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How To Create
Your First Web Page

This HTML Tutorial is about how to create your first Web page by coding HTML using a text editor (such as NotePad) and then viewing the document using your Web browser.
To begin a Web page you will open a simple text editor like Windows NotePad for the Windows operating system or SimpleText for the Macintosh. Once you have this simple text editor open to a new blank document you will begin your web document by typing a few items I shall discuss in a moment. When you reach the closing part of this file I will ask you to save it to a floppy disk with a filename of firstpage.html. This is discussed below, in the section titled Saving the File. The method of opening the file using your Web browser is discussed in the section titled Open and View the File. Let's begin.
The first thing you are to type in the text editor work area is a left angle bracket, < the letters HTML, and the right angle bracket, >. The symbols and letters should look like this:
<HTML>
<HTML> is the opening for any HTML Web Page. HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language. By having coded the <HTML> the browser will know which language it is to handle. What is HTML?  is an article containing additional information about HTML.
A lot of information of your own preference is placed into a coded document. The term document refers to what is being coded and typed in the text editor. The term page refers to what the browser displays for the viewer or what you see in your browser window when your browser has opened your coded document. Try not to confuse the two terms. Think of the document as what is being coded and saved as a .html file and page refer to the Web page seen by the user from the Web browser window.
 
When it eventually comes time to end your document, the last thing that should be coded is the closing </HTML>. Notice the forward slash this time in front of the HTML letters. The forward slash precedes letters to close HTML "tags". Many elements have a beginning tag and an ending tag. The only difference between the two is that the ending tag has a slash right after the left angle bracket, <. So far what you have coded looks like this:
<HTML>
 
</HTML>
Nothing should actually be visible yet in the browser window until later when more HTML "tags" have been added.

The Head Section

After opening your document with <HTML> you will need to touch the Enter key to begin a new line and code <HEAD>. <HEAD> begins the HEAD section of the document, a part of the document above the BODY. The <HEAD> section contains a lot of information and a title but not the information nor the title which will appear on your actual Web page. No, the <HEAD> section contains information for search engines and document-finding, elements called META tags, which you will learn about much later. So, getting back to the basics, I want to begin another new line after you have coded the <HEAD>. The new line should be <TITLE>My First Web Page</TITLE>.(This is not the title that will be seen on your page but rather is the title which will be used by search "spiders", "robots", search engines. You can read more about search engines on the Searching the Internet page.) Begin a new line. Code </HEAD>. This closes the HEAD section. So far, (before anything has appeared on your Web "page", your first Web document looks like this:

 
<HTML>
<HEAD>
<TITLE>My First Page</TITLE>
</HEAD>
 
 
</HTML>
 
Do you see how the HEAD element begins and ends inside the shell of the beginning and ending HTML element. This is important: In any Web document the title (beginning and ending title tags and the information in between) is nested between the beginning and ending HEAD tags. Also, the HEAD section is nested between the beginning and ending HTML tags. The HEAD section is opened and closed before you can open the BODY section. It is the BODY section where "everything happens" that you view on a Web page. All of the coding is called a Web document and only what is actually viewed is called a Web page. Now that the </HEAD> has already been coded, let's move on to the BODY section.

The Body Section

Similar to the HTML element having an opening and a closing, and the HEAD element having an opening and a closing, so too does the BODY element have an opening and a closing. It is coded like this:
<BODY>
 
</BODY>

Whatever you now code into your document, (inside the shell of the body element) will be viewed on your Web page. So far your total coding in the text editor looks like this:

<HTML>
<HEAD>
<TITLE>My First Page</TITLE>
</HEAD>
<BODY>
 
</BODY>
</HTML>
Students new to HTML will often put the tags in the wrong order. To overcome this problem, I created the "HTML Snow/Penguin" to help me remember the order of the tags when I first took an HTML class. Here is my HTML Snow/Penguin:

HTMLpenguin to recall the HTML template
The above blue coding is the completed HTML document template. Every HTML page you create will come from this basic outline or template. Remember that the Document title (which is not viewed) goes in the HEAD section. It is for the search engines and spiders so your page can be indexed.  Notice that I left some space between <BODY> and </BODY>. I just happen to like a little bit of extra space to work in when I am coding in the body section of any Web document. I might point out now that this "open space" between coded lines in HTML will not have open lines on the viewed page because the browser converts all "white space" into a single space. In other words, I could double-space or triple-space all of my lines of coding but the browser will not show double-spacing nor triple-spacing. The extra spaces that you create with the space bar or the Enter key are "ignored" by the browser, EXCEPT for one single space. It is NOT TRUE that the browser "ignores white space in the document" or allthewordswouldruntogether. So you see, the browser is honoring one empty white space between words. I cannot get two or three spaces between words unless I code one extra non-breaking space, &nbsp; for each space extra I want.
Let's put something inside the BODY section so that you can view it with your browser.

Making A Title

A title (in the BODY section) for your first Web page is coded like this:
<H1>My First Web Page</H1>
If the title is too simple in the example for your liking just substitue a title of your own -- I just used this as an example. Here, take a peek at what it would look like in a regular Web page the way it is currently coded.
 
I would really like to have the title centered. I could do this in one of two ways. The older HTML 3.2 specification allows the use of <CENTER> before the title and before the <H1>. After the title and after the </H1> you would then close the </CENTER>
Here is the code:
<HTML>
<HEAD>
<TITLE>My First Web Page</TITLE>
</HEAD>
<BODY>
<CENTER><H1>My First Web Page</H1></CENTER>

 
</BODY>
</HTML>
Take a look at the new example #2 with the title now centered.
 
