HTML is the "language" that web pages are written in - in fact, HTML stands for "hypertext mark-up language." But what does that mean?
- Hyper is the opposite of linear. Old-fashioned computer programs were necessarily linear - that is, they had a specific order. But with a "hyper" language such as HTML, the user can go anywhere on the web page at any time.
- Text is just what you're looking at now - English characters used to make up ordinary words.
- Mark-up is what is done to the text to change its appearance. For instance, "marking up" your text with <b> before it and </b> after it will put that text in bold.
- Language is just that. HTML is the language that computers read in order to understand web pages.
Do I Need to Understand HTML to Create My Website?
Actually, no. There are many website-building programs on the market that don't require knowledge of HTML at all. You tell the program what you want, and the program creates the HTML for you.
However, it's definitely to your benefit to understand how HTML works, even if you're using one of these programs, so you can take full advantage of everything they have to offer. And if you're a do-it-yourselfer, creating your own website from scratch, including the HTML code, can be a lot of fun.
What Do I Need to Write HTML?
A computer, an Internet browser (if you're reading this web page now, you've obviously got both), and a word-processing program such as Microsoft's Notepad or WordPad, or Mac's Simple Text. Technically speaking, that's all you need.
What Can I Do with HTML?
HTML coding is what makes your website look like a website, rather than just plain text. With HTML, you can:
- Create titles, headings and subheadings.
- Make a bulleted or numbered list.
- Delineate paragraphs.
- Put text in bold or italics.
- Add pictures and links to your site.
- And much more.
How Do I Learn HTML?
There are, of course, many books and courses devoted to teaching you HTML, but if you have some time and persistence, you can learn basic HTML coding techniques online, for free. Type a query such as "free HTML tutorial" into your favorite search engine, and you'll be amazed at the number of helpful sites you'll find.
Ready? Get coding!