The 3-minute HTML tutorial

As computer formats go, HTML is easy and logical. It’s all just text that you can edit with any basic text editor, like gedit under Gnome, or notepad in Windows. Let’s start out with an example. Say you have a sentence, and you want one word in it to be bold. That sentence would look like this:

Guess which word is <b>bold</b>?

As you may have guessed, the bold word in that sentence is “bold”, in between <b> and </b> tags. The sentence will show up like so:

Guess which word is bold?

You now know HTML, the rest is just learning the names of the tags.

Here’s a slightly larger example:

<title>My first web page</title>
  Welcome to my <b>first ever</b> web page!
  It features:
  <li>A title!</li>
  <li>A header!</li>
  <li>A paragraph!</li>
  <li>An unordered list!</li>

What you end up with in the end is something like this:

My first web page - WoozWeb Browser


Welcome to my first ever web page! It features:

  • A title!
  • A header!
  • A paragraph!
  • An unordered list!

The part inside the <title> and the </title> is the title of your page: that’s what goes in the window frame at the very top of your web browser window, above the menus and everything else.

The stuff in between <h1> and </h1> is a “level-1 header”. That means that it’s the biggest header you can get. There are also h2, h3, h4, h5, and h6 headers, with h6 being the smallest.

The stuff inside <p> and </p> is a paragraph. Since HTML treats spaces the same as line breaks, you need to use paragraph tags around each paragraph. Inside the example paragraph is our old friend bold.

Then, there’s <ul> and </ul>, an “unordered list” (as opposed to an ordered list, which would have a number by each item). Inside the list are four “list items”, enclosed in <li> and </li>.

Now, for inline images:

  This is an
  <img src=""
       alt="face"></img> image, and
  <a href="">this</a> is a link.

Which will show up like this:

This is an face image, and this is a link.

The example above has an image tag, with two “attributes”, “src” and “alt”. The “src” attribute in an <img> tag gives the URL to a picture, and the “alt” attribute is the text that’s displayed to people who can’t see images (blind users, folks without graphics capabilities, or if there’s a problem on your web server). The “alt” attribute is required, but you can set it to "" if there’s nothing appropriate for alternate text.

Lastly, the link, enclosed inside of <a> and </a>. The “href” attribute gives the URL that the browser will go to if you click the link.

That’s it for basic HTML, and it should be enough to get you started writing your own pages. So go write something! The best way to learn it is to try stuff out and see what it does. For more neat HTML tags, check out HTML 3.2 by Examples, which is what I used to learn HTML.