The newer technologies of HTML 4.0 require that you do NOT use the <CENTER></CENTER> tags but use <DIV ALIGN="center"> and </DIV> in place of the centering pair of "tags". (See code below):
<HTML>
<HEAD>
<TITLE>My First Web Page</TITLE>
</HEAD>
<BODY>
<DIV ALIGN="center"><H1>My First Web Page</H1></DIV>

 
</BODY>
</HTML>
Whether your code is single spaced or double-spaced or has any extra space at all does NOT matter because the browser ignores any extra spacing within the coded HTML document. I often place extra space between paragraphs or between page sections that I am coding within the document just so that my code will be easier to read and to edit when I come back to it later.
 
Now you have learned that the use of <CENTER> with </CENTER> is the older way to center text in an HTML document and that the same result will be obtained by using the newer <DIV ALIGN="center"> with </DIV>.
 

Making A Background Color

Now let's make a background color for your page. This is something new because now you are going to have to type an attribute inside the BODY element and you will give the attribute a value. It sounds difficult but I will explain it a step at a time. An attribute is just something additional than enhances the way the browser views an element.
 
Color Charts of RGB values

 
Note:
When I use the term "HTML element" I am referring to the sum of the opening "tag", the contents of the page between the opening and closing "tag" and the actual closing "tag" itself. "Tag" is just a slang expression used my many HTML coders to refer to what's between the angle brackets: < >. A "paragraph element" begins with <P>, has content, and ends with </P>.
 
The BODY element began with <BODY>. Using your text editor, place the blinking cursor (I-beam) between the Y and the right angle bracket. Space once and type BGCOLOR="" then allow the right angle bracket to close this attribute for BACKGROUND COLOR. You used double quotes, I hope. Between the double quotes you will place either an accepted named color, such as red, white, blue, green, yellow, goldenrod, cornsilk, etc. OR you will have to look up some RGB Color Values for HTML Authors values which each begin with an octothorp (#). Find a color you like from one of these Color Charts of RGB Color Values for now. When your typing of that BODY tag is completed and has a color value such as <BODY BGCOLOR="cornsilk"> or <BODY BGCOLOR="#FF6342">, you will need to save the file changes in your text editior, File,Save. When you return to the browser you will need to either click on Refresh or Reload to "renew" the browser window to show the new changes you made in the Editor program. Once you renew the browser window, you should now see your page with a background color. I made a page with a "cornsilk" background to show you. Click here to see it. I coded <BODY BGCOLOR="cornsilk">. You will want to use the RGB Hexidecimal Color Values when you get particular about wanting a certain specific color on your web page.
 
Free background textures

Saving The File

When you are through typing code into your simple text editor such as NotePad or SimpleText, save the file by selecting Save As and naming the file firstpage.html. Before selecting a location to save this file to, be sure to change the text selection under the file name to the setting that says "All Files". You will need to put .html at the end of the filename such as naming it firstpage.html. Select a location such as a floppy disk on the A: drive. Do NOT SAVE as text but select ALL files. Again, Click on File in NotePad or another simple text editor. Select SaveAs.
 
(Once the file has been initially saved the very first time, do not use SaveAs anymore, but use File, Save for all subsequent saving. You should also save your work about every 5 minutes to prevent any unexpected data loses from power problems.)
BEFORE clicking on OK to save the file, be sure the first time it is saved that you change the text setting (line under the file name in the SaveAs dialog box of the Windows 95/98 Operating System) to "All Files". You will be saving this as All Files so you have to include the .html extension as part of your filename. Select a location to save it to such as the A:\ floppy disk. Now Click on OK to save it. Once it is saved, close the file.

Open And View The File

Now open your browser window while you are not on-line. Click on File, Open. Select Browse. Select the A: drive or the location where you saved your firstpage.html file. Double click on it or select open. (Let your browser open the file.) When done correctly you should be able to view the title of your first web page.
 
Note:
An alternate and easier way to open the file for viewing by the browser is just to double click on the filename from Windows Explorer. Windows Explorer will automatically open a browser to view the document you just saved. If you did not close that document after saving it you will get an error when you try to open it in the browser window. Once your Web page appears in the Internet Explorer browser window you can edit it by selecting View, Source from the browser menu bar. I caution you that you cannot edit a file when online and the file is being delivered to your browser from a Web server. You can only edit files on your own computer such as from the floppy disk. Save any changes to your document and switch back to the browser to click on either REFRESH or RELOAD before your changes will be visible.
 
Only the first time you saved this file did you use SaveAs. When you can see your title in the browser window, I want you to try to click on View, then Source in order to see the text editor coding of your HTML document. When you type something new into this NotePad and SimpleText file (the simple text editor file), you are to select File, Save for each subsequent change or addition to your code. If you only have two files open, your browser and the simple text file, you may use the shortcut of Alt + Tab to toggle back and forth between the browser window and the text editor coding. In order to see typed coding changes after you have saved the changes with File, Save you will need to toggle back with ALT + tab (windows users) and in the browser menu bar, select Refresh or the Reload option in order to refresh the browser window. Without refreshing or reloading the window, your saved changes will not be seen. Once you begin coding your HTML document, you will SAVE and REFRESH or RELOAD after each change, to see how the change looks. All of this is done off-line using your browser in the off-line mode. You do not need to be on the Internet to write HTML documents and to view them.
 
The next lesson about formatting text is quite a bit easier.
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Updated 04 February 2009
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