Learn basic HTML formatting you can use to format content in your posts and pages.
The web, your web site, your pages and even your web content are all built and driven by code.
It is inevitable, then, that sooner or later, you will run into a situation where you will need something done for your business online, for your website, or in your content that will require having knowledge of code.
HTML is one of the “code” languages that is used throughout the world wide web, websites, blog pages and web content.
One of the main benefits of using a WordPress-driven website is that you don’t have to learn HTML to create and format content for your site’s posts. 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 content that lets you create and easily format your content just by clicking on a few buttons.
In this article you will learn the basic HTML codes you should be familiar with in your WordPress content.
You don’t have to learn HTML to use WordPress, but having a little HTML knowledge can be a handy skill to have as a WordPress user!
- A Practical Guide To HTML For WordPress Dummies – Tutorial
- What Is HTML?
- How To Use HTML Tags To Format Content In Your WordPress Posts And Pages
- What HTML Formatting Tags Are OK To Use In WordPress Content?
- The WordPress HTML (Text) Editor Explained
- Useful Tips Related To Using HTML In WordPress
A Practical Guide To HTML For WordPress Dummies – Tutorial
If you plan to manage your own website, having a basic knowledge of HTML can help you save time and money in a number of different ways.
Let’s say that:
- You want to make changes to your existing content, add formatted text and an image in an area of your sidebar, or direct visitors to a contact form, newsletter subscription page, etc. If you know basic HTML, you can do this really easily and quickly without having to pay someone else to do this for you.
- You outsource content work to a freelance article writer and get back files that contain formatted text. Having a little knowledge of HTML helps you better understand your content before you accept and pay for the work.
- Someone creates your web content. You spot a couple of simple text formatting errors, like a line of text that should have been made bold, or a hyperlink that has not been added to your text. Knowing some basic HTML will help you fix simple things in your posts without delay, and 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 a project or requirement with a website development team. Having some basic knowledge of HTML not only will help you communicate more effectively with web developers and web designers, it can also help prevent you from being taken for a ride by service providers.
You don’t need to become a technical web geek – just be familiar enough with basic HTML to be a “web-savvy” 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>, 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.
Source: Wikipedia, HTML
Important: Like everything in the digital realm, HTML is also subject to constant change, and sometimes these changes will affect WordPress.
Currently, the latest version of HTML is version 5 (also called HTML5), and this change has introduced several new “tags” to keep up with the latest advances in web applications and web browser technology. As several tags used in older and even recent versions of WordPress become obsolete, you should expect that WordPress will also continue updating its core application to stay compatible with industry-wide coding standards.
How To Use HTML Tags To Format Content In Your WordPress Posts And Pages
WP Text Editor
We cover the WordPress Visual Editor and adding content to posts and pages in separate ”how to” articles.
What HTML Formatting Tags Are OK To Use In WordPress Content?
The WordPress Text editor allows you to add many common HTML tags, including the ones listed in the table below:
Frequently-Used HTML Tags
Below are a few useful content formatting examples using some of the HTML tags listed above …
Using HTML Tags In WordPress
If you are interested in learning more about using HTML, go here:
The WordPress HTML (Text) Editor Explained
Out of the box, the HTML (Text) Content Editor comes with a number of standard buttons in its menu …
WordPress HTML (Text) Content Editor Menu
Below is a brief description of the HTML function of each Text Editor menu button with their corresponding HTML (refer to the screenshot above):
<strong></strong>Use this HTML tag for strong emphasis of text (i.e. bold).
- i :
<em></em>Use this HTML tag for text emphasis (i.e. italicize).
<a href="http://example.com"></a>Use this HTML tag to add a hyperlink to your selected text.
- b-quote –
<blockquote></blockquote>Use this HTML tag for quoted or cited text.
<del></del>Use this HTML tag to mark text considered deleted from a page or post. Most web browsers will typically display this as strikethrough text.
<ins></ins>This HTML tag is used to mark text considered as having been inserted into your content. Most browsers will typically display this as underlined text.
src="http://www.yourdomain.com/img/image.jpg" alt="image description" />Use this HTML tag to 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 rendered in a user’s browser. Note: you can also use the “Add Media” button (15) to insert an image into your content.
<ul></ul>Select this menu button to insert an unordered list into your post. Unordered lists usually appear as a list of items preceded by bullets. Note: use this formatting tag together with the
<li>tag (see below) in order for bullet lists to work properly.
<ol></ol>Select this menu button to insert a numbered list. Items in an ordered list are generally numbered (just like the list you are seeing right now!). Note: use this tag with the
<li>tag (see below) in order for bullet lists to display correctly.
<li></li>Choose this 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).
<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. missing text). Note: content added inside the
<code>tags normally will appear using a preformatted text style, such as a monospaced font like Courier. (See the “Tips” section below for more details).
