At its heart, HTML is a language made up of elements, which can be applied to pieces of text to give them different meaning in a document (Is it a paragraph? Is it a bulleted list? Is it part of a table?), structure a document into logical sections (Does it have a header? Three columns of content? A navigation menu?), and embed content such as images and videos into a page. This module will introduce the first two of these and introduce fundamental concepts and syntax you need to know to understand HTML.
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Before starting this module, you don't need any previous HTML knowledge, but you should have at least basic familiarity with using computers and using the web passively (i.e., just looking at it and consuming content). You should have a basic work environment set up (as detailed in Installing basic software), and understand how to create and manage files (as detailed in Dealing with files). Both are parts of our Getting started with the web complete beginner's module.
This module contains the following articles, which will take you through all the basic theory of HTML and provide ample opportunity for you to test out some skills.
- Getting started with HTML
Covers the absolute basics of HTML, to get you started — we define elements, attributes, and other important terms, and show where they fit in the language. We also show how a typical HTML page is structured and how an HTML element is structured, and explain other important basic language features. Along the way, we'll play with some HTML to get you interested!
- What's in the head? Metadata in HTML
The head of an HTML document is the part that is not displayed in the web browser when the page is loaded. It contains information such as the page
<title>, links to CSS (if you want to style your HTML content with CSS), links to custom favicons, and metadata (data about the HTML, such as who wrote it, and important keywords that describe the document).
- HTML text fundamentals
One of HTML's main jobs is to give text meaning (also known as semantics), so that the browser knows how to display it correctly. This article looks at how to use HTML to break up a block of text into a structure of headings and paragraphs, add emphasis/importance to words, create lists, and more.
Hyperlinks are really important — they are what makes the web a web. This article shows the syntax required to make a link and discusses best practices for links.
- Advanced text formatting
There are many other elements in HTML for formatting text that we didn't get to in the HTML text fundamentals article. The elements here are less well-known, but still useful to know about. In this article, you'll learn about marking up quotations, description lists, computer code and other related text, subscript and superscript, contact information, and more.
- Document and website structure
As well as defining individual parts of your page (such as "a paragraph" or "an image"), HTML is also used to define areas of your website (such as "the header", "the navigation menu", or "the main content column"). This article looks into how to plan a basic website structure and how to write the HTML to represent this structure.
- Debugging HTML
Writing HTML is fine, but what if something goes wrong, and you can't work out where the error in the code is? This article will introduce you to some tools that can help.
The following assessments will test your understanding of the HTML basics covered in the guides above.
- Marking up a letter
We all learn to write a letter sooner or later; it is also a useful example to test out text formatting skills. In this assessment, you'll be given a letter to mark up.
- Structuring a page of content
This assessment tests your ability to use HTML to structure a simple page of content, containing a header, a footer, a navigation menu, main content, and a sidebar.