A Basic Guide To HTML For WordPress Users

Learn basic HTML formatting you can use to format content in your posts and pages …

A Beginner's Guide To HTML For WordPress UsersThe web, your web site, your pages and even your content are all built and driven by a language of code.

It is inevitable, then, that sooner or later, you will run into a situation where you will need something done for your business online, for your website, or in your web pages that requires having coding knowledge.

HTML is one of the main “code” languages used to build the world wide web, websites, blog pages and also your content.

You don’t need 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 editor that lets you compose and easily format your content simply by clicking on a few buttons.

This article provides a practical reference guide for WordPress newbies containing most of the basic HTML codes you can use in your WordPress content.

Using Formatting Content Using HTML In WordPress

You don’t need to learn HTML in order to use WordPress, but having a bit of familiarity with HTML can be very useful as a WordPress user!

A Useful Guide To HTML Tags For WordPress Site Owners – Step-By-Step Tutorial

If you are managing your own web presence, it’s useful to have some knowledge of HTML when creating, changing or formatting content for your WordPress site.

Let’s say that:

  • You want to make changes to your existing content, add a text link and an image into a section of your sidebar, or direct your visitors to your contact form, opt-in form, etc. If you understand basic HTML, you can do this really quickly and easily without having to pay someone else to do this for you.
  • You outsource your content creation to a freelance article writer and receive back files containing formatted text. Having a little knowledge of HTML can help you better understand the content before you accept and pay for the work.
  • Someone creates your site’s content. You see a couple of text formatting errors, like a passage that should have been made bold, or a hyperlink pointing to the wrong destination. Having some knowledge of HTML will help you change and fix simple mistakes in your content without delay, and without needing to ask (or pay) a webmaster, a web designer, or someone else to do it for you.
  • You want to discuss changes on your site with a website developer. Having a little knowledge of HTML not only can help you communicate more effectively with web developers and web designers, it will also make you feel and appear more confident and knowledgeable when presenting ideas or making requests for changes to your website.

An HTML Tags Primer For WordPress Beginners

You don’t need to become a technical web programmer – just be familiar enough with basic HTML to be a “web-smart” business owner!

HTML – What Does It Mean?

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> and </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.

HTML elements form the building blocks of all websites. HTML allows images and objects to be embedded and can be used to create interactive forms. It provides a means to create structured documents by denoting structural semantics for text such as headings, paragraphs, lists, links, quotes and other items. It can embed scripts written in languages such as JavaScript which affect the behavior of HTML web pages.

Source: Wikipedia, HTML

Important Info

Important: Like all things online, HTML is also subject to frequent change, and sometimes these changes will no doubt have an impact on WordPress.

Currently, we are in version 5 of the HTML set of standards (also called HTML5), and this change has introduced a number of new “tags” to remain up-to-date with new advances in software and browser technology. As some of the tags used in older and even recent versions of WordPress become obsolete, you can expect that WordPress will also keep updating its software to remain compatible with industry-wide coding standards.

Using HTML Tags In Your WordPress Post Content

WordPress gives you the option of adding content to pages and posts using its rich Visual Editor (also called a WYSIWYG editor, which stands for What You See Is What You Get) and a Text Editor that allows you to add HTML code and other script languages (e.g. Javascript) when creating or editing your content …

Default WordPress Text Editor

Built-In WP HTML Editor


We discuss the WordPress Visual Editor and how to add content to posts and pages in separate tutorials.

What HTML Formatting Tags Can Be Inserted Into WordPress?

WordPress allows you to insert many common HTML tags, such as the following:

Common HTML Formatting Tags Allowed In WordPress

Commonly-Used HTML Tags

Here are a few useful content formatting examples that use a number of the HTML tags listed in the table above …

Using Common HTML In WordPress Content

Using HTML In WordPress Content

Practical Tip

To learn more about using HTML, go here:

WordPress Text Editor Menu Buttons

The WordPress Text Editor lets users see, edit and work directly with HTML code and other script languages (e.g. Javascript) when inputting content into posts and pages.

