The web, your web site, your pages and even your content are built and powered by code.
It is inevitable, then, that sooner or later, you will probably need something done for your business online, for your website, or in your web content that will require having coding knowledge.
HTML is one of the “code” languages used to build the web, web sites, web pages and your web content.
You don’t have to learn HTML to use WordPress. WordPress has unique features like “themes”, “plugins” and “widgets” that let you manage your website without having to touch code, and a powerful, built-in visual content editor that lets you create and easily format your content just by clicking on a few menu buttons.
This article provides a useful reference guide containing basic HTML codes you can use to format content in your posts.
You don’t need to learn HTML in order to use WordPress, but having a little bit of familiarity with HTML can be really useful as a WordPress user!
A Beginner’s Guide To Using HTML In WordPress – Tutorial
If you plan to manage your own web presence, having a little understanding of HTML can help you save time and money in various ways.
- You want to make changes to your existing content, add formatted text and an image in a section of your sidebar, or direct your visitors to a contact page, newsletter subscription page, etc. If you know basic HTML, you can do this very quickly without having to pay somebody else to do this for you.
- You outsource content work to a web copywriter and receive back files containing HTML formatting. Knowing some basic HTML will help you better understand the content before you accept and pay for the work.
- Someone creates your articles or web pages. You see a couple of simple mistakes in the text, like a passage that could have been made bold, or a hyperlink that is missing in your text. Having a little knowledge of HTML will help you correct simple things in your blog posts very quickly without having to ask (or pay) a webmaster, a web designer, or someone else to do it for you.
- You need to discuss a project with your web designer. Having a little knowledge of HTML not only helps you communicate more effectively with web developers and web designers, it can also make you feel and appear more confident and knowledgeable when presenting ideas or requesting custom work to be done on your website.
You don’t need to become a code-loving web developer – just be familiar enough with basic HTML to be a “web-smart” business owner!
What Is HTML?
HTML is an acronym for HyperText Markup Language. According to Wikipedia’s definition of HTML …
HTML is the main markup language for creating web pages and other information that can be displayed in a web browser.
HTML is written in the form of HTML elements consisting of tags enclosed in angle brackets (like
<table>), within the web page content. HTML tags most commonly come in pairs like
</h1>, although some tags, known as empty elements, are unpaired, for example
<img>. The first tag in a pair is the start tag, the second tag is the end tag (they are also called opening tags and closing tags). In between these tags web designers can add text, tags, comments and other types of text-based content.
The purpose of a web browser is to read HTML documents and compose them into visible or audible web pages. The browser does not display the HTML tags, but uses the tags to interpret the content of the page.
Source: Wikipedia, HTML
Important: Like all things online, HTML is also subject to constant change, and some of these changes will no doubt have an impact on WordPress.
Currently, the latest version of HTML is version 5 (also called HTML5), and this change has introduced a number of new “tags” to keep up with new advances in software and browser technology. As several older tags become obsolete, you should expect that WordPress will also continue to update its core application to remain compatible with industry-wide HTML standards.
Using HTML Tags In WordPress
WordPress HTML Editor
We discuss the WordPress Visual Editor and how to add content to posts and pages in separate tutorials.
HTML WordPress Allows You To Use
The WordPress Content Management System (CMS) allows you to add various common HTML tags, including the tags below:
HTML – WordPress
The diagram below shows a few practical text formatting examples that use a number of the HTML tags listed in the table above …
HTML Usage In WordPress – Examples
To learn more about using HTML, go here:
The WordPress HTML (Text) Content Editor Menu Explained
Out of the box, the WordPress Text Content Editor comes with a standard set of buttons in its menu …
WordPress HTML (Text) Editor
Below is a brief description of the function of each of the Text Editor buttons with their corresponding HTML (refer to the above screenshot):
<strong></strong> Use this button if you want to make text bold.
- i :
<em></em> Use this button for text emphasis (i.e. italicize).
<a href="http://example.com"></a> Choosing this button adds a hyperlink to any highlighted text.
- b-quote –
<blockquote></blockquote> Choose this menu button to quote or cite text.
<del></del> This HTML tag is used to mark text that has been deleted from a page or post. Many browsers typically display this as strikethrough text.
<ins></ins> Use this HTML tag to highlight text considered as having been inserted into a page or post. Most web browsers will typically display this as underlined text.
src="http://www.yourdomain.com/img/image.jpg" alt="image description" /> Click this menu button to insert an image into your post or page and add an “alt” description (a text description of your image in case the image is not displayed in your visitor’s browser. Note: you can also use the “Add Media” button (15) to insert an image into your content.
