Hardcopy featured a 10-year-old boy one night back in the
mid-1990s. His psychotic mother wouldn’t take her meds and was beating
him up. He wanted to live with his father but the judge wouldn’t change
his custody arrangement. So the 10-year-old kid built a Web site to
encourage Internetters to contact the judge in support of a change in
If you think that you need professional help to build a static HTML Web
site, tell yourself “The abused 10-year-old got his site to
work; I think I can, too.”
You May Already Have Won $1 Million
Then again, maybe not. But at least you already know how to write legal HTML:
My Samoyed is really hairy.
That is a perfectly acceptable HTML document. Type it up in a text
editor, save it as index.html, and put it on your Web server. A Web
server can serve it. A user with Netscape Navigator can view it. A
search engine can index it.
Suppose you want something more expressive. You want the word
really to be in italic type:
My Samoyed is <I>really</I> hairy.
HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language. The <I> is markup. It tells the browser to start rendering words in italics. The </I> closes the <I> element and stops the italics If you want to be more tasteful, you can tell the browser to emphasize the word really:
My Samoyed is <EM>really</EM> hairy.
Most browsers use italics to emphasize, but some use boldface and browsers for ancient ASCII terminals (e.g., Lynx) have to ignore this tag or come up with a clever rendering method. A picky user with the right browser program can even customize the rendering of particular tags.
There are a few dozen more tags in HTML. You can learn them by choosing
View Source from a Web browser when visiting sites whose formatting you
admire. You can also work through a comprehensive HTML guide, e.g.,
http://www.w3schools.com/html/html_reference.asp (Web) and
HTML & XHTML: The Definitive Guide by Musciano and Kennedy (O’Reilly, 2002; print).
Armed with a big pile of tags, you can start strewing them among your
words more or less at random. Though browsers are extremely forgiving of
technically illegal markup, it is useful to know that an HTML document
officially consists of two pieces: the head and the body.
The head contains information about the document as a whole, such as the
title. The body contains information to be displayed by the user’s
Another structure issue is that you should try to make sure that you
close every element that you open. So if your document has a
<BODY> it should have a </BODY> at the end. If you
start an HTML table with a <TABLE> and don’t have a
</TABLE>, a Web browser may display nothing. Tags can
overlap, but you should close the most recently opened before the
rest, e.g., for something both boldface and italic:
My Samoyed is <B><I>really</I></B> hairy.