Getting text into a Web page is easy—you just open up an XHTML file, drop in your content, and add the occasional formatting tag. Unfortunately, getting text to look exactly the way you want it to is a completely different story.
One of the first things you’ll notice when you start working on a Web site is how little control you have over your pages’ final appearance. No matter how carefully you code your XHTML, you’re at the mercy of your viewers’ Web browsers and a dozen other details beyond your control. Under these conditions, writing a perfect page feels like trying to compose a 90-minute symphony with a triangle and a pair of castanets.
Faced with these limitations, what’s an enterprising Web developer to do? The first step is to figure out just how much control you do have—to learn the XHTML commands you can use to structure your text into headings, paragraphs, lists, and more. That’s the task you’ll tackle in this chapter. The second step—which you won’t dive into until the next chapter—is to use style sheets, powerful page-formatting instructions that let you change the appearance of individual Web pages or even your entire Web site.
Sooner or later, every Web site creator discovers that designing for the Web is very different from designing something that’s going to be printed. Before you can unleash your inner Web-page graphic designer, you need to clear a few conceptual hurdles.
Consider the difference between ...