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 web content are built and driven by code.

It is inevitable, then, that at some point, you will probably need something done for your business online, for your web site, or in your pages that requires having some knowledge of code.

HTML is one of the main “code” languages that is used to build the world wide web, websites, blog pages and formatting 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 an easy-to-use, built-in web editor that allows you to create and easily format content just by clicking on a few buttons.

As you will learn below, having a little HTML knowledge can be useful when writing, editing or formatting content in your WordPress website or blog. Knowing a little bit of HTML can also save you time and money.

A Beginner's Guide To HTML For WordPress Users

You don’t need to know HTML to use WordPress, but having some practical familiarity with HTML can be very useful as a WordPress user!

A Practical Guide To HTML Formatting Tags For WordPress Dummies – Tutorial

If you plan to manage your own web presence, it’s handy to have some practical HTML knowledge when creating, changing or formatting content for your WordPress-powered site.

Imagine this:

  • You want to make changes to your existing content, insert a text link and an image in an area of your sidebar, or direct visitors to your contact form, newsletter subscription page, etc. If you know basic HTML, you can do this very easily without assistance from others.
  • You outsource work to a web copywriter and get back files that contain HTML formatting. Knowing a little HTML helps you better proof the content before you sign off on the work.
  • Someone else creates your articles or web pages. You see a couple of basic mistakes in the text, like a passage that could have been made bold, or a hyperlink that is missing in your text. Having some knowledge of HTML can help you correct simple things in your pages or posts very quickly without having to go and ask (or pay) a webmaster, a web designer, or someone else to do it for you.
  • You need to discuss new project with a web developer. Knowing some basic HTML not only will help you communicate more effectively with web developers and web designers, it can also help you better negotiate projects with technical service providers.

HTML Formatting Tags Basics For WordPress Beginners

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!

HTML – A Basic Definition

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

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Important: Like all things online, HTML is also subject to frequent changes, and sometimes these changes will no doubt affect 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 keep up with new advances in software and browser technology. As several tags used in older and even recent versions of WordPress get phased out of HTML5, you should expect that WordPress will also keep updating its core application to ensure compatibility with industry-wide standards.

How To Use HTML Formatting Tags In WordPress

WordPress gives users the choice of adding content to your posts and pages with 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 web languages (e.g. Javascript) when creating or editing your content …

WordPress Text Editor

Built-In WP HTML Editor

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We cover the WordPress Visual Editor and how to add content to posts and pages in other tutorials.

HTML Tags WordPress Allows You To Use In Pages And Posts

The WordPress Content Management System (CMS) allows you to insert most common HTML tags, including the ones listed in the table below:

Common HTML - WordPress

WordPress HTML Formatting Tags

Here are a few practical content formatting examples using some of the HTML tags displayed above …

HTML Tags Usage In WordPress

HTML Formatting Tags Tutorial

Useful Tip

To learn more about using HTML, see the free tutorials in the website below:

The WordPress HTML (Text) Editor Explained

The WordPress Text Editor lets you insert, edit and work directly with HTML and other web languages (e.g. Javascript) when inputting content into posts and pages.

By default, the WordPress Text (HTML) Content Editor comes with a standard set of buttons in its menu …

WordPress HTML (Text) Editor

WordPress Text Content Editor Features

Below is a brief description of the function of each of the Text Editor buttons with their corresponding HTML formatting tag (see the screenshot above):

  1. b: <strong></strong> Use this HTML tag for strong text emphasis (i.e. bold).
  2. i : <em></em> Use this HTML tag to italicize text.
  3. hyperlink: <a href="http://example.com"></a> Choosing this button adds a hyperlink to any highlighted text.
  4. b-quote – <blockquote></blockquote> Select this menu button to quote or cite selected text.
  5. del: <del></del> Use this HTML tag to mark text that has been deleted from the current content. Many web browsers will typically display this as strikethrough text.
  6. ins: <ins></ins> This HTML tag is used to highlight text considered inserted into a page or post. Most web browsers will typically display this as underlined text.
  7. img: src="http://www.yourdomain.com/img/image.jpg" alt="image description" /> This HTML tag lets you insert an image into your post or page and add an “alt” tag (a text description of your image in case the image is not displayed in your visitor’s screen. Note: you can also use the “Add Media” button (15) to insert an image into your content.
  8. ul: <ul></ul> Click this button to insert an unordered list into your post. Unordered lists typically display as a list of items preceded by bullets. Note: use this tag with the <li> tag (see below) in order for bullet lists to work properly.
  9. ol: <ol></ol> This HTML tag is used to insert a numbered list. Items in an ordered list are typically numbered (just like the list you are seeing right now!). Note: this formatting tag needs to be used with the <li> tag (see below) in order for bullet lists to work.
  10. li: <li></li> Select this menu button 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> Select this menu button 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. missing text). Note: content enclosed in 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--> Use this function to break your blog post into “teaser” and main content sections. For example, if you add a few paragraphs, then insert the “more” tag and add the remainder of your post content, users will only be able to read the first paragraphs of your post with a hyperlink (e.g. continue reading…), which will display the rest of the post’s content if clicked on.
  13. close tags – Closes any open HTML tags left in your content. Note: proof your content after using this function to ensure that all tags have correctly formatted your text.
  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 “full screen” mode. Click the button again to return to the normal text editor mode.
  15. Add Media – Click this button to insert media into your content (e.g. images, videos, audio files). This button appears whether you’re using the Visual or Text editor tabs.

