2.1. A Guide to HTML

2.1. A Guide to HTML

HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language and is the computer language that websites are written in. Whilst you don't have to learn HTML - and this guide lists some of the alternatives - it's best if you do, especially if you plan on making changes to pre-made programs such as message boards or image galleries.

There are plenty of books on the subject which go into much more detail than this guide, there are even more websites available if you want some more detail, but the next four pages will tell you everything you need to know to get a basic page with text, images and links up on the internet.


Before you can even write your first line of HTML you need the right equipment, fortunately all you need is a basic text editor and Notepad is ideal - something that comes with every computer. To open Notepad click the Start button, select All Programs, Accessories and click on Notepad. You now have everything you need to write HTML!

What does HTML look like?

HTML is a series of "tags", each tag starts with a less-than sign < and end with a greater-than sign > with the command in between. Each tag should be on its own line, this keeps things tidier and makes it much easier for you. You can start a new line by pressing the return key on your keyboard.

Your first line

Every page must start with an HTML tag, this tells your browser (Internet Explorer or Firefox for example) that the page is written in HTML. So open Notepad and at the very top type:

Congratulations you've written your first line of HTML, that wasn't too painful was it!

The head

Just like a good pint, every webpage needs a HEAD tag. This is where you can put the title and other advanced things that you may encounter later in your webmastering career. So underneath the HTML tag type:

The next tag you need is the TITLE tag. This is how you write things in the title bar of the web browser, if you look to the top left of your screen you'll see "Valcato Hosting - A Guide to HTML" this is done using the TITLE tag. So beneath the HEAD tag, type:

Valcato Hosting - A Guide to HTML

Obviously change what you write so that it describes what's on your webpage, or the title of your website. You'll notice that at the end we also wrote /TITLE, this tells your web browser that the title has ended.

To finish the head, type:

So just to summarise what you should have so far:

My First Webpage

Next: A Guide to HTML Page 2
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