A Basic Guide To HTML For WordPress Users

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

Using HTML In WordPressThe web, your website, your web pages and even your web content are built and powered by code.

It is inevitable, then, that at some point, you will 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 power the web, websites, web pages and even your web content.

You don’t have to know HTML in order 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 allows you to compose and easily format content just by clicking on a few menu buttons.

In this post you will learn the basic HTML codes you can use in WordPress.

HTML For Non-Technical WordPress Users

You don’t need to learn HTML in order to use WordPress, but having some basic knowledge of HTML is really useful as a WordPress user!

A Basic Guide To Formatting Content With HTML For WordPress Newbies – Tutorial

If you plan to run your own website, it’s useful to have a little bit of knowledge of HTML when creating, changing or formatting content in your WordPress-powered website.

For example, let’s say that:

  • You would like to make changes to your existing content, insert a text link and an image to a section of your sidebar, or direct visitors to the contact form, opt-in form, etc. If you know basic HTML, you can do this very quickly without having to pay someone else to do this for you.
  • You outsource some content writing to a freelance copywriter and receive back files that contain HTML code. Having some knowledge of HTML helps you understand the work before you accept and pay for the work.
  • Someone else creates your web content. You spot a couple of mistakes in the text, like a word or phrase that could have been made bold, or a hyperlink that has not been added to your text. Having a little knowledge of HTML can help you fix simple things in your pages or posts very quickly without needing to ask (or pay) a webmaster, a web designer, or someone else to do it for you.
  • You need to discuss new project with a website development team. Knowing a little HTML not only helps you communicate more effectively with web developers and web designers, it can also help you feel and sound more confident and knowledgeable when discussing your ideas or making requests for changes to your website.

A Beginner's Guide To HTML Tags For WordPress Users

You don’t need to become a code-loving web developer – just have enough knowledge of 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

Important

Important: Like everything in the digital realm, HTML is also subject to frequent changes, and sometimes these changes will no doubt affect 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 the latest advances in software and web browser technology. As several older tags become obsolete, you can expect that WordPress will also continue to update its core application in order to ensure compatibility with industry-wide coding standards.

How To Use HTML Tags To Format Content In Your Pages And Posts

WordPress provides you with a option of adding content to posts and pages 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 web languages (e.g. Javascript) when creating or editing your content …

WP HTML Editor

WordPress Text Content Editor

Important

We discuss the WordPress Visual Editor and how to add content to pages and posts in other ”how to” articles.

What HTML Formatting Tags Can Be Inserted Into WordPress?

The WordPress Text editor allows you to insert many widely-used HTML tags, including the ones shown below:

Common HTML Formatting Tags - WordPress

HTML Tags Allowed In WordPress

Below are some simple text formatting examples using a number of the HTML tags displayed in the table above …

HTML Usage In WordPress - Examples

Using HTML Formatting Tags In WordPress

Tip

To learn more about using HTML, visit the site below:

The WordPress HTML (Text) Editor Menu Explained

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

Out of the box, the WordPress Text Content Editor displays a standard set of menu features …

WordPress HTML (Text) Content Editor Menu Features

WordPress Text Content Editor Menu Buttons

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

  1. b: <strong></strong> Use this button if you want to make text bold.
  2. i : <em></em> Use this HTML tag for text emphasis (i.e. italicize).
  3. hyperlink: <a href="http://example.com"></a> Use this HTML tag to add a hyperlink to any selected text.
  4. b-quote – <blockquote></blockquote> Use this HTML tag for quoted or cited text.
  5. del: <del></del> This HTML tag is used to highlight text considered as having been deleted from your content. Most web browsers will typically display this as strikethrough text.
  6. ins: <ins></ins> Use this HTML tag to label text that has been inserted into a page or post. Most 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” description (a text description of your image in case the image is not rendered in your visitor’s web browser. Note: you can also use the “Add Media” button (15) to insert images into your content.
  8. ul: <ul></ul> Click this button to insert an unordered list into your content. Unordered lists normally display as a list of items preceded by bullets. Note: use this formatting 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 generally numbered (just like the list you are reading right now!). Note: use this tag together with the <li> tag (see below) in order for bullet lists to display correctly.
  10. li: <li></li> This HTML tag is used 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. missing text). Note: content inserted within the <code> tags generally will display using a preformatted styling of text, such as a monospaced font like Courier. (See the “Tips” section below for more details).
  12. more: <!--more--> This button breaks your post into “teaser” and main body areas. For example, if you add a few paragraphs, then add the “more” tag and add the remaining section of your post content, users will only be able to read the first couple of paragraphs of your post with a hyperlink (e.g. continue reading…), which will bring up the rest of the post when clicked on.
  13. Close Tags – This button closes any open HTML tags left open. Note: proof your content after using this feature to ensure that all HTML tags have formatted your text correctly.
  14. 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 “distraction-free” writing mode. Click the button again to revert to the normal 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