Distraction-Free Writing Mode

Click on “Distraction-Free Writing Mode” [#14] and everything but your editor fades away, leaving only the content you’re working on showing in your screen.

Some Useful Tips About Using HTML In WordPress

HTML Content Editors

If you plan to learn and use HTML, there are several Free HTML software applications that you can download and use when getting started.

A popular free HTML editor software tool, for example, is KompoZer.

Kompozer

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 in this application, then use plugins that let you insert code into your WordPress posts or pages.

Another option, if you don’t want to touch any code at all or use an external HTML content tool, is to use a WordPress plugin that lets you build content inside WordPress itself.

Thrive Content Builder

Thrive Content Builder

To learn more about this plugin, see this article:

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

Useful Tip: Adding Formatted Content To The “About Yourself” Text Box In Your User Profile

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

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

WordPress Visual/Text Editor

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

Let’s show you an example, so you can see how simple this can be.

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

Link To Author Page In WordPress Blog Post

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

WordPress Author Archives Section

Note: As the above screenshot illustrates, you can add links and simple text formatting like bold and italicized text to enhance your author profile and promote yourself, your products and services, social media pages, other sites you own, etc. to all of your blog readers …

Author Profile

The author profile is located in the About Yourself > Biographical Info field within your User Profile section …

About Yourself

Although the Biographical Info text area allows you to 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 area, or create it in an HTML editor, then copy and paste content with the HTML already embedded in it …

About Yourself

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

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

In this case, we want to create an author description

Creating An Author Description

Next, format the content inside the Visual Editor tab. Please note that you can only use simple formatting in your author description such as hyperlinks, bold, underline and italicized text, so keep things simple – use bold, italics and anchor text hyperlinks sparingly over one or two paragraphs to explain who you are and what you do, and include a useful link for your readers …

Creating An Author Description

Keep working in the Visual Editor tab until you have added all of the formatting you want to display in your author profile content …

Author Description

After composing your content, switch over to the Text Editor and copy everything to your clipboard …

Creating An Author Description

Go to your profile by selecting Users > Your Profile from the main menu …

User Profile Screen

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

About Yourself

Remember to click the Update Profile button to save your changes …

Update Profile Button

Congratulations … You have just created an author promo for your blog 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.

Tip

HTML Tips

Tip #1 – If you would like to add more complex formatted elements to your content (e.g. highlighted segments, pricing boxes, etc.) without learning HTML, you can use cut & paste HTML snippets …

Save time using cut & paste HTML resources

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 enhance the function of your WordPress Text Editor using various plugins.

For example:

WordPress HTML

WordPress HTML - Plugin For WP

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

WordPress HTML

WordPress HTML. (Screenshot source: plugin website)

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

Extensible HTML Editor Buttons

WP Plugin - Extensible HTML Editor Buttons

Extensible HTML Editor Buttons is a free WP plugin you can add to your blog that lets you 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 …

WP Plugin - Extensible HTML Editor Buttons

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

Here is another free plugin you can use …

Raw HTML

Raw HTML - WP Plugin

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, you can wrap any section of your post in [raw]…[/raw] tags, preventing WordPress from converting newlines to HTML paragraphs, replacing apostrophes with typographic quotes and so on. This is very useful if you need to add JavaScript or a CSS block to your post.

Raw HTML

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 tags correctly in the Text Tab, not in the Visual Editor.

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

Troubleshooting HTML Formatting Errors

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

Troubleshooting HTML Formatting 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).

So:

  • <(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 the code in 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 WordPress User): By default, WordPress does not allow a number of HTML tags to be used (e.g. codes such as iframe, 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 …

Disabling the WordPress visual editor

After disabling the visual editor and updating your profile settings, go back to your page or post and reinsert the content with the problematic HTML tags, then republish your post.

If the above suggestion fixes the issue, go back to the Profile screen, reactivate your Visual Editor, and check if the HTML code is still working fine with the visual editor restored.

Tip

Note: If the above suggestion doesn’t fix the issue and you still continue to experience problems adding HTML code to your site, then you should look at other options. This may include:

  • Asking someone with experience troubleshooting WordPress errors to help you
  • Searching the WordPress Support Forum or WordPress troubleshooting resources for probable causes and solutions
  • Reinstalling your WordPress application (i.e. performing a clean WP installation)
  • Contacting your web hosting company for help

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

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"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