What Is HTML?

HTML is a programming code that's responsible for text representation, defining visual format, providing search engines with page context and more.

Written by Anthony Corbo
Published on Dec. 29, 2022
What Is HTML?
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Omar Rabbolini | Aug 11, 2022

HTML (HyperText Markup Language) is a form of programming code used to instruct a browser to create the structure for individual web pages on a website. This markup language is a fundamental component of how billions of people perceive and consume pages on the internet. HTML is responsible for things like text representation, defining visual format, providing search engines with page context and designating sections of a page.


What Is HTML Used For?

HTML is a written markup language used to annotate text, images and other content in a structured manner for display on the internet.

HTML is used to provide structure to a webpage and make it accessible to users of the internet through text, visual formatting and search factors. It is commonly known as the most basic building block of the web, working alongside CSS and JavaScript to create the websites we see while browsing.

HTML, particularly its most recent form, is a highly capable programming language with a variety of uses when it comes to web browsing and data. Not only do we use HTML for web page development, web document creation and internet navigation, HTML5 introduces advanced APIs, facilitates client-side storage via localStorage and IndexDB, offers data entry support, facilitates offline application use through caching and can even be used in game development.

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What Is HTML Syntax?

Proper syntax is crucial when building out HTML documents. Without proper syntax, webpage elements wouldn’t function in the way they are intended and, more importantly, content would not display to the user in a manner that makes sense. Syntax also allows sections of elements to function alongside each other, rather than independently. 

HTML syntax is written within simple text documents that end with a .html extension. HTML documents consist of text elements that can be read and loaded by a web browser. HTML markup functions through the use of elements, which describe its functionality and are placed within a descending tree structure.

Surrounding these elements are angle tags (<>) that determine where the elements are placed and how they will function. For every tag that’s opened, a corresponding closing tag must usually be placed in order for it to function. A closing tag is identical to an opening tag, but with a forward slash placed before the element (</>). All markup written between these two tags will be structured using the element written within each tag. An example of an element and an opening tag is <head>. To close this tag, you would use the </head> tag.

Additionally, a web browser can read 16 different HTML attributes to communicate certain functionality when used inside of an element. For example, you can use the href attribute to point to a specific link in conjunction with the a element, which determines anchor text. This would be written as <a href=”https://examplesite.com”>Example Anchor Text</a>. Other components of HTML syntax include the ability to leave developer comments that are not processed by the browser and self-enclosing elements that do not contain anything inside of them

Many websites can and do function perfectly with poor syntax, but good code practice exists as a way of eliminating headaches when creating the website, easing troubleshooting operations when things can (and will) go wrong. This practice facilitates collaboration with other developers, streamlined future updates and helps prepare for the eventual handoff of the website’s code when the developer is no longer working on it.

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What Are 5 Basic HTML Tags?

There are many HTML elements we can use to structure a web page. While developers choose elements for  specific purposes, some tags are crucial to HTML document structure and are used most frequently. These five tags are just a fraction of the basic tags developers consider fundamental to HTML programming:

  1. <html> — The root element tag that defines everything placed between its opening and closing tags as HTML code.
  2. <head> — Defines the head of the web page and is where JavaScript code lives.
  3. <title> — Defines the web page’s title and is often what shows up in search engine results.
  4. <h1> — Defines the most prominent heading on a web page.
  5. <p> — Defines content that lives within a paragraph and allows browsers to insert spaces between paragraphs for legibility.

Other important tags to know when building a page include the <body>,<a>,<div>,<span> and <img> tags.

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