Learning HTML

HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language. It is the code that allows a web browser (or search engine) to “understand” your web pages. You may hear HTML called a “semantic” language. That is because, when used correctly, HTML describes your website contents (as opposed to saying how they should look, a common mistake beginning webmasters make.)

How Hard it it to Learn HTML?

Not hard at all. You are essentially learning to include some tags in your writing that say “this is a headline” or “this is a paragraph”. You can easily learn the basics of HTML in a week or so, maybe even a day if you are really very motivated. HTML is always evolving though, so learning the more advanced topics like Canvas or Geolocation, and keeping up with all the new features, can take considerably more time.

In addition, you will want to learn CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) as well as HTML so that you can define how that headline or paragraph should be displayed. CSS is more complicated than HTML. You can learn the most basic things like fonts and colors easily in about the same timeframe as basic HTML, but it starts to get complicated when you want to center things or create images and animations with CSS.

How do you write HTML?

You can write HTML in any text editor. Text editors are different than word processors because they store JUST text. (Word processors have a kind of markup language of their own that can conflict with the HTML you are trying to write. Don’t use Word!!)

You can use an HTML template to get started, then add tags to your text. A finished page will look something like this:

<title>This title shows up in the tab on your browser
<link href='filewithmy.css' rel='stylesheet'>
<h1>This is the top level headline</h1>
<p>And here is a paragraph of all the intresting items you want to share.</p>
<img src='your picture filename' alt='a nice label describing your picture'> 

There are a lot more tags to learn about to really know HTML, but this file shows the basics of how the tags work. Most tags have an opening tag and a closing tag. For example, the h1 tag, which holds your headline text. All the words between the tags will show up as headlines on your web page. In addition, search engines will “see” the h1 tag and know that this is the main topic of your web page.

Other tags have all the relevant information inside the tag, like the img tag, and so do not have a closing tag at the end.

What is the Best Way to learn HTML?

There are plenty of good books and websites that can teach you HTML. There are also a lot of schools that offer courses in HTML – most community colleges for example – you do not need to go to a Coding Bootcamp to learn HTML or CSS (unless you are ready to take on the really advanced stuff – but even then bootcamps are designed to learn more serious “backend” programming with JavaScript, PHP, Python, Ruby, or Java).

My Favorite HTML Websites:

W3Schools: One thing that I hate is going to a website and having to put in my email, or worse my credit card number to even get a look at what they have to offer. There are a lot of other beginner websites out there that I’ve hear recommended, but W3Schools remains my favorite because of the fact they put the information out there for everyone to use, no signups or credit cards required! I also find that even after decades of building web pages, this is one of the best places to get a quick answer to “how exactly does that work, again?”

MDN Web Docs: This website offers a little higher level view than W3Schools. W3Schools is a quick ‘how-to’ while this MDN Introduction to HTML offers a little more background information about ‘why’ – so if you are the kind of person that likes to understand why something works the way it does, this might be the place for you to start, or if you have figured out the how-to and want to know more it can take you a little deeper.

If you are looking for something different that fits your learning style better, check out Best Places to Learn to Code for Free

About Karen 124 Articles
Karen Freeman-Smith lives near Portland, OR with her partner, two grown children (in and out of the basement), and a cat named Shiva. Karen maintains two personal websites as well as several topical websites about: Programming, Web Development, Foreign Languages, International Students, Fiction Writing, and Typing.

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