Distraction-Free Writing Mode [#14]

Some Useful Tips Related To Using HTML Formatting In WordPress

HTML Content Editors

If you plan to go beyond just knowing the basics of HTML, like simple text formatting, there are several Free or inexpensive HTML software applications that you can download and use when getting started.

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

Kompozer

Kompozer – Free 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 WordPress.

Another option, if you don’t want to touch any code at all or use an external HTML content builder, is to use a WordPress plugin that lets you build HTML 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 tags into areas of your WordPress site other than your posts or pages (e.g. your sidebar, author profile, etc.), then refer to the quick tutorial below for a very simple solution that involves spending no extra time downloading HTML-editing software.

Quick Tutorial: Adding Formatted Text To The “About Yourself” Section Of Your User Profile

In your WordPress site, there are places like ”widgets” in your sidebar, or the “About Yourself” text area in your User Profile screen that allow you to insert HTML.

These sections, however, don’t come with their own 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 Content Editor

You can still use the WordPress Visual editor to compose HTML-formatted text, and then simply paste it into these other areas.

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

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

Author Page Link In WordPress Post

Link To Author Page In WordPress Post

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

WordPress Author Archives Section

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

Author Profile

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

About Yourself

Although the Biographical Info text area lets you add HTML-formatted content, it doesn’t have a content editor, so you have to either know how to type HTML code directly into the text field, or create it elsewhere, then copy and paste it in …

About Yourself

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 description

Creating An Author Description

Next, format your content inside the Visual Editor tab. 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 the formatting simple – use bold, italics and text links sparingly over one or two paragraphs to explain who you are and what you do, and include a useful link to help your readers further engage with you and your business …

Creating An Author Description

Keep working in the Visual Editor screen until you have written your author profile content …

Author Description

When you are happy with your author description, 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 admin 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

Click the Update Profile button to save your changes …

Update Profile Button

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

Author Profile

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

As we’ve mentioned a number of times, you don’t have to know HTML to use WordPress, but it can be useful to have a little basic knowledge of HTML.

Tip

HTML Tips

Tip #1 – If you want to add more complex design elements to your content (e.g. highlighted segments, review tables, etc.) without learning HTML, you can use cut & paste HTML tools …

Save time using cut & paste HTML tools

Save time using cut & paste HTML tools

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

Tip #2 (Advanced WP User): You can expand the functionality of your WordPress Text Editor using several WordPress plugins.

For example:

WordPress HTML

WordPress HTML

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

WordPress HTML

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

Pasting HTML directly into your WordPress editor will often break various elements and corrupt the HTML. By pasting the code into the plugin’s custom fields dialogue boxes, you can output HTML to your page or post.

Extensible HTML Editor Buttons

WP Plugin - Extensible HTML Editor Buttons

Extensible HTML Editor Buttons is a WP plugin you can add to your site that allows you to have better control of settings for HTML tags like div and span, and add custom buttons and extra functions to your text editor …

Extensible HTML Editor Buttons - WordPress Plugin

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

Here is another free WordPress plugin you can use …

Raw HTML

Raw HTML - WordPress Plugin

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.

With this plugin, any part 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 need to add a CSS block or JavaScript to your content.

Raw HTML - Plugin For WordPress

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 Tab, not in the Visual Editor.

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

Troubleshooting HTML Formatting Errors

This is what your text will look like when your post is published …

Troubleshooting WordPress HTML Errors

You can see the problem if you switch 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 into the Text Editor …

Troubleshooting HTML Formatting Errors

Now … when your post is published, you should find that your text formatting is correct …

Troubleshooting HTML Formatting Errors

Tip #4 (Advanced WP User): By default, WordPress doesn’t allow some HTML tags to be used (e.g. codes such as embed, input 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 …

Disabling the WordPress visual editor

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

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

Useful Tip

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. performing a new installation)
  • Contacting your web host for assistance

Congratulations! Now you know how to use basic HTML to format and style your content.

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"These tutorials have so much information and are easy to understand. If you use WordPress or plan to in the future these will help you with everything you need to know." - Valisa (Mesa, Arizona)