<ul></ul> Select this menu button to insert an unordered list into your post. Unordered lists typically display as a bullet-list. Note: this formatting tag needs to be used with the
<li> tag (see below) in order for bullet lists to work.
<ol></ol> Use this HTML tag to insert a numbered list. Items in an ordered list are usually numbered (just like the list you are reading now!). Note: use this tag together with the
<li> tag (see below) in order for bullet lists to display properly.
<li></li> Use this HTML tag to insert or turn your selected text into a list item. (This tag should be used in conjunction with the ul or ol tag).
<code></code> Click this button to display code (like html formatting tags) in your text. If you don’t use these tags to surround the code you want to display, WordPress will convert your tags and you will get errors (e.g. broken text). Note: content selected within the
<code> tags generally will appear using a different text style, such as a monospaced font like Courier. (See the “Tips” section below for more details).
<!--more--> Use this menu button to break your blog post into “teaser” and ”rest of content” sections. For example, if you type one or two paragraphs, then insert this tag and add the remaining section of your post content, readers will only see the first couple of paragraphs of your post with a hyperlink (e.g. continue reading…), which if clicked on, will display the rest of the post’s content.
- Close Tags – This button closes any open HTML tags left in your content. Note: proof your content after using this feature to make sure that all HTML tags have correctly formatted your text.
- Distraction-Free Writing Mode – click this button to work in “distraction-free” writing mode (see screenshot example below). You can toggle between the Visual Editor and Text Editor modes, insert media and hyperlinks and update your content while in “full screen” mode. Click the button again to revert to the normal text editor mode.
- Add Media button – Click this button to insert media into your content (e.g. images, videos, audio files). This button appears whether you’re in the Visual or Text editor tabs.
With “Distraction-Free Writing Mode” [#14] everything but your editor fades away, removing all distractions from your screen.
Some Useful Tips Related To Using HTML In WordPress
HTML Content Builders
If you plan to use HTML extensively, there are several Free HTML software applications you can download and use when getting started.
For example, a popular HTML software tool you can download at no cost is KompoZer.
KompoZer is Free Open Source software built as a complete web authoring system that combines web file management and easy-to-use WYSIWYG web page editing. It’s designed to be extremely easy to use, especially for non-technical computer users who just want to create attractive, professional-looking web pages without needing to know HTML or web coding. You can build HTML-based content with this application, then use plugins that let you insert code into WordPress.
Another option, if you don’t want to mess around with code or use an external HTML content tool, is to use a WordPress plugin that lets you build HTML-based content inside WordPress itself.
Content Builder – WordPress Plugin
To learn more about this plugin, see this article:
If you have no need or desire for doing any kind of work that involves technical coding, but would still like to be able to easily create, insert and format content containing basic HTML tags into areas of your site other than your posts or pages (e.g. your sidebar, author profile, etc.), then see the quick tutorial below for a very simple solution that involves spending no extra time downloading HTML software.
Tutorial: How To Add HTML-Formatted Text To The “About Yourself” Text Box In Your Profile
In WordPress, there are locations like ”widgets” in your sidebar, and the “About Yourself” text box in your User Profile screen that allow you to insert content formatted with HTML.
These sections, however, don’t come with their own content editor like the Visual/Text editor found inside your Posts and Pages screens (Quick update: WordPress version 4.8 introduced rich text widgets that now let you format content inside the widget using a WYSIWYG editor) …
WordPress Visual Editor
You can still use the WordPress Visual editor to compose HTML-formatted text, and then simply paste it into those areas.
Let’s show you an example, so you can see how easily this can be done.
By default, whenever a post is published in your WordPress blog, a link to the author is displayed somewhere in your posts (i.e. at the bottom or top of the post) …
Author Page Link In WordPress
Clicking on the author link takes visitors to the Author Archives section, where site readers can learn more information about you (or other registered users) and browse other articles that you (or other authors) have published …
Note: As you can see from the above screenshot, you can add hyperlinks and simple text formatting like italics and bold text to enhance your author resource box and promote yourself, your products and services, social media pages, other online properties you own, etc. to blog readers …
The author resource box is located in the About Yourself > Biographical Info field in your User Profile section …
Although the Biographical Info text box lets you add HTML-formatted content, it doesn’t provide you with a content editor, so you have to either know how to type HTML code directly into the text box, or create it in an HTML editor, then copy and paste content with the HTML already embedded in it …
Let’s “paste the content” into this field using the method described below.