Out of the box, the WordPress Text Editor comes with a standard set of menu buttons already installed …

WordPress HTML (Text) Editor Menu Buttons

WordPress HTML (Text) Editor

Below is a brief description of what each of the buttons in the Text Editor menu does with their corresponding HTML tag (refer to the above screenshot):

  1. b: <strong></strong> Use this button to make text bold.
  2. i : <em></em> Use this button for emphasis of text (i.e. italicize).
  3. hyperlink: <a href="http://example.com"></a> Use this HTML tag to add a hyperlink to any highlighted text.
  4. b-quote – <blockquote></blockquote> Choose this button to quote or cite selected text.
  5. del: <del></del> Use this HTML tag to mark text considered deleted from the current post. Most browsers will typically display this as striked-through text.
  6. ins: <ins></ins> Use this HTML tag to indicate text that has been inserted into a post. Most browsers typically display this as underlined text.
  7. img: src="http://www.yourdomain.com/img/image.jpg" alt="image description" /> Select this button to insert an image into your post or page and add an “alt” tag (a text description of your image in case the image does not render in your visitor’s browser. Note: you can also use the “Add Media” button (15) to insert an image into your content.
  8. ul: <ul></ul> Use this HTML tag to insert an unordered list into your content. Unordered lists usually appear as a bulleted list of items. Note: this formatting tag needs to be used with the <li> tag (see below) in order for bullet lists to work.
  9. ol: <ol></ol> This HTML tag is used to insert a numbered list. Items in an ordered list are normally numbered (just like the list you are seeing right now!). Note: use this formatting tag with the <li> tag (see below) in order for bullet lists to work properly.
  10. li: <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).
  11. code: <code></code> This HTML tag is used to display code (like html 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: the content selected within the <code> tags usually will appear using a pre-formatted text style, such as a monospaced font like Courier. (See the “Tips” section below for more details).
  12. more: <!--more--> This function will break your post into “teaser” and ”rest of content” sections. For example, if you add one or two paragraphs, then add the “more” tag and add the rest of your post content, visitors will only see the first few paragraphs of your post and a hyperlink (e.g. continue reading…), which if clicked on, will then display the rest of the post’s content.
  13. Close Tags – Closes any open HTML tags left open. Note: proof your content after using this function to make sure that all tags have formatted your text correctly.
  14. Distraction-Free Writing Mode – click this button to work in “distraction-free” 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 “distraction-free” writing mode. Click the button again to revert to the normal text editor display.
  15. Add Media button – Click this button to insert media into your content (e.g. images, videos, audio files). This button displays for both the Visual and Text editors.

Distraction-Free Writing Mode

Click on “Distraction-Free Writing Mode” [#14] and everything but your editor fades away, removing all distractions from your screen.

Some Useful Tips Related To Using HTML Formatting In WordPress

HTML Content Builders

If you plan to go beyond the basics of HTML and use it more extensively, there are several Free HTML software tools you can download and use when getting started.

A popular free HTML software application, for example, is KompoZer.

Kompozer - Free HTML Editor

Kompozer – HTML Editor

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 any code or use an external HTML content tool, is to use a WordPress plugin that lets you build your HTML-based content inside WordPress itself.

Thrive Content Builder - WordPress Plugin

Thrive Content Builder

To learn more about this plugin, see this article:

If you have no need or desire for doing any kind of work that involves editing code, but would still like to be able to easily create, insert and format content containing HTML into areas of your WordPress site other than your posts and pages (e.g. your sidebar, author profile, etc.), then see the quick tutorial below for a really simple solution that involves spending no extra time downloading HTML software.

Useful Tip: Adding HTML-Formatted Content To The “About Yourself” Section Of Your Profile

In WordPress, there are some areas like text “widgets” in your sidebar, and the “About Yourself” text field in your User Profile screen that let you insert HTML-formatted content.

These areas, however, don’t come with a content editor like the WYSIWYG editor found in your Posts and Pages sections (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

WordPress Visual Editor

You can still use the WordPress Visual Content editor to create your HTML-formatted text, and then paste it into those areas.

Let’s go through an example, so you can see how this can easily be done.

By default, whenever you publish a post in WordPress, a link to the post author is displayed somewhere in your posts (i.e. at the bottom or top of the post) …

Author Page Link In WordPress

Link To Author Page In WordPress Post

Clicking on the author link takes visitors to the Author Archives section, where they can learn more about you (or other registered users) and see other articles that you (or other authors) have published …

WordPress Author Archives Section

Note: As you can see from the above screenshot, you can add hyperlinks and simple formatting like bold and italicized text to enhance your author bio box and promote yourself, your products, social media pages, other sites you own, etc. to site visitors …

Author Profile

The author description is located in the About Yourself > Biographical Info field inside your Profile area …

About Yourself

Although the Biographical Info text area 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 elsewhere, then copy and paste content with the HTML already embedded in it …

About Yourself

Let’s “paste the content” into this field using the simple method described below.

Create a new post and type your content in the Visual Editor.

