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HTML is pretty simple. First of all, it stands for Hypertext Mark-Up Language. (You really don't need to know that little fact, but I thought I'd impart it anyway. Now you can use it to sound knowledgeable when you're talking about computers with your friends.) Anyway, HTML is a series of codes that you type in to manipulate text, add an image to your page, put in a link to another website, etc. Each code is enclosed in brackets like this:
Often a code involves two parts, in two sets of brackets--one before the area of the page affected by the code, and one just after. The second part will have a slash just after the first bracket, like so:
It is very important that you do not forget the slash and that you type each code correctly, or it will not work. At best a faulty code will affect only a small area of the page--at worst, it will disrupt the entire thing, and you will have to go back and find the mistake to correct it. If you page involves a lot of tables, this can be very tedious. Be careful when writing the code and hopefully you won't have any problems. It helps if you write codes in capital letters, so that they stand out from the rest of the text. It also helps to isolate important sections of code from the rest by skipping a line above and below that part when writing it. The line will show up when you look at the source of the page (the actual code) but not on the HTML page itself. You can also leave little notes to yourself embodied in the code. By putting the tags <!-- and --> before and after your text, these will also appear in the body of the code but not on the actual webpage.
So now that I've confused you even further, I guess I'd better explain the difference between the code and the actual webpage. If you're using Tripod or other online webpage hosts, this won't be so necessary to know, but if you're writing your webpages on your own computer and then uploading them to a site, you'll need to understand this. You will write the actual code-- what I'm about to teach you--in a simple word processor or similar program (for instance, on Tripod, I'm typing right now in a blank, word processor-like program they have as one of the tools you get when you sign up for them to host your website.) So then, (unless, again, you're using an online hosting service), you'll want to save the code. Save it as a normal text file-- this is very important. Some advanced word processors like Microsoft Word will try to save it as an HTML file, which you don't want to do just yet. I suggest a very simple word processor like Microsoft Text, which comes with any version of Windows. Don't bother formatting the actual text of the code with italics or anything like that, because it will only make the text more confusing and won't show up on the actual webpage. (You could try using italics or bold font to make certain important sections of your code stand out for your personal organization, however.)
So after you've saved the code as a text file, then you'll go to File/Save As, and save it as an HTML document. Just type in the name of the page and .html, and make sure the box below that specifies the file type says "HTML file" or "Any Type" or something similar in it. Then go to the place on your computer where you've saved the HTML file; when you open that, you'll see your webpage. If you decide to edit the webpage, go back to the text version of the code. Write in the changes necessary to the code, save the code as text again, then save the new code as an HTML file of the same name as your old HTML file. The computer will ask you if you want to replace the old file; say yes. Then open up the HTML file again to see the changes you've made.
Now, like I said, you won't go through all this if you're using an online webpage host. You'll just type the code in their online text editor, then follow their directions for saving. You can go to your account and open the text file to edit the code any time you wish, then just save it again and the host should automatically overwrite the old HTML file. By looking at a listing of the files in your account, you should be able to view the actual, HTML webpage.
One of the best tips I can give you for learning HTML is to surf the web, look at some really good-looking webpages, then look at their code to see how they did it, and copy them. (You can view the code for any webpage by going to "View" at the top of your web browser and hitting "Source.") There is only so much I can teach you before you have to start picking things up on your own. I've attempted to give you some idea of applications for various codes, especially tables, and I hope to come back later and add more examples, but the best thing you can do for yourself is just go out on the Net and get some ideas. Use your imagination. If you like something, remember it and try it out on your own webpages. Start simple and build up slowly, and don't be afraid to scrap everything and start over again. I built three webpages before I finally made one I liked enough to keep.
If all this sounds very confusing, read on, learn some code, then just try doing what I said. Hopefully that will make things clearer.
A word of warning to anyone learning HTML; many words in the code have alternate spellings in Britain. HTML uses the American spellings. Watch out for this--if you use the British spelling of, for instance "center" (centre), then the code will not work!
So, now that you've signed up for some webspace and you know how HTML works, just click "next" below to learn the beginning HTML codes.