<!--more-->Use this function to break your blog post into “teaser” and main content areas. For example, if you add one or two paragraphs, then add this tag and compose the rest of your post content, visitors will only be able to see the first couple of paragraphs of your post with a hyperlink (e.g. continue reading…), which if clicked on, will then display the rest of the post.
- close tags button – 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.
- 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.
- Add Media button – 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 [#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 or low cost HTML software applications that you can download and use when getting started.
For example, a popular HTML editor software tool you can download for free is 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 with this application, then use plugins that let you insert code into your posts or pages.
Another option, if you don’t want to mess with code or use an external HTML content builder, is to use a WordPress plugin that lets you build HTML-based content inside WordPress itself.
Content Builder – WordPress Plugin
To learn more about this plugin, see this article: Content Builder – Plugin For WordPress
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 containing HTML into areas of your WordPress site other than your posts or pages (e.g. your sidebar, author profile, etc.), then refer to the useful tutorial below for a very simple solution that involves spending no extra time downloading HTML-editing software.
Useful Tip: Adding Formatted Content To The “About Yourself” Text Box In Your Profile
In WordPress, there are areas like ”widgets” in your sidebar, and the “About Yourself” text box in your User Profile section that let you use HTML.
These areas, however, don’t provide a content editor like the Visual/Text editor found in your Posts and Pages areas …
WordPress Visual 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 go through an example, so you can see how easily this can be done.
Typically, 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 Blog Post
Clicking on the author link takes you to the Author Archives section, where site readers can learn more information about you (or other registered users) and see other blog posts that you (or other authors) have published …
Note: As the above screenshot illustrates, you can add links and simple text formatting like italics and bold text to enhance your author bio and promote yourself, your products and services, social media pages, other online properties that you own, etc. to your site visitors …
The author resource box is located in the About Yourself > Biographical Info field inside your Profile area …
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 area, or create it elsewhere, then copy and paste it in …
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 promo …
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 things 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 for your visitors …
Keep working inside the Visual Editor screen until you have added all of the formatting you want to add to your author bio …
When you are happy with your author bio, switch over to the Text Editor and copy everything to your clipboard …
Go to your profile area by selecting Users > Your Profile from your admin menu …
Scroll down to the About Yourself section and paste your content into the Biographical Info text box ….
Click Update Profile to save your changes …
Congratulations … You have just created an author description for your blog posts and formatted it using basic HTML!
To learn more about editing your profile settings, see this tutorial: How To Edit Your WordPress User Profile
As we’ve already mentioned, you don’t need to know HTML to use WordPress, but it can be useful to have a little basic knowledge of HTML.
Tip #1 – If you plan to add more complex design elements to your content (e.g. pull quotes, 3-column paragraphs, etc.) without learning HTML, you can use cut & paste HTML snippets …
Save time using cut & paste HTML tools
Learn about a time-saving “cut & paste” HTML resource we recommend for non-technical WordPress users here: Cut & Paste HTML Resources
Tip #2 (Advanced WP User): You can enhance the functionality of your WordPress Content Editor using several plugins.
WordPress HTML allows you to add custom HTML to both the page and post body and head sections.
WordPress HTML. (Screenshot source: plugin website)
Pasting HTML directly into your WordPress editor will often break various elements and corrupt the HTML. By saving the code inside the custom fields dialogue boxes, you can output the exact HTML-formatted content to your page or post.
Extensible HTML Editor Buttons is a free WP plugin you can add to your website 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 …
Extensible HTML Editor Buttons – WP Plugin. (Screenshot source: plugin website)
Here’s another free WordPress plugin you can use …
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.
Raw HTML – Plugin For WP. (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 enter the text shown below in the Visual Content Editor …
This is what your text will look like when your post is published …
You can see what is causing the problem if you switch over to the Text Tab …
As you can see in the screenshot above, WordPress converts the symbols “<” and “>” into their HTML code equivalents (called ASCII characters).
- “<” (open angled bracket) = “<“
- “>” (closed angled bracket) = “>“
To preserve the symbols “<” and “>” intact and ensure that your text will format correctly, you need to paste your code in the Text Editor …
Now … when you publish your post, you should find that your text has been formatted correctly …
Tip #4 (Advanced WP User): By default, WordPress does not allow a number of HTML tags to be used (e.g. codes such as embed, textarea 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 …
After disabling the visual editor and updating your settings, go back to your page or post and re-paste the content with the problematic HTML tags, then republish your post.
If the above suggestion fixes the issue, go back to your Profile screen, reactivate the Visual Editor, and check if the HTML code is still working fine with the visual editor restored.
Note: If the above suggestion does not fix the issue and you still continue to experience problems adding HTML code to your content, 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 new site installation)
- Contacting your webhosting company for assistance
Congratulations! Now you know the basics of using HTML to format and style your content.
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