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Anatomy of a Web Page Tags and Attributes Basic Layout

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Web for Beginners
Constructing a Web Site

Anatomy of a Web Page

Before you start thinking about coding a web page, try to place yourself in the proper mindset. First, you are creating something that will be, potentially, available to anyone in the world with access to the internet and a browser. Second, you are writing for a non-traditional media; your page will likely not look and act like a book or a pamphlet. You may want similar information on your page but you will have to re-create that information for a global web environment. Third, you will have to maintain your page. Unlike a book, a web page is never finished and is always under construction. As new documents appear and disappear on the web, your page should change. As new standards develop, your page should change. As new technologies appear, your page should change.

In its most basic form, a web page is created in plain ascii text using any standard text editor, and saved as an html file which can be opened and interpreted by a web browser. How the page looks, operates, is indexed and interacts with the client will depend in part on how you code the page -- so coding is important. On the other hand, you have no absolute control over how the client views or uses your pages. All pages should be coded to accepted standards and the policies of your institution, organization or internet service provider. Checking with your webmaster before you start may save you time and energy later.

Tags and Attributes

Tags are designed to tell the computer how to interpret the document you created for viewing by a human reader. HTML is a formatting language and the tags are its tools. There are dozens of different tags and html writers must be careful not to use tags that are browser or platform specific. Your documents should be written to a basic html standard and thus viewable by the widest possible audience.

In addition, the tags may be affected by the defaults set on your computer when you create the document and on the user's computer when the user views the document.

The format of your text is not governed by the codes generated through keyboard commands. In other words, hitting return will not space lines in an html document. All formatting must be done through the use of standard tags that are understood by the client's browser.

Most tags comes in pairs to indicate the beginning of the format and the end of the format. For example, <p> indicates a paragraph and </p> closes the paragraph. Many people are careless with the end tags and may not include them. This is not a good habit to develop for a couple of reasons. First, browsers are designed to work with standard code; some browsers are more forgiving than others but remember, you do not know what browser your potential users may have and you would like that page to work as you expect it to. Second, some newer forms of markup language, such as XML, require that all tags opened must eventually be closed.

Various attributes (size, shape, position, etc.) can be used with some tags to further enhance or clarify the format.

Among the types of tags that will help you are:

Perhaps most important of all are the linking or anchor tags which allow your client to make the hypertext jumps the web is known for.

Basic Layout

You begin a document by entering the html element. Your document is placed between two tags which tell the server to interpret that document as hypertext.

<html> </html>

The head element contains descriptive information about the document.

<head> </head>

Between the head tags, there should be <title> </title> title tags. Title tags are extremely important to the proper indexing of your page by automated web indexers; you should choose the text they enclose with care.

The information to be "served" to clients should be contained within body tags -- one following the head information and the other probably immediately preceding the close html tag at the very bottom of your document.

<body> </body>

Thus, the basic layout of an html file is:

<title>Title of the document</title>
<p>Displayed title of the document</p>
<p>The content and information.</p>

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This page created and maintained by Linda Hansen.
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Created: 1997/08/20 Last updated: 2010/08/18
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