A Basic Guide To HTML For WordPress Users

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

HTML Tags Basics For Non-Technical WordPress UsersThe web, your web site, your pages and even your web content are all built and powered by code.

It is inevitable, then, that sooner or later, you will run into a situation where you will probably need something done for your business online, for your web site, or in your web pages that will require having knowledge of code.

HTML is one of the main “code” languages used to power the web, web sites, blog pages and also web content.

One of the best things about using WordPress is that you don’t need to learn HTML to create and format content for your site’s posts and pages. 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 editor that allows you to create and easily format content just by clicking on a few buttons.

This tutorial provides a useful reference guide containing basic HTML codes you should be familiar with to format your WordPress content.

Using HTML In WordPress

You don’t need to know HTML in order to use WordPress, but having a bit of HTML knowledge is very useful as a WordPress user!

A Beginner’s Guide To Using HTML Tags In WordPress – Tutorial

As stated at the beginning of this article, having a bit of HTML knowledge can be a useful thing when composing, changing or formatting content in your WordPress site.

Imagine this:

  • You would like to edit your existing content, insert a text link and an image to a section of your sidebar, or direct your visitors to the contact page, newsletter subscription page, etc. If you know basic HTML, you can do this really easily without having to pay somebody else to do this for you.
  • You outsource your content creation to a freelancer and get back files containing HTML formatting. Having some basic knowledge of HTML will help you better understand the content before you accept the work.
  • Someone creates your articles or web pages. You see a couple of mistakes in the text, like a passage that could have been made bold, or a hyperlink that is missing in your copy. Knowing some basic HTML can help you fix simple mistakes in your pages and blog posts without delay, and without having to ask (or pay) a webmaster, a web designer, or someone else to do it for you.
  • You need to discuss new project with your web development team. Knowing a little HTML not only will help you communicate more effectively with web developers and web designers, it also helps you feel and appear more confident and knowledgeable when discussing your ideas or making requests for changes to your site.

A Beginner's Guide To Using Formatting Content With HTML In WordPress

You don’t need to become a technical web geek – just have enough knowledge of HTML to be a “web-smart” business owner!

HTML – What Is It?

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

Useful Information

Important: Like everything else, HTML is 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 several new “tags” to remain up-to-date with new advances in web applications and web browser technology. As several tags used in older and even recent versions of WordPress are being phased out of HTML5, you can expect that WordPress will also continue updating its code in order to ensure compatibility with industry-wide standards.

Using HTML In Your WordPress Pages And Posts

WordPress gives users the choice of adding content to your posts and pages using its built-in 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 work directly with HTML code and other web languages (e.g. Javascript) when adding or editing your content …

WordPress Text Editor

WordPress HTML Content Editor

Important Info

We cover the WordPress Visual Editor and how to add content to pages and posts in separate articles.

What HTML Tags Can Be Inserted Into Posts And Pages?

WordPress lets you use many commonly-used HTML formatting tags, such as the ones below:

HTML Tags - WordPress

General HTML Tags

Here are a few simple content formatting examples using some of the HTML tags listed above …

HTML Formatting Tags Usage In WordPress

Using Common HTML Tags In WordPress

Practical Tip

If you are interested in learning some more HTML, see the free tutorials in the website below:

WordPress HTML (Text) Editor Features

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

Out of the box, the WordPress HTML (Text) Editor comes with a number of standard menu features …

