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Where To Begin

Saving Files

The lessons in this site will teach you how to build a web page using HTML, without using special editor programs. All of your HTML files must be saved in standard ASCII text format. This format is used automatically when you write in note.pad (Win95/98/NT) or Simple Text (Mac). If you use a word processor, you must select "Save files as: Text" or " Save files as: HTML" in order for it to be readable by web browsers.

Finding a Host Site

You need to find a place to house your web pages, a HOST. Personal home page space is usually provided free when you subscribe to a commercial online service (AOL, Prodigy,Compuserv, etc.) or through your local ISP (Internet Service Provider). A better alternative is to look for a FREE home page server, which provides you with a small space to place your pages. Small space is fine, HTML files are small and the graphic formats that can be used (.gif and .jpg) are also small or compressed for faster transfer.

You might want to consider using a FREE service to host your home page even if you use an ISP/Online Service so that you never have to move your pages if you decide to change your Internet Service Provider. Some good free home page hosters are Tripod, Geocities, and Angelfire. When you "sign up" for one of these services, you get a username and password. This means that only you (or anyone that you tell your password to) can modify your pages.

Writing your Files

Now that you have a place to keep your pages on the web, you need to begin creating those pages. Two copies of your home page should always exist, one will be on your hard drive and the other on your providers server.

HTML

The Page you are viewing right now is an HTML document. HTML is the abbreviation for Hypertext Markup Language. It consists of tags which indicate the layout of graphics and text and their properties to the software reading the page, usually a browser. It is similar to the red marks used by English teachers when correcting papers. HTML allows for links to occur between text and other documents or text within the same document.

Tags

HTML documents look a lot like word-processing documents...

You can have bold and italicized, Larger and Smaller, or it could look type-written.

Of course, the HTML code for this looks like a bunch of gibberish...

You can have <b>bold</b> and <i>italicized</i>, <font size=+2>Larger</font> and <font size=-2>Smaller</font>, or it could look <tt>type-written</tt>.

So what are all these "<" and ">" things doing here? When you place a certain letters or words within these you are making something known as a tag. For example the <b> tag is saying to start bold text, and the </b> tag is saying to stop bold text. The tag with the slash (/) is known as the closing tag. Many opening tags require a following closing tag, but not all do. Tags make up the entire structure of an HTML document.

<b>This Text is Bold</b>

^^^--Opening Tag    ^^^^--Closing Tag

Here are two pieces of HTML code, the second of the two has an error in it, what is it?

#1 - Dave jumped OVER the fence.
#1 - Dave jumped <b>OVER</b> the fence.
#2 - Dave jumped UNDER the fence.
#2 - Dave jumped <b>UNDER<b> the fence.

You should have noticed that the second code is missing a slash (/) in the tag after the word UNDER, which causes the web browser to interpret the code as leaving the bold face on! This is a common error, so be careful!

Note: Tags in HTML are NOT case sensitive. For example... <title> and <TITLE> both mean the same thing and are interpreted as being the same.


Document Structure


HTML files are just normal text files... they usually have the extension of .htm, .html, or .shtml. HTML documents have two (2) parts, the head and the body. The body is the larger part of the document, as the body of a letter you would write to a friend would be. The head of the document contains the document's title and similar information, and the body contains most everything else.

Example of basic HTML document Structure...

<html>
<head><title>Title goes here</title></head>
<body>Body goes here</body>
</html>

You may find it easier to read if you add extra blank lines such as follows...

<html>

<head>
<title>Title goes here</title>
</head>

<body>
Body goes here
</body>

</html>

Note: Extra spaces and line breaks (blank lines) will be ignored when the HTML is interpreted... so add them if you wish to do so.

Whatever falls between the TITLE tags will be the title of the document, when the page is viewed it is usually found in the title bar at the top of the screen. [Note: You may NOT use other tags within the TITLE tags (Example: You cannot have the code read: <title><b>title goes here</b></title>.]

Example of how titles are viewed...

In Netscape Navigator or Communicator...
Netscape - [Title goes here] OR Title goes here - Netscape [depending on version]

In Microsoft Internet Explorer...
Title goes here - Microsoft Internet Explorer

Whatever you place between the BODY tags will fall into the major area of the document window, and therefore it is the largest part of your HTML document.

 


[Introduction | Go to Lesson 2!]


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