As a professional who deals with web files (either as a webmaster or a Help programmer), you will consider an HTML file on two fronts: what the browser "sees" and what the viewers see (that's what the browser displays). This means, from your standpoint, this kind of file is set in two versions. What the browser "sees" or reads is made of special instructions you give to the browser. The browser interprets your instructions and displays the result to the best of its interpretation.
Although the HTML language is regulated and monitored by an independent organization (www.w3c.org), not all browsers read everything the same way. We will cover as many instructions as necessary for our HTML Help lessons and as read by Microsoft Internet Explorer.
An instruction you give to the browser is called a tag. This means, an HTML file is made of tags, and there are a lot of them. Since we have already mentioned that an HTML file is considered as two versions of the same files (what the browser sees and what the file viewers see), and both versions can be written in the same language (in this case English), you need to let the browser know what and where is a tag, and what and where is not a tag. Therefore you enclose a tag between a < sign and a > sign. For example, a tag could be written <house>; when the browser sees <house>, it treats it as a tag and it will not display it. It will look into its own dictionary and find out what the <house> tag mean. If it can interpret it, then it displays it accordingly, if it can't, then it follows other instructions; for example, it could skip it, or display it "as is". As a result, some browsers cannot read some tags while others can…
You have two choices with regard to the text you want to display on the file: you can type it "as is" or enclose it between specific tags. For example, if you want to display the words Microsoft Internet Explorer, you can just type them like that and they will be displayed fine. But if you want to display them in a particular way, for example as Microsoft Internet Explorer (notice that Microsoft is underlined and Internet is in bold characters), you need to give special instructions to the browser. In this case, all three words share a certain common instruction, the first has its own instructions, and so does the second. To make the browser display a word or group of words in a certain way, you need to tell the browser where the word is or where the group of words are, and to give a (or some) particular
instruction(s), you surround the word or group of words with appropriate tags. To specify where the instruction, which means tag starts, you type it as we have already learned, for example <house>. To specify where the instruction, which means tag, ends, you include the same tag but to show that this is the end of the instruction, you add a forward slash "/" between the < and the tag name. In this case that would be </house>. Everything between <house> and </house> will be treated according to the browser's interpretation of the <house> tag.
Almost all tags should have a beginning and closing in your file(s): don't forget it. We will eventually find out how to open and close a tag, and which tags don't need to be closed.
The tags you include in your files are not case sensitive. This means <HTML>, <HTml>, and <html> are interpreted in the same way. Unless stated otherwise, I like to keep my tags in lowercase, as in <html>
Whenever the browser finds text in your file, it tries to know how you want your text to display. You are allowed to change a font's style, its color, or its name.