HTML Basics

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

This page is a basic, practical, 5 minutes tutorial of HTML.

Basic Structure

HTML is a very simple markup language. Here's a example. Save the following text in a file, name it sample.html, then open the file in a browser.

<!doctype html>
<html>

 <head>
  <meta charset="utf-8" />
  <title>Sample HTML</title>
 </head>

 <body>
  <h1>Sample HTML</h1>
  <p>Earth is round</p>
 </body>

</html>

Basically, text are enclosed by tags. For example, in the above, the <html></html> wraps around the whole file indicating that the whole file is a HTML file.

<head></head> contains meta info about the file.

<title></title> gives the title of the file.

<body></body> are the content of the file.

<h1></h1> is the header of the content.

<p></p> is a paragraph.

Each of the <name> is called a tag.

Most Important Tags

Here is the most frequently used tags.

Headers h1 h2 h3...

There are h1 up to h6.

<h1></h1>
First level heading
<h2></h2>
Second level heading
<h3></h3>
Third level heading
<h4></h4>
4th level
<h5></h5>
5th level
<h6></h6>
6th level. There is no 7th.

Paragraph

<p></p>
Paragraph. Can contain multiple lines.

line-break

<br />
force a line-break. HTML markup without a closing tag are called Self-Closing Tags. [see List of HTML Self-Closing Tags]

Literal Text block

<pre></pre>
Literal text block. Can contain multiple lines. Usually used for Computer Code or poem.

Blockquote

<blockquote></blockquote>
block quote. Can contain multiple lines and other markups such as paragraph or list.

Unordered List

<ul>
<li>list item 1</li>
<li>list item 2</li>
</ul>

[see HTML: List: ul ol li]

Ordered List

<ol>
<li>ordered list item 1</li>
<li>ordered list item 2</li>
</ol>

Link

<a href="url">description</a>
Link to a website.
<a href="http://example.com/">http://example.com/</a>

Image

<img src="filepath" alt="description" />
embed image.
<img src="my_cat.jpg" alt="my cat" />

bold

<b></b>
bold

italics

<i></i>
italics

Literal Inline Code

<code></code>
literal inline text. usually used for computer code.

Generic Inline Text Markup

<span></span>
general markup for inline text. It is similar to the bold tag b but without any meaning.

Generic Block Markup

<div></div>
general markup for a block of text. It is similar to p. Usually used to group other elements inside.

Self Closing Tags

Some element do not have a closing tag. For example,

<img src="cat.jpg" alt="my cat" />

These are called self-closing tags. [see List of HTML Self-Closing Tags]

Element's Attributes

Each element may have attributes.

The syntax for attributes are like this:

<p name="value"></p>

or

<p name></p>

The one without the equal sign is called boolean attributes. They are rare.

What attributed are allowed for each elements depends on the element.

Most Important Attributes: class, id

Two most frequently used attributes, can be used on any element, are class and id attributes.

<p class="xyz">the class attribute allows a element to be identified by CSS and JavaScript.</p>
<p id="x34">the id attribute allows a element to be identified by CSS and JavaScript. ID value must be unique per HTML page.</p>

A element can have many attributes. For example, here's a inline image:

<p id="x34" class="xyz">I traveled around the world.</p>

The class and id attributes are used by Cascading Style Sheet and JavaScript to identify a element.

Case Sensitivity

HTML/CSS Case Sensitivity

Versions of HTML

There are many versions of HTML and XHTML, and it is really a mess. If you are creating new pages, not maintaining old websites, i recommend HTML5. Put the following line at the beginning of your file.

<!doctype html>

HTML Basics

List

HTML Table

Image

Video Audio

Misc

HTML4 Frameset