In this case, we want to create an author promo

Creating An Author Description

Next, format the 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 links sparingly over one or two paragraphs to describe who you are and what you do, and remember to include a call to action to help readers engage further with you or your business …

Creating An Author Description

Continue working inside the Visual Editor screen until you have completed your author promo …

Author Description

When you are happy with your author bio, switch over to the Text Editor and copy everything to your clipboard …

Creating An Author Description

Next, go to your profile by selecting Users > Your Profile from the admin menu …

User Profile Screen

Scroll down to the About Yourself section and paste the content from your clipboard into the Biographical Info text box ….

About Yourself

Remember to click Update Profile to save your changes …

Update Profile Button

Congratulations … You have just created an author promo for your posts and formatted it using basic HTML!

Author Profile

To learn more about editing your profile settings, see this ”how to” article: How To Edit Your WordPress User Profile

As mentioned earlier, you don’t need to know HTML to use WordPress, but it can be useful to know the basics of HTML.

Practical Tip

HTML Tips For WordPress Users

Tip #1 – If you would like to add more complex styled elements to your content (e.g. section boxes, review tables, etc.) without learning HTML, you can use cut & paste HTML resources …

Save time using cut & paste HTML tools

Save time using cut & paste HTML resources

Learn about a time-saving “cut & paste” HTML resource we recommend here:

Tip #2 (Advanced WP User): You can expand the function of your WordPress Content Editor using a number of WordPress plugins.

For example:

WordPress HTML

WordPress HTML - WP Plugin

WordPress HTML allows you to add custom HTML to both the post and page body and head sections.

WordPress HTML - Plugin For WP

WordPress HTML – Plugin For WordPress. (Screenshot source: plugin website)

Pasting HTML directly into your WordPress editor can break various elements and corrupt the HTML. By entering the HTML code in the custom fields dialogue boxes, you can output HTML to your post or page.

Extensible HTML Editor Buttons

WordPress Plugin - Extensible HTML Editor Buttons

Extensible HTML Editor Buttons is a plugin you can add to your site that gives you better control of settings for HTML tags like div and span, as well as add custom buttons and additional functions to the text editor …

Extensible HTML Editor Buttons - WP Plugin

Extensible HTML Editor Buttons – WordPress Plugin. (Screenshot source: plugin website)

Here is another free WordPress plugin you can use …


Raw HTML - Plugin For WordPress

Raw HTML lets you disable automatic formatting like smart quotes and automatic paragraph creation, and use raw HTML/JS/CSS code in your WordPress posts.

With this plugin installed, any section of your post can be wrapped in [raw]…[/raw] tags, preventing WordPress from converting newlines to HTML paragraphs, replacing apostrophes with typographic quotes and so on. This is also very useful if you want to add a CSS block or JavaScript to your content.


Raw HTML. (Screenshot source: plugin website)

Tip #3 – Troubleshooting HTML Tag Errors: If your text formatting displays incorrectly after publishing your page or post, make sure that you have entered your HTML-formatted text correctly in the Text Tab, not in the Visual Tab.

For example, if you enter the following text in the Visual Content Tab …

Troubleshooting HTML Formatting Errors

This is what your text will look like when you publish your post …

Troubleshooting WordPress HTML Errors

You can see what is causing the problem by switching over to the Text Tab …

Troubleshooting HTML Formatting Errors

As you can see in the screenshot above, WordPress converts the symbols “<” and “>” into their HTML code equivalents (called ASCII characters).


  • <(open angled bracket) = “&lt;
  • >(closed angled bracket) = “&gt;

To preserve the symbols “<” and “>” intact and ensure that your text will format correctly, you need to paste your code into the Text Tab …

Troubleshooting HTML Formatting Errors

Now … when your post is published, you should find that your text has been formatted correctly …

Troubleshooting HTML Formatting Errors

Tip #4 (Advanced WP User): By default, WordPress doesn’t allow a number of HTML tags to be used (e.g. codes such as embed, object and others). This is for security reasons.

If you do experience any problems when adding commonly-used HTML tags into your content that are allowed to be used in WordPress, try disabling the visual editor in your user profile section …

Disabling the WordPress visual editor

After disabling the visual editor and updating your profile settings, return to your page or post 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 screen, reactivate your Visual Editor, and see if the HTML code is still working fine with the visual editor restored.


Note: If the above suggestion does not fix the issue and you continue experiencing problems adding HTML code to your content, 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 new site installation)
  • Contacting your web host for help

Congratulations! Now you know the basics of using HTML to format and style your content.


"This is AMAZING! I had learnt about how to use WordPress previously, but this covers absolutely everything and more!! Incredible value! Thank you!" - Monique, Warrior Forum