First, create a new post and type your content in the Visual Editor.
In this case, we want to create an author bio …
Next, format your content using the Visual Editor . Please note that you will only be able to use simple formatting in your author description such as hyperlinks, bold, underline and italicized text, so keep things simple – use bold, italics and text hyperlinks sparingly over one or two paragraphs to explain who you are and what you do, and include a useful link for your visitors …
Keep working in the Visual Editor screen until you have completed your author bio …
When you are happy with your author description, switch over to the Text Editor and copy everything to your clipboard …
Next, go to your profile area by selecting Users > Your Profile from your main navigation menu …
Scroll down to the About Yourself section and paste your content into the Biographical Info text area ….
Click the Update Profile button to save your changes …
Congratulations … You have just created an author promo for your posts and formatted it using basic HTML!
To learn more about editing your profile settings, refer to this ”how to” article: How To Edit Your WordPress User Profile
As we’ve already mentioned, you don’t need to know HTML to use WordPress, but it can be useful to know the basics of HTML.
HTML Tips For WordPress Users
Tip #1 – If you would like to add more complex design elements to your content (e.g. section boxes, pricing boxes, etc.) without learning HTML, you can use cut & paste HTML resources …
Save time using cut & paste HTML resources
Learn about a time-saving “cut & paste” HTML resource we recommend for non-technical WordPress users here:
Tip #2 (Advanced WordPress User): You can expand the functionality of your WordPress Text Editor using various WordPress plugins.
WordPress HTML lets you add custom HTML to both the page and post body and head sections.
WordPress HTML. (Screenshot source: plugin website)
Pasting HTML directly into your WordPress editor can often break various elements and corrupt the HTML. By pasting the HTML code into the plugin’s custom fields dialogue boxes, you can output HTML to your post or page.
Extensible HTML Editor Buttons is a free WP plugin you can add to your blog that allows you to have better control of settings for HTML tags like div and span, as well as adding custom buttons and extra functions to the text editor …
WordPress Plugin – Extensible HTML Editor Buttons. (Screenshot source: plugin website)
Here is another free plugin you can use …
Raw HTML lets you disable automatic formatting like automatic paragraph creation and smart quotes, and use raw HTML/JS/CSS code in your posts without WordPress messing it up.
Raw HTML – Plugin For WordPress. (Screenshot source: plugin website)
Tip #3 – Troubleshooting HTML Tag Errors: If your text formatting displays incorrectly after publishing your post or page, make sure that you have entered your HTML-formatted text correctly in the Text Editor, not in the Visual Editor.
For example, if you type the following text in the Visual Tab …
Your text will look like this when you publish your post …
You can see what is causing the problem by switching over to the Text Tab …
As you can see in the screenshot above, WordPress converts the symbols “<” and “>” into their HTML code equivalents (called ASCII characters).
- “<” (open angled bracket) = “<“
- “>” (closed angled bracket) = “>“
To preserve the symbols “<” and “>” intact and ensure that your text will format correctly, you need to paste the code into the Text Editor …
Now … when your post is published, you will find that your text formatting is correct …
Tip #4 (Advanced WordPress User): By default, WordPress doesn’t allow a number of HTML tags to be used (e.g. codes such as embed, form and others). This is for security reasons.
If you do experience any problems when adding commonly-used HTML tags to your content that are allowed to be used in WordPress, try disabling the visual editor in your user profile …
After disabling the visual editor and saving your profile settings, go back to your post or page and re-paste the content with the problematic HTML tags, then republish your post.
If the above suggestion fixes the issue, go back to the User Profile, reactivate your Visual Editor, and see if the HTML code is still working fine with the visual editor restored.
Note: If the above suggestion doesn’t fix the issue and you continue experiencing problems adding HTML code to your site, you may need to look at other options. This may include:
- Getting help from an experienced WordPress support service provider
- Searching the WordPress Support Forum or WordPress troubleshooting resources for possible causes and solutions
- Reinstalling your WordPress application (i.e. perform a clean site installation)
- Contacting your hosting provider for assistance
Congratulations! Now you know the basics of using HTML to format and style your content.
"I am beyond impressed with what you have put together. I can tell that you put a ton of hard work into building what you have. You have the absolute best content on WordPress I have ever seen!" - Robert T. Jillie