What HTML Tags Are

The HyperText Markup Language (HTML) is a programming language used to create World Wide Web (WWW) pages. The language is composed primarily of TAGS which specify what should be done on a page. These TAGS in turn have ATTRIBUTES which can be set. ATTRIBUTES are the variables used to customize the layout of a WWW page.

All tags have the same basic format. A "<" (less-than sign) indicates the start of a tag, and a ">" (greater-than sign) indicates the end of a tag. In between is the type of tag and all attributes.

Most HTML tags are what are known as CONTAINERS. This is because the text to be altered is contained within two complementary HTML tags, an OPENING TAG and a CLOSING TAG. The CLOSING TAG has a "not" or "close" symbol, "/" (forward slash), before the tag name to indicate that it is a closing tag. Thus, a typical markup might look like the following.

<b>This is the marked up text.</b>
<p align="center">This tag has an attribute in it.</p>

Note that the closing tag repeats the tag name, but not any attributes.

Tags can be uppercase or lowercase, but for better XHTML and XML compliance, tags are usually lowercase and should be consistent. In other words, do not close a <b> tag with a </B> tag, but rather with </b>.

Remember that since most HTML tags are containers, it is important to maintain the order in which tags are opened and closed. Tags should be closed inner to outer, or reverse order from the opening order.

Correct: <b><i><u>This is correct.</u></i></b>
Incorrect: <b><i><u>This is not correct.</b></i></u>

Since the "<" and ">" symbols are used to indicate an HTML tag, other code needs to be used to include these symbols in the text. This code is "&lt;" and "&gt;" (without the quotes), respectively. Since the ampersand is a special symbol as well, it needs to be represented by "&amp;" (without the quotes).

Since HTML is meant to be a general language, it must be a text-only document in order to properly be transmitted over the Internet. Remember when creating WWW pages that the document must contain only the ASCII character set and must be saved as text only.

These are the basics of the HyperText Markup Language. Further documents will provide some of the most-used HTML tags and attributes.

For more detailed information please visit the World Wide Web Consortium at http://www.w3c.org.

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For international purposes, copyright on material on pages which display the above notice is claimed under the Berne Convention (1971 Paris text) by Matthew Duhan.

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