What is HTML and XHTML?

What is HTML and XHTML?To the newbie website designer, acronyms like HTML and XHTML can seem like strange and wild foreign languages that only people with the “tech” gene turned on can fathom. But they are not that hard to understand at all. And you certainly don’t need to undergo gene therapy to master them.

HTML stands for “HyperText Markup Language”. XHTML stands for “Extensible HyperText Markup Language”.

Yada. Yada. Yada.

Let’s find out what those actually mean.

HTML – Text on caffeine

First there was text… Then there was hypertext! Normal text can’t do anything but be read. But hypertext can actually DO more. What’s that? Be clicked (basically).

The “markup language” part of HTML is a kind of code — that really isn’t code — which is used to tell a browser how to display text. Here’s how to tell the difference between “markup language” and “code”:

Markup language, using a very simple tag structure, says to the browser “Hey! Make this text italic!” Code, on the other hand, consists of many lines of confusing words and symbols that actually tell the computer exactly HOW to make those words become italic.

See the difference?

There are two reasons why I’m telling you this. First: because many professional website designers get all up in arms when someone accidentally calls HTML “code” (I’m not one of them, though). And my personal favorite: “markup language” sounds much less complex and threatening than “code” does.

Here are some examples of the HTML markup language:

<h1> </h1> – These make a heading for you.

<p> </p> – These make a paragraph for you.

<em> </em> – This pair changes text to italics.

<strong> </strong> – This pair changes text to bold.

Simple, right? And not as hard as code!

Most tags come in pairs; an opening tag and a closing tag. You can tell which one is the closing tag because it has a “/” and it comes at the end.

To make some text bold using HTML all you have to do is surround that text with <strong></strong>. Like this:

<strong>This is bold text</strong>

Which produces this: This is bold text

Got it? Good! Moving on…

XHTML – Text on even more caffeine

XHTML is actually a combination of XML and HTML and has become the new standard for building websites. I won’t bore you to tears with the long history nor will I try to explain the advanced features of XHTML. It’s simply enough to say that when you are ready for the advanced features of XHTML, they will be waiting for you.

I’ll be teaching you XHTML

All of the lessons and tutorials on Newbie Website Design will actually be built using XHTML since the foundation of XHTML is HTML itself! This means that all of your websites can enjoy all the beauty that HTML has to offer and still be up-to-date with the latest standards.

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