From the format of the text messages you send to the location of the links you select, crucial components of your online experience only work thanks to HyperText Markup Language (HTML).
A March 2022 web technology survey from W3Techs shows that about 94% of websites rely on HTML as the foundation for their structure and appearance. With an online presence essential for today’s businesses, learning the markup language that helps make the most of a corporate site’s display and performance can give you an advantage in the job market.
HTML works in tandem with programming and other technological languages to make websites and other online features operate efficiently. But if HTML is such an important component of creating an online presence, how do you learn it? And how long does it take to learn HTML?
Learning the basics of HTML can take as little as a few weeks, but mastery can take much longer. HTML is a key part of typical online coding education programs, which can prepare you for a host of technology-focused careers. Whether you’re considering a coding bootcamp or another approach to learning HTML, you’ll want to investigate:
What Is HTML?
HyperText Markup Language (HTML) is a markup language, not a programming language. That means it primarily governs the appearance of content, while programming languages direct the actions of a variety of technological tools, and are more advanced and interactive in nature than HTML. But that doesn’t make HTML any less important in the operation of online tools.
Hypertext is text that links to other text, and a markup language is a coding language used to create a series of instructions that guide the style and setup of a web page or online application. Through a series of characters or spaces called elements, HTML dictates how text and other items on a web page look or act. A string of HTML elements forms a complete HTML-driven web page.
When you see a picture on a website with text surrounding it, for example, it’s likely that HTML is what’s instructing that text to wrap around the image. HTML code makes headlines larger and bolder than the rest of the text on the page, and provides descriptive text so users with visual impairments can understand what images show.
Parts of an HTML Element
There are three components that, together, comprise an HTML element. HTML elements provide instructions regarding how text, images, hyperlinks, and other elements of a web page look and function for the user. The following are the main parts of an HTML element.
An opening tag’s characters note the beginning of the style or action the HTML is directing, using angle brackets to set off the symbol for that element. A tag of
at the start of text, for example, applies a paragraph element, indicating the beginning of a paragraph.
The content portion of an HTML element refers to the material that appears to the user in the style designated by the HTML code. Some elements designate appearance or behavior that contains no content visible to the user; these elements are called empty elements.
A closing tag’s characters note the end of the designated style. These tags contain a forward slash preceding the element symbol inside the angle brackets. In the paragraph example, the tagwould indicate the end of the paragraph.
Elements can also have attributes, which provide additional information about the element through symbols that show characteristics called name and value. Attributes can dictate characteristics like text color and font, for example. Attributes within an HTML element contain:
One attribute might guide the way a hyperlink will appear when a user selects it. The target attribute—target=“_blank”—instructs the link to open in a new tab, for example.
If you’re applying HTML code to indicate an element within content that already has an element guiding its appearance, that element is called a nesting element. In the paragraph example, a word within that paragraph might appear in boldface or italics, or a hyperlink to another page might be included.
Once HTML establishes the foundation for a website’s basic structure, CSS builds on those instructions to ensure the content appears as intended. CSS provides higher-level guidance, offering intricate elements and advanced actions.
Like HTML, CSS is not a programming language. Instead, CSS is a style sheet language that allows you to assign additional styling to different areas, called boxes. You can use CSS to provide color or background images to a web page or to establish a different default text font, for example.
CSS also instructs a website on how its appearance should adapt to the screens of different types of devices.
How to Learn HTML
The process for learning HTML begins with general computer literacy and an understanding of how to work with the files you’ll use when building a website. As for how long it takes to learn HTML, that depends on the level of complexity you’re seeking in your web development knowledge.
Learning HTML typically takes a few weeks to a few months, depending on the level of expertise you want to achieve. Staying abreast of updates to HTML and other web development tools requires continuous learning, however.
5 Steps for Learning HTML
To learn HTML you typically need to have some basic hardware and software. Among those tools are:
Basic HTML education generally teaches lessons through five steps covering the following topics:
Learning Advanced HTML
Advanced HTML training goes beyond the standard tags to incorporate elements that direct additional formatting. This advanced training can add to the length of your training.
Following are some advanced HTML-directed formatting options:
What Can You Do with HTML?
HTML is the backbone of websites for businesses, media organizations, online retailers, and schools. Simply put, without HTML, the internet couldn’t function the way it does. But the markup language is more than just the foundation of web pages and online-based emails and newsletters. HTML also can be used for a variety of tasks that enhance web applications. Here are some examples of what you can do with HTML.
HTML can guide the building of games for personal computers, smartphones, smart televisions, and tablets. Through HTML commands, you can also advertise and promote games, accept payments, and collect user data.
HTML commands can facilitate features like to-do lists, online shopping carts, and user data storage. They can allow for data or image storage within a single user session or for multiple visits to a website.
An HTML element can direct the navigation of websites. Indexes, menus, and tables of contents can operate based on instructions created through HTML.
HTML code can provide image descriptions that cater to users who have visual impairments and rely on assistive technology to explore a website’s images. HTML elements can also make a website’s links, forms, buttons, and multimedia players more accessible to those with disabilities.
HTML Coding Examples
As you examine the ins and outs of learning HTML, consider some of the elements that you’ll likely learn as you work to master the language:
Headings make a web page’s content easier to navigate for users and for screen readers that assist those with challenges that cause reading difficulties. They break up sections of text, like an outline. The main heading serves as the headline that describes the purpose of the content, and subheads break up the text beneath the main heading.
The HTML tags for headings range from the opening tag ofand closing tag ofto the opening tag ofand closing tag of, with headings used in descending order of text size. Each page generally has a singlemain heading with smaller heading sizes that break up the subsequent text.
Placing content in paragraphs on a web page is another way to make it easier for users and assistive devices to navigate. Browsers automatically separate paragraphs with a single line. The opening tag for the paragraph element is
, and the closing tag is.
HTML code can direct the placement of images such as photos or animated art on a web page. The tag embeds the image. Attributes can provide additional details, including text that describes the image in case a browser doesn’t display an image or a user cannot see it clearly.
HTML-designated elements for text help indicate the purpose and structure of sections of text. They enhance readability and improve search engine rankings for web content. For example, a
tag indicates a long quote that is indented; atag designates a caption for a photo or other image; and an