At its heart, HTML is a fairly simple 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.
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, consuming the 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.
Note: If you are working on a computer/tablet/other device where you don't have the ability to create your own files, you could try out (most of) the code examples in an online coding program such as JSBin or Thimble.
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 all the other important terms you may have heard, and where they fit in to the language. We also show how an HTML element is structured, how a typical HTML page is structured, and explain other important basic language features. Along the way, we'll have a 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 (which is 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 a block of text up into a structure of headings and paragraphs, add emphasis/importance to words, create lists, and more.
- Creating hyperlinks
- Hyperlinks are really important — they are what makes the web a web. This article shows the syntax required to make a link, and discusses link best practices.
- Advanced text formatting
- There are many other elements in HTML for formatting text, which we didn't get to in the HTML text fundamentals article. The elements in here are less well-known, but still useful to know about. In here 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", "the main content column".) This article looks into how to plan a basic website structure, and write the HTML to represent this structure.
- Debugging HTML
- Writing HTML is fine, but what if something is going 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 you.
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 our text formatting skills! So 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, footer, navigation menu, main content, and sidebar.
- Web literacy basics 1
- An excellent Mozilla foundation course that explores and tests a lot of the skills talked about in the Introduction to HTML module. Learners get familiar with reading, writing and participating on the web in this six-part module. Discover the foundations of the web through production and collaboration.