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Publishing information: webpages and HTML for beginners

In today’s ‘information age’ we’re often confronted with a variety of content types – Open Office, MS Word, PDFs, scanned images even. Increasingly however the webpage is becoming the content type of choice. And for good reasons over and above other formats. Web pages:

  • Are universally accessible – all you need is a decent browser
  • Provide a simple method for referencing content
  • Users can easily move from content to content
  • There is next to nothing you can’t do with a webpage
  • If there’s something you can do with another format, you can bet it can be done on a webpage too

Remarkably, given the opportunities webpages present, people rarely become familiar with the tools you need to create them. Why? Because they see a chevron (<) and run screaming for cover, shouting ‘That’s not in my job description!’.

Today let’s put that behind us and learn just how simple it is to make text bold, italicised, or a hyperlink.

To begin, we need to understand that the fundamental language browsers read web pages with is HTML – hyper-text mark-up language. This uses a tagging system to alert browsers to the design of the webpage. A tag begins and ends with a pair of chevrons like so: <>. HTML generally features beginning and end tags – the end tag has an / after the first chevron. So if we want some text to be bold, we put in a <strong> tag before it and a </strong> tag at the end of it. Similarly we can use the ’em’ tag to format text: <em>the text between the ’em’ tags is italicised</em>.

Adding links is perhaps the most useful aspect of webpages. To create one we need three bits of information – the code for a link which is ‘a’, a url for the browser to be taken to (we need to wrap this in quotation marks and precede it with href), and some text the user can click on. So we use the following statement to add a link:

<a href=””>Click on this Example URL</a>

If you want the link to open in a new window, add target=”_blank” after the url’s final quotation mark.

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