WordPress HTML (Text) Content Editor Menu Buttons

WordPress Text Editor

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

  1. b: <strong></strong> Use this HTML tag for strong text emphasis (i.e. bold).
  2. i : <em></em> Use this button for emphasis of text (i.e. italicize).
  3. hyperlink: <a href="http://example.com"></a> Choosing this button adds a hyperlink to any selected text.
  4. b-quote – <blockquote></blockquote> Use this HTML tag for quoted or cited text.
  5. del: <del></del> Use this HTML tag to indicate text that has been deleted from a page or post. Most browsers typically display this as strikethrough text.
  6. ins: <ins></ins> Use this HTML tag to highlight text that has been inserted into a page or post. Many browsers 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 does not display in your visitor’s browser. Note: you can also use the “Add Media” button (15) to insert images into your content.
  8. ul: <ul></ul> This HTML tag is used to insert an unordered list into your content. Unordered lists usually display as a list of items preceded by bullets. Note: use this HTML tag with the <li> tag (see below) in order for bullet lists to display properly.
  9. ol: <ol></ol> Select this menu button to insert a numbered list. Items in an ordered list are typically numbered (just like the list you are seeing right now!). Note: this tag needs to be used with the <li> tag (see below) in order for bullet lists to work.
  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> Select 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 added inside the <code> tags typically will display using a pre-formatted styling of text, such as a monospaced font like Courier. (See the “Tips” section below for more details).
  12. more: <!--more--> This function breaks your post into “teaser” and main body areas. For example, if you add one or two paragraphs, then add this tag and add the rest of your post content, readers will only see the first few paragraphs of your post and a hyperlink (e.g. continue reading…), which will display the rest of your post when clicked on.
  13. Close Tags button – Closes any open HTML tags left in your content. Note: proof your content after using this function to make sure that all HTML tags have correctly formatted your text.
  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 “full screen” writing mode. Click the button again to return to the normal text editor mode.
  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.

WordPress Distraction-Free Writing Mode

With “Distraction-Free Writing Mode” [#14] everything but your editor disappears, removing all distractions from your screen.

Some Useful Tips Related To Using HTML In WordPress

HTML Content Builders

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

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

Kompozer - Free HTML Editor

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 with 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 tool, is to use a WordPress plugin that lets you build your 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 edit content containing basic HTML tags into areas of your WordPress site other than your posts or pages (e.g. your sidebar, author bio, etc.), then see the quick tutorial below for a very simple solution that involves spending no extra time downloading HTML-editing software.

Quick Tutorial: How To Add Formatted Content To The “About Yourself” Section Of Your 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 content formatted with HTML.

These sections, however, don’t provide a content editor like the Visual Content editor found inside 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 WYSIWYG Editor

WordPress Visual Content Editor

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

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

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

Link To Author Page In WordPress Blog Post

Author Page Link In WordPress

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

WordPress Author Archives Section

Note: As you can see from the above screenshot, you can add links and simple text formatting like bold and italicized text to enhance your author bio and promote yourself, your business, social media pages, other online properties 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 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 in an HTML editor, then copy and paste it in …

About Yourself

Let’s “paste the content” into this field using the simple 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

Creating An Author Description

Next, format your content using the Visual Editor . Please note that you can only 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 across one or two paragraphs to explain who you are and what you do, and remember to include a useful link for your visitors …

Creating An Author Description

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

Author Description

After you have created your content, switch over to the Text Editor and copy everything to your clipboard …

Creating An Author Description

Go to your profile area by selecting Users > Your Profile in the main 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

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 how to edit your profile settings, refer to this tutorial: How To Edit Your WordPress User Profile

As we’ve mentioned a number of times, you don’t need to know HTML to use WordPress, but it can be useful to know the basics of HTML.

Practical Tip

Tips

Tip #1 – If you plan to add more complex formatted elements to your content (e.g. section boxes, 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 snippets

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

Tip #2 (Advanced WP User): You can enhance the functionality of your WordPress Text Editor using different 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

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

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

Extensible HTML Editor Buttons

Extensible HTML Editor Buttons

Extensible HTML Editor Buttons is a WP plugin you can add to your website 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 …

WP Plugin - Extensible HTML Editor Buttons

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

Here is another free WordPress plugin you can use …

Raw HTML

Raw HTML

Raw HTML lets you disable automatic formatting like automatic paragraph creation and smart quotes, 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 very useful if you need to add a CSS block or JavaScript to your content.

Raw HTML

Raw HTML – WP Plugin. (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 Editor, not in the Visual Editor.

For example, if you type the following text in the Visual Content Editor …

Troubleshooting HTML Formatting Errors

Your text will look like this when your post is published …

Troubleshooting WordPress 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 Editor …

Troubleshooting HTML Formatting Errors

Now … when you publish your post, you will 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 frame, form and others). This is for security reasons.

If you do experience any problems when adding common 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 saving your new profile 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 screen, reactivate your Visual Editor, and see 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 continue experiencing problems adding HTML code to your content, then you should 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 probable causes and solutions
  • Reinstalling your WordPress application (i.e. you may need to perform a clean site installation)
  • Contacting your web hosting company for assistance

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

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