page’s functionality – it frees you from boundaries of simple HTML tagging. But it’s tougher to master and has a lot of tweaks to gain control over. Still it’s more than worth time and efforts spent on. One of my personal priorities for 2014 is studying and practicing CSS, because I’d love to be more flexible in terms of page design and utility.

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