When I first started to write web pages I was lucky in that I found at the very beginning an excellent site at Bath University which explained the basics of HTML in an easy-to-understand format. I would recommend this site to anyone if it were not for the fact that it is no longer there! I presume the author finished his course and the site was discontinued when he left. I have, therefore, decided to try to emulate his work and write a basic introduction of my own which, I hope, will prove to be both easy to understand and useful.
HTML stands for Hyper Text Markup Language which evolved from SGML, a much broader "language" used to define markup "languages" for particular purposes. An HTML document is no more than a plain ASCII text file that can be edited in any plain text utility (e.g. Notepad, Emacs, Ed) If you really have to you can use an ordinary word processor but it is essential if you do that whenever you save the text you must go to "Save As" every time and save the file as an ASCII file.
There are many web-authoring utilities about to help you create a web page but none is as good as "raw" HTML written in ASCII as they have to try to be "all things to all men". Some have the nasty habit of inserting program-specific codes (e.g. the products of Microsoft and Netscape) that are not universally accepted. If all you want to do is get a Home Page up-and-running in the shortest time possible then download a WYSIWYG web-editor and stop reading this article now. It will probably work on most platforms although viewers to your page may be told it contains errors if their particular browser doesn't understand some of the coding. Having said that, if you are using Internet Explorer as your browser, then if you can see your page as you want it to be you can be assured that with more people using this browser than any other your message will get across to most people. If, however, like me you would like to know the ins and outs of the "language" - read on!
Once you have mastered the basics, a very good way of learning (and quite legitimate too) is, when you come across a site you like the look of, to download it and go through how it was constructed. I learned a lot that way, and you can too. It is not always possible, depending on your browser, as when sites use "frames" some browsers won't let you see the name of the page you are viewing! You can, however, usually see the name displayed when you place your mouse pointer over the link to that page.
Feel free to look at the construction of these pages - but please read through them first.
At this point I would like to thank and acknowledge the work of my unknown benefactor from Bath. Should he ever get to read this page, then I'd love to hear from him.