Introduction to HTML Authoring

Complete dummy's how-to create a first web page guide.

I. Introduction to HTML.
II. Basic HTML Tags.
III. Basic Guidelines.
IV. Creating a Page.

I. Introduction to HTML pages:

HTML is an acronym for Hyper Text Markup Language. If you have NO familiarity with browsing the World Wide Web (WWW), you should not expect to be able to create web pages yet. This document is intended for at minimum, a user who has spent significant time browsing, and has therefore seen some of what is possible. Some familiarity with Word Processing is also necessary. One need not however have prior experience developing web pages.

HTML is a set of TAGS which an author inserts in the text of a document. When the document is viewed by a WWW browser, the tags determine basic attributes of how the document is displayed. Basic tags make type appear bold, italic or in different sizes. Other tags specify paragraph attributes such as headings and centered blocks. Advanced tags can create tables and numbered lists.

These same effects can be done in a word processor. HTML goes further than word processing by adding interactivity. Special tags in an HTML document are links to other documents. These links can allow the browser to select from a list, or connect to related information, or see pictures stored anywhere in the world.

Using HTML, a document can even contain a form to fill out, or small animated pictures, or continuously updated information.

HTML tags are embedded in a document, enclosed in <> symbols. Style changes have both start and end tags. End tags are preceded by a forward slash (/). For example: I is the code for italic style, so the text <I>italicize me</I> would appear italicized in an HTML document.

For a better introduction to HTML than can be included here, one should purchase a good book. I recommend a highly illustrated book called "How To Use HTML 3", by Scott Arpajian, published by Ziff-Davis Press, ISBN 1-56276-390-3. I understand that "HTML for Dummies" is also available. One could also download one of many HTML introduction documents available on WWW, simply search for HTML and FAQ. A link to a good HTML introduction has been provided on TVLink Servers, under Related Documentation on the tvladmin menu.

II. Basic HTML Tags:

Good HTML pages can be created with only a few basic tags. The following is a recommended minimum page content:
<TITLE>document title</TITLE>
<H1>document heading</H1>
document text goes here...

The document text can contain items in may ways: <B>bold</B> or <I>italic</I> and can be formatted using line breaks<BR>


and paragraph breaks<P>

A primary feature of course is links to other documents, such as <A HREF="t-htmlx.htm">HTML Test/Sample Page</A>

Certain characters such as quote marks and < > symbols cannot simply be included in the text, but rather must be specially coded. A quote mark for example must be coded &quot; For samples of many common markup tags and codes see:

Note that capitalization does not matter in tags, for example <I> and <i> are identical. Also note that except in pre-formatted blocks (<PRE>), it does not matter how paragraphs are formatted in your HTML source with respect to spacing and lines ends, as the text is reformatted when viewed. For example, text appearing in the HTML source file as:
IS A      TEST
Will display as simply: THIS IS A TEST

III. Technical Guidelines:

A few rules should be followed for good HTML coding. Some of these guidelines may not yet be meaningful to you. Once you have some experience creating HTML pages, review these guideline again.

A. Keep total files and dirs to a minimum.
This simplifies previewing the pages and moving them between systems. Typically, an individual can do with just a root directory, but also creating an "images" subdirectory is recommended.

B. Keep files names short and simple.
File names should be all lower case. The first part of a file name should never exceed eight characters. The extension (portion following the period) should always be ".htm". Don't use long file names, mixed case, absolutely no spaces, or multiple extension. Files names should contain only letters and numbers.

C. Use only relative paths.
This simplifies previewing the pages and moving them between systems. A link to "help.htm" for example will always work, whereas a link such as "/help.htm" will only work on a live server. This applies to href, image src, and backgrounds.

D. Always include a title (<TITLE>...</TITLE>) in each page.
This improves how your page is returned by search engines. And for best performance also include the following in the head section of each page:
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1">
<meta name="keywords" content="put your name and some description here">
<meta name="description" content="Put a very brief intro here">

E. Design and adhere to a standard format for your pages.
Select a standard for types of page headings, where to put links to your home page, background textures and all font styles and sizes. See these useful links: Sample Sites:
Sample Designs:
Sample Backgrounds:
Sample Colors:

F. Optimize images.
Keeping the total number of GIF image files low, and paying attention to the "save quality percent" of JPG images have the greatest effect on speed of page load.

IV. Creating a Page:

This process requires that some World Wide Web browser be properly installed on your system.

A. Start up Windows Notepad (under Accessories).

B. Type in a basic page as described earlier in this document.

C. Save the file as c:\windows\index.htm

D. Run File Manager (Win 3.x) or Windows Explorer (Win 95). Change to the c:\windows directory.

E. Double click on index.htm, soon Netscape or Explorer should appear, with your document displayed. Depending on your setup, your computer may try to dial the phone, you can cancel that action.

F. You may now adjust the document in the notepad window, save it, the reload it in the browser window.

G. If you have an address on the web, you can use FTP to upload your pages to the web, making them globally accessible. Contact a computer professional for assistance seting this up.