A Basic Guide To HTML For WordPress Users

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

Landing Pages for WordPress

An HTML Formatting Tags Primer For WordPress BeginnersThe world wide web, your website, your web pages and even your web content are all 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 that is used to build the world wide web, web sites, blog pages and formatting your web content.

You don’t have to know 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 visual editor that lets you create and easily format your content simply by clicking on a few buttons.

As you will learn below, it’s handy to have a bit of knowledge of HTML when creating, editing or formatting content for your WordPress-powered website. Having a basic knowledge of HTML can also save you time and money.

A Useful Guide To Formatting Content With HTML

You don’t have to learn HTML to use WordPress, but having a little bit of knowledge of HTML is quite useful as a WordPress user!

Using HTML In WordPress – Tutorial

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

Imagine this:

  • You would like to edit your existing content, add formatted text and an image to a section of your sidebar, or direct visitors to the contact page, opt-in form, etc. If you understand basic HTML, you can do this really quickly and easily without assistance from others.
  • You outsource work to a freelancer and get back files that contain HTML formatting. Having some knowledge of HTML can help you better proof your content before you sign off on the work.
  • Someone else creates your site’s content. You see a couple of basic text formatting errors, like a line of text that could have been made bold, or a hyperlink that is missing in your text. Knowing a little bit of HTML can help you fix simple errors in your pages very quickly without having to go and ask (or pay) a webmaster, a web designer, or someone else to do it for you.
  • You want to discuss new project or requirement with your website development team. Knowing basic HTML not only helps you communicate more effectively with web developers and web designers, it can also help to prevent you from being taken advantage of.

HTML - A Primer For Non-Geek 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!

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 Information

Important: Like everything else on the web, HTML is also subject to developmental change and evolution, and sometimes these changes will no doubt have an impact on WordPress.

Currently, HTML is in version 5 (also called HTML5), and this change has introduced several new “tags” to remain up-to-date with the latest advances in software and browser technology. As a number of older tags are being phased out of HTML5, you should expect that WordPress will also continue to update its code in order to remain compatible with industry-wide HTML standards.

Using HTML Tags To Format Content In WordPress

WordPress provides users with a option of adding content to your pages and posts with 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 add HTML and other script languages (e.g. Javascript) when composing or editing your content …

WordPress Text Editor

WP Text Content Editor

Info

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

HTML Tags Allowed By WordPress

The WordPress Content Management System (CMS) allows you to add a range of common HTML formatting tags, including the following:

Basic HTML Formatting Tags - WordPress

WordPress HTML Tags

Below are some simple content formatting examples using the HTML tags listed in the table above …

HTML Used In WordPress

Formatting WordPress Content With Basic HTML Tags

Practical Tip

If you would like to learn some more HTML, see the free tutorials in the website below:

Free HTML Tutorials

WordPress HTML (Text) Editor

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

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

WordPress Text Editor Menu Buttons

WordPress HTML (Text) Editor

Below is a brief description of the function of each of the Text Editor menu buttons with their corresponding HTML formatting tag (refer to 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 for text emphasis (i.e. italicize).
  3. hyperlink: <a href="http://example.com"></a> choose this menu button to add a hyperlink to any selected text.
  4. b-quote – <blockquote></blockquote> Click this button to quote or cite selected text.
  5. del: <del></del> This HTML tag is used to label text considered deleted from your content. Most web browsers will typically display this as striked-through text.
  6. ins: <ins></ins> This HTML tag is used to indicate text considered as having been inserted into a post or page. Many 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 the user’s screen. 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 post. Unordered lists generally display as a bulleted list. Note: use this tag with the <li> tag (see below) in order for bullet lists to display properly.
  9. ol: <ol></ol> Click this button to insert a numbered list. Items in an ordered list are usually 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> 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> Use this HTML tag 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 apply your tags and you will get errors (e.g. missing text). Note: any content enclosed in 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 tag breaks your post into “teaser” and main body areas. For example, if you add a couple of paragraphs, then add the “more” tag and add the remaining section of your post, readers will only see the first few paragraphs of your post and a hyperlink (e.g. continue reading…), which brings up the rest of the post’s content when clicked on.
  13. Close Tags – This function closes any open HTML tags left open. Note: proof your content after using this feature to make sure that all HTML 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” 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 appears whether you’re in the Visual or Text editor screens.

Distraction-Free Writing Mode

Distraction-Free Writing Mode [#14]

Useful Tips Related To Using HTML In WordPress

HTML Content Editors

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

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

Kompozer - HTML Editor

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 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 editor, is to use a WordPress plugin that lets you build content inside WordPress itself.

Content Builder - Plugin For WordPress

Content Builder – Plugin For WordPress

To learn more about this plugin, see this article: Thrive Content Builder

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 edit content that may contain basic HTML tags into areas of your site other than your posts and pages (e.g. your sidebar, author profile, etc.), then refer to the useful tutorial below for a really simple solution that involves spending no extra time downloading software.

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

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

These sections, however, don’t come with a content editor like the Visual Content editor found in your Posts and Pages sections …

WordPress Visual Editor

WordPress Visual Content Editor

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

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

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

Link To Author Page In WordPress Post

Author Page Link In WordPress Post

Clicking on the author link takes visitors to the Author Archives section, where blog readers can learn more about you (or other authors registered as users on your site) and see 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 formatting like italics and bold text to enhance your author bio and promote yourself, your products, social media pages, other online properties that you own, etc. to all of your site visitors …

Author Profile

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

About Yourself

Although the Biographical Info text box 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 field, or create it somewhere else, 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 bio

Creating An Author Description

Next, format your 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 the formatting simple – use bold, italics and text hyperlinks sparingly over one or two paragraphs to explain who you are and what you do, and include a useful link to help visitors further engage with you or your business …

Creating An Author Description

Continue working inside the Visual Editor screen until you have written your author description …

Author Description

After you have created your content, 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 your main navigation 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 description for your blog posts and formatted it using basic HTML!

Author Profile

To learn more about editing your profile settings, refer to this tutorial: How To Edit Your WordPress User Profile

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

Save time using cut & paste HTML resources

Learn about a time-saving “cut & paste” HTML resource we recommend here: WP Cheat – Cut & Paste HTML

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

For example:

WordPress HTML

WordPress HTML

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

WordPress HTML

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 code in the custom fields dialogue boxes, you can output HTML to your post or page.

Extensible HTML Editor Buttons

Extensible HTML Editor Buttons

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

WordPress Plugin - Extensible HTML Editor Buttons

Extensible HTML Editor Buttons – WordPress Plugin. (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 part 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 want to add a CSS block or JavaScript 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-formatted text correctly in the Text Tab, 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 you publish your post …

Troubleshooting HTML Formatting 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 in 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 some 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 commonly-used HTML tags to 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 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 your Profile area, reactivate your Visual Editor, and check if the HTML code is still working fine with the visual editor restored.

Useful Tip

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

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

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Author: Martin Aranovitch

WPCompendium.org provides hundreds of FREE WordPress tutorials for beginners. Our detailed step-by-step tutorials will save you money and teach you how to start, manage, and grow a website or blog using WordPress that puts you in complete control and delivers results with no coding skills required!