HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language. It's purpose is to specify general layout and appearance of text and other objects (images, applets, sound, movie, etc).

HTML is a tagged language. What this means is that it uses tags to mark the where and how of layout, appearance, or object.

For example, if you wanted some text to be bold face, you would place an opening bold tag before the text, and a closing bold tag after the text. It would look something like this:

<b>This text will be in bold face</b>
Notice that the closing tag looks just like the opening tag, except for the forward slash. This is an example of a paired tag, meaning that there is a matching closing tag.

Not all tags are paired. As a general rule, tags that insert multimedia elements are not paired.

Not all paired tags require the closing tag. Paired tags that require the closing tag will be noted when they are introduced.

Some tags have modifiers that further define how the tag works. These modifiers are known as attributes. Attributes go inside the opening tag, and are assigned a value. The attributes for a tag will be discussed when the tag is introduced.

Three very important things to understand about HTML documents:

  1. They are TEXT ONLY! The multimedia tags simply direct the browser to display a particular item at a particular location. It is NOT like Microsoft Word, where an image would actually become a part of the document.

  2. Carriage returns (pressing the ENTER key) in text of the body are converted to spaces. This means what look like two lines in your text editor is really one line (possibly wrapped) in the browser.

  3. If two or more spaces are next to each other, they are compacted to a single space.
It is VERY important that you use a text editor, or a tool such as DreamWeaver or FrontPage, to create the HTML files. If you do not, the page WILL NOT open in the browser.