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A Basic Guide To HTML For WordPress Users

The web, your web site, your pages and even your web content are all built and powered by a language of code.

It is inevitable, then, that sooner or later, you will probably need something done for your business online, for your web site, or in your pages that will require having coding skills.

HTML is one of the main “code” languages that is used to build the world wide web, web sites, web pages and even web content.

One of the great things about using WordPress is that you don’t need to know HTML in order to create and format content in your blog’s posts or pages. 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 visual editor that allows you to compose and easily format your content simply by clicking on a few menu buttons.

As you will discover below, having some practical HTML knowledge can be quite useful when writing, changing or formatting content for your WordPress-driven website or blog. Having a basic knowledge of HTML can also save you time and money.

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

A Beginner’s Guide To Using Formatting Content With HTML In WordPress – Step-By-Step Tutorial

If you are running your own website, it’s good to have a little HTML knowledge when creating, changing or formatting content on WordPress.

Imagine this:

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

HTML – What Does It Mean?

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: Like everything in the digital realm, HTML is also subject to changes on a regular basis, and some of 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 web applications and web browser technology. As a number of tags used in older and even recent versions of WordPress get phased out of HTML5, you can expect that WordPress will also keep updating its core application to stay compatible with industry-wide coding standards.

Using HTML In Your WordPress Content

WordPress gives users the option of adding content to posts and pages with 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 script languages (e.g. Javascript) when adding or editing your content …

WordPress HTML Content Editor

We discuss the WordPress WYSIWYG Editor and how to add content to pages and posts in other tutorials.

HTML Tags Allowed By WordPress

The WordPress Text editor lets you use many common HTML formatting tags, such as the ones below:

HTML Tags

Here are several simple text formatting examples using a number of the HTML tags displayed in the illustration above …

HTML Tags Used In WordPress

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

The WordPress HTML (Text) Content Editor Explained

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

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

WordPress HTML (Text) Editor

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

  1. b: <strong></strong> Use this button to make text bold.
  2. i : <em></em> Use this button to italicize text.
  3. hyperlink: <a href="http://example.com"></a> choose this menu button to add a hyperlink to any highlighted text.
  4. b-quote – <blockquote></blockquote> Select this button to quote or cite text.
  5. del: <del></del> This HTML tag is used to label text that has been deleted from the existing content. Most browsers typically display this as strikethrough text.
  6. ins: <ins></ins> Use this HTML tag to highlight text considered inserted into a 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” tag (a text description of your image in case the image does not render in your visitor’s screen. Note: you can also use the “Add Media” button (15) to insert images into your content.
  8. ul: <ul></ul> Click this menu button to insert an unordered list into your post. Unordered lists generally display as a bulleted list. Note: use this HTML tag with the <li> tag (see below) in order for bullet lists to work.
  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 reading 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> Choose this menu 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).
  11. code: <code></code> Click this button 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: the content selected within the <code> tags typically will appear using a pre-formatted text style, such as a monospaced font like Courier. (See the “Tips” section below for more details).
  12. more: <!--more--> Use this button to break a blog post into “teaser” and ”rest of content” areas. For example, if you type a couple of paragraphs, then add the “more” tag and add the remaining section of your post content, readers will only be able to read the first couple of paragraphs of your post and a hyperlink (e.g. continue reading…), which if clicked on, will display the rest of the post.
  13. Close Tags – Closes any open HTML tags left in your content. 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” 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 display.
  15. Add Media – Click this button to insert media into your content (e.g. images, videos, audio files). This button appears whether you’ve chosen the Visual or Text editor screens.

WordPress Content Editor Distraction-Free Writing Mode [#14]

Some Useful Tips About Using HTML Formatting In WordPress

HTML Content Builders

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

A popular free HTML editor software tool, for example, 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 any code or use an external HTML content tool, is to use a WordPress plugin that lets you build content inside WordPress itself.

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 that may contain basic HTML into areas of your 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 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 certain places like text “widgets” in your sidebar, or the “About Yourself” text field in your User Profile screen that allow you to insert HTML tags.

These sections, however, don’t come with a content editor like the Visual/Text 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 Visual Content Editor

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

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

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

Link To Author Page In WordPress Blog Post

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

Note: As the above screenshot illustrates, you can add hyperlinks and simple text formatting like italics and bold text to enhance your author bio box and promote yourself, your services, social media pages, other sites that you own, etc. to blog readers …

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

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 field, or create it somewhere else, then copy and paste content with the HTML already embedded in it …

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

Next, format your content inside the Visual Editor tab. 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 describe who you are and what you do, and include a call to action to help visitors engage further with you or your business …

Continue working in the Visual Editor tab until you have completed your author description …

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

Next, go to your profile by selecting Users > Your Profile in the navigation menu …

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

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

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

To learn how to edit your profile settings, refer to 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 know the basics of HTML.

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 resources …

Save time using cut & paste HTML resources

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 function of your WordPress Text Editor using different plugins.

For example:

WordPress HTML

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

WordPress HTML. (Screenshot source: plugin website)

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

Extensible HTML Editor Buttons

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

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

Here is another free WordPress plugin you can use …

Raw HTML

Raw HTML lets you disable automatic formatting like smart quotes and automatic paragraph creation, and use raw HTML/JS/CSS code in your posts without WordPress messing it up.

With this plugin installed, you can wrap any section 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 also very useful if you need to add JavaScript or a CSS block to your post.

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 tags correctly in the Text Tab, not in the Visual Editor.

For example, if you type 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).

So:

To preserve the symbols “<” and “>” intact and ensure that your text will format correctly, you need to paste the code in the Text Tab …

Now … when you publish your post, you will find that your text has been formatted correctly …

Tip #4 (Advanced WP User): By default, WordPress does not allow some HTML tags to be used (e.g. codes such as frame, textarea 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 section …

After disabling the visual editor and saving your new profile 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, return to your User Profile, reactivate the Visual Editor, and see 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 continue experiencing problems adding HTML code to your content, you may need to look at other options. This may include:

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

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