Chapter 8. HTML Overview

HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) is the language used to create web documents. It defines the syntax and placement of the elements that make up the structure of a web document. All web page elements are identified by special tags that give browsers instructions on how to display the content (the tags themselves do not display). Some HTML tags are used to create links to other documents, either locally or over a network such as the Internet.

This chapter provides a basic introduction to the background and general syntax of HTML, including document structure, tags, and their attributes. It also looks briefly at good HTML style and the pros and cons of using WYSIWYG authoring tools.

For a more in-depth study of HTML, I recommend HTML and XHTML: The Definitive Guide, by Chuck Musciano and Bill Kennedy (O’Reilly, 2000). Another excellent resource for HTML tag information is the HTML Compendium (created by Ron Woodall). The Compendium provides an alphabetical listing of every HTML tag and its attributes, with explanations and up-to-date browser support information for each. The browser support charts accompanying each tag in this book are based on the Compendium. The HTML Compendium can be found at

The HTML Standard

The HTML standard and all other Web-related standards are developed under the authority of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Standards, specifications, and drafts of new proposals can be found at ...

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