An Introduction to HTML

You cannot have a website without HTML. A website used to be defined as a page designed using HTML. Though we have come a long way from that definition and have a lot of other components that form part of a Website, we still cannot have a website without HTML. In this series, I will be jotting down things that are absolute must for anyone to learn HTML.

What is HTML?

HTML stands for Hyper Text Markup Language. Any HTML document consists of several tags and plain text. Any HTML document will be called a web page. A detailed explanation of the meaning of HTML can be found here, and is shown below.

  • Hyper is the opposite of linear. In the good old days – when a mouse was something the cat chased – computer programs ran linearly: when the program had executed one action it went to the next line and after that, the next line and so on. But HTML is different – you can go wherever you want and whenever you want. For example, it is not necessary to visit before you visit
  • Text is self-explanatory.
  • Mark-up is what you do with the text. You are marking up the text the same way you do in a text editing program with headings, bullets and bold text and so on.
  • Language is what HTML is. It uses many English words.

An HTML code requires nothing more than a text editor for it being written, and a browser for viewing the output.

HTML Versions

Since the early days of the web, there have been many versions of HTML:

HTML 2.01995
HTML 3.21997
HTML 4.011999
XHTML 1.02000


What we will be discussing here is the generic build of HTML, over which we can build as time goes by. There are minor differences in rules governing tags etc. in some of them. I will try to point those out at least in some places.

Doctype Declaration in HTML

The declaration helps the browser to display a web page correctly. This is not mandatory for basic HTML, but later versions require this so that the correct version of HTML can be identified.

There are many different documents on the web, and a browser can only display an HTML page 100% correctly if it knows the HTML type and version used.

An example of doctype declaration for HTML5 is as below:

<!DOCTYPE html>

This indicates to the browser that the rest of the page should be read as an HTML5 document.


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