A Basic Guide To HTML For WordPress Users

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

A Basic Guide To HTML For BeginnersThe world wide web, your website, your web pages and even your content are built and powered by a language of 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 will require having some knowledge of code.

HTML is one of the main “code” languages used throughout the world wide web, websites, blog pages and even 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 web editor that lets you create and easily format content simply by clicking on a few menu buttons.

This step-by-step tutorial provides a useful reference guide for beginners to basic HTML codes you can use in your WordPress content.

A Beginner's Guide To HTML Formatting Tags For WordPress Users

You don’t need to learn HTML to use WordPress, but having a little knowledge of HTML can be very useful as a WordPress user!

Using HTML In WordPress – Step-By-Step Tutorial

If you plan to run your own website, having some understanding of HTML can help save you time and money in various ways.

Imagine that:

  • You would like to adjust certain elements in your existing content, insert formatted text and an image to an area of your sidebar, or direct your visitors to the contact page, opt-in form, etc. If you know basic HTML, you can do this really easily and quickly with no professional help needed.
  • You outsource some content writing to an article writer and receive back files containing formatted text. Having a little knowledge of HTML helps you better proof and review the quality of the content before you accept the work.
  • Someone creates your site’s content. You spot a couple of simple mistakes in the text, like a passage that could have been made bold, or a hyperlink pointing to the wrong destination URL. Having some basic knowledge of HTML will help you edit and correct simple mistakes in your posts or pages 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 designer. Having some basic knowledge of HTML not only helps you communicate more effectively with web developers and web designers, it also helps you feel and appear more confident and knowledgeable when presenting your ideas or making requests for changes to your site.

Using HTML In WordPress

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

Important: Like all things online, HTML is also subject to frequent changes, 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 several new “tags” to remain up-to-date with the latest advances in web applications and browser technology. As several tags used in older and even recent versions of WordPress get dropped from HTML5, you should expect that WordPress will also continue to update its software in order to ensure compatibility with industry-wide coding standards.

Using HTML Tags In Your WordPress Content

WordPress provides users with a choice of adding content to your posts and pages using a 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 creating or editing your content …

WordPress Text Editor

Default WordPress HTML Content Editor

Useful Info

We cover the WordPress WYSIWYG Editor and adding content to posts and pages in separate articles.

HTML Formatting Tags Allowed By WordPress

The WordPress Content Management System (CMS) allows you to insert a range of common HTML tags, including the tags listed below:

HTML Formatting Tags

HTML – WordPress

The diagram below shows some simple text formatting examples using some of the HTML tags displayed above …

Formatting WordPress Content With Basic HTML Formatting Tags

Using Basic HTML Tags In WordPress Content

Useful Tip

If you are interested in learning more about using HTML, see the tutorials in the site below:

The WordPress HTML (Text) Editor Explained

The WordPress Text Editor allows users to see, edit and work with code like HTML and other web languages (e.g. Javascript) in the content.

By default, the Text Content Editor comes with a standard set of menu buttons already installed …

WordPress HTML (Text) Content Editor

WordPress HTML (Text) Editor Menu Buttons

Here is a brief description of the function of each Text Editor menu button with their corresponding HTML (see the screenshot above):

  1. b: <strong></strong> Use this button to make your text bold.
  2. i : <em></em> Use this button to italicize text.
  3. hyperlink: <a href="http://example.com"></a> Clicking this button adds a hyperlink to your 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 your content. Many browsers will typically display this as strikethrough text.
  6. ins: <ins></ins> Use this HTML tag to indicate text that has been inserted into a page or post. Many 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 does not display in a user’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 normally appear as a bulleted list. 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> Use this HTML tag to insert a numbered list. Items in an ordered list are typically numbered (just like the list you are reading right now!). Note: use this tag with the <li> tag (see below) in order for bullet lists to display 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 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 usually 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 will break your post into “teaser” and main body sections. For example, if you add one or two paragraphs, then insert this tag and add the rest of your post content, visitors will only be able to see the first few paragraphs of your post with a hyperlink (e.g. continue reading…), which when clicked on, will then display the rest of the post.
  13. close tags button – This menu button closes any open HTML tags left in your content. 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 “full screen” writing mode. Click the button again to return to the normal editor display.
  15. Add Media – 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 Content Editor 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 in 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 editor software tools that you can download and use when getting started.

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

Kompozer

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 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 content inside WordPress itself.

Thrive Content Builder

Thrive Content Builder – WordPress Plugin

To learn more about this plugin, see this article:

If you have no need or desire for doing work involving technical coding, 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 biography, etc.), then see the tutorial below for a really simple solution that involves spending no extra time downloading software.

Quick Tutorial: How To Add HTML-Formatted Content To The “About Yourself” Text Box In Your User Profile

In your WordPress site, there are some places like text “widgets” in your sidebar, or the “About Yourself” text box in your User Profile section that let you use HTML.

These sections, however, don’t provide a content editor like the Visual 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 paste it into these other areas.

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

Typically, whenever a post is published in WordPress, a link to the author displays somewhere in your posts (i.e. at the bottom or top of the post) …

Author Page Link In WordPress Blog Post

Author Page Link In WordPress Blog Post

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

WordPress Author Archives Section

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

Author Profile

The author bio box 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 box, 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 inside 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 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 hyperlinks sparingly across one or two paragraphs to explain who you are and what you do, and include a call to action for your readers …

Creating An Author Description

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

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 area by selecting Users > Your Profile from the main navigation menu …

User Profile Screen

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

About Yourself

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

Update Profile Button

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

Author Profile

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

As you can see, 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 For WordPress Users

Tip #1 – If you plan to add more complex formatted elements to your content (e.g. section boxes, 3-column paragraphs, etc.) without learning HTML, you can use cut & paste HTML resources …

Save time using cut & paste HTML resources

Save time using cut & paste HTML snippets

Learn about a time-saving “cut & paste” HTML resource we recommend for non-technical WP users here:

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

For example:

WordPress HTML

WordPress HTML - Plugin For WP

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

WordPress HTML

WordPress HTML. (Screenshot source: plugin website)

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

Extensible HTML Editor Buttons

Extensible HTML Editor Buttons

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

Extensible HTML Editor Buttons - WordPress Plugin

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

Here is another free WordPress plugin you can use …

Raw HTML

Raw HTML - WP 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 installed, any part of your post can be wrapped in [raw]…[/raw] tags to prevent 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 - WordPress Plugin

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 Editor.

For example, if you type the text shown below in the Visual Editor …

Troubleshooting HTML Formatting Errors

Your text will look like this when you publish your post …

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 into the Text Tab …

Troubleshooting HTML Formatting Errors

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

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, input and others). This is for security reasons.

If you do experience any issues when adding common 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 settings, go back 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 your User Profile, reactivate the Visual Editor, and see if the HTML code is still working fine with the visual editor restored.

Practical Tip

Note: If the above suggestion does not fix the issue and you continue experiencing 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 possible causes and solutions
  • Reinstalling your WordPress application (i.e. you may need to perform a clean site installation)
  • Contacting your hosting provider for help

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

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