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Beginner’s Guide to HTML

written by: Ariala•edited by: Linda Richter•updated: 6/29/2009

Do you want to learn some basic HTML to help get you started on web design? Here, we will look at some basic commands and learn how HTML works.

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    Why is HTML Important?

    Web designers need to make themselves familiar with basic HTML code even if they use a web design programs like Dreamweaver, Frontpage and other programs.

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    HTML is the code that drives the look and navigation of a website. From the size of the headlines to where the paragraphs and colors appear, HTML code tells the system how to lay it all out in a presentable manner. The beginner website designer is smart to learn basic HTML just in case jumping to the code feature is necessary to fix something that the program can’t seem to fix.

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    HTML stands for "hypertext markup language." You can view any website’s HTML code if you select "view source" on your browser. Learning tag basics will help you fix things that don’t display correctly.

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    Every character counts

    Anyone who has been on the Internet for long knows that every character you type in will either work to bring up a page or it won’t. The same is true for HTML. Every character counts. You want to make sure to carefully use the right code and tags or your page won’t load. Sometimes the page loads, but so do your actual tags and HTML code on the page everyone sees!

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    All you need is Notepad

    The great thing about creating an HTML website from scratch is the fact that all you need is Notepad, WordPad or a word processor to write the code. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on a program. Creating the basic tags and code in one of these windows will give you the essentials for creating your website. After you’ve created the code, you can then open the document in a browser, like Internet Explorer. The browser reads your HTML commands and then displays your site!

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    Basic Commands and Code Tags

    Here is the basic HTML language you’ll find on a page:

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    • <html>
    • <header>
    • <title> </title>
    • </header>
    • <body>
    • </body>
    • </html>
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    All HTML code begins with <command> and ends with </command>. Here are some basic commands:

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    • Headers: This is the location where the homepage title belongs, as well as a description, some keywords, the author, and so forth.
    • Title: Title begins with <title> and ends with </title> for the actual title of your webpage.
    • Headings. There are six heading sizes and commands: <H1>, the largest through <H6>, the smallest.
    • Paragraphs. New paragraphs are shown with the command <P> (words here) </P>
    • Bold <B>Text here that you want in bold</B>
    • Italic <I>Text here that you want italicized</I>
    • Center <center>Text here that you wanted centered</center>
    • Font Size <font size=+1>Text here</font> (Increase the number size to see what it looks like.)
    • Font Color <font color="color code here">Text here</font>
    • Font Face <font face="font name here">Text here</font> (Choose "Arial", "Verdana" or any other font you'd like)

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    Picking up a good book on HTML will help you learn the code. Also, browse your favorite websites, check the source code and learn to read the commands that give the site the look you’re after. Read more about some cool HTML effects for your website.