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A Basic Guide To HTML For WordPress Users

The web, your web site, your web 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 may run into a situation where you will probably need something done for your business online, for your web site, or in your web content that requires having some coding skills.

HTML is one of the “code” languages used throughout the web, websites, web pages and your web content.

You don’t need to learn HTML in order 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 content that lets you create and easily format content just by clicking on a few buttons.

As you will learn below, having some HTML knowledge can be useful when composing, changing or formatting content for WordPress. A basic knowledge of HTML can also save you time and money.

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

A Beginner’s Guide To HTML Tags For WordPress Users – Tutorial

If you plan to run your own web presence, having a bit of HTML knowledge can be quite useful when creating, changing or formatting content for your WordPress-driven web site.

Let’s say that:

You don’t need to become a code-loving web programmer – just learn enough HTML to be a “web-smart” 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 all things online, HTML is subject to frequent change, and sometimes these changes will affect WordPress.

Currently, we are in version 5 of the HTML set of standards (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 to update its software to stay compatible with industry-wide HTML standards.

Using HTML Tags To Format Content In Your Pages And Posts

WordPress provides users with a option of adding content to pages and posts using its 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 input code like HTML and other script languages (e.g. Javascript) when creating or editing your content …

WordPress HTML Content Editor

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

What HTML Can Be Inserted Into Pages & Posts?

WordPress allows you to insert most common HTML tags, including the tags shown in the table below:

Common HTML Tags Allowed In WordPress

Below are some simple text formatting examples using the HTML tags displayed in the illustration above …

HTML Tags Used In WordPress

To learn more about using HTML, go here:

The WordPress HTML (Text) Content Editor Menu Explained

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

By default, the WordPress Text (HTML) Content Editor displays a number of standard menu buttons …

WordPress Text Content Editor

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

  1. b: <strong></strong> Use this button to make your text bold.
  2. i : <em></em> Use this HTML tag for emphasis of text (i.e. italicize).
  3. hyperlink: <a href="http://example.com"></a> Choosing this menu button adds a hyperlink to your highlighted text.
  4. b-quote – <blockquote></blockquote> Choose this button to quote or cite highlighted text.
  5. del: <del></del> Use this HTML tag to indicate text that has been deleted from a post or page. Most browsers typically display this as strikethrough text.
  6. ins: <ins></ins> Use this HTML tag to mark text that has been inserted into a post or page. Many web browsers typically display this as underlined text.
  7. img: 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” description (a text description of your image in case the image is not rendered in your visitor’s web browser. Note: you can also use the “Add Media” button (15) to insert an image into your content.
  8. ul: <ul></ul> This HTML tag is used to insert an unordered list into your content. Unordered lists normally display 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 display correctly.
  9. ol: <ol></ol> Choose 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: use this tag together with the <li> tag (see below) in order for bullet lists to display.
  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. broken text). Note: content inserted within the <code> tags generally will display using a different 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 your blog post into “teaser” and ”rest of content” sections. For example, if you type a few paragraphs, then insert the “more” tag and compose the rest of your post, users will only see the first paragraphs of your post and a hyperlink (e.g. continue reading…), which will bring up the rest of the post’s content if clicked on.
  13. Close Tags button – This function closes any open HTML tags left in your content. Note: proof your content after using this feature to ensure 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” 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 displays for both the Visual and Text editors.

Click on “Distraction-Free Writing Mode” [#14] and everything but your editor fades away, removing all distractions from your screen.

Useful Tips About Using HTML Formatting 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 editor software applications you can download and use when getting started.

For example, a popular HTML software tool you can download for free is 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 with this application, then use plugins that let you insert code into WordPress.

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 your content inside WordPress itself.

Thrive Content Builder – Plugin For WordPress

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 tags into areas of your site other than your posts and pages (e.g. your sidebar, author profile, etc.), then see the tutorial below for a very simple solution that involves spending no extra time downloading HTML software.

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

In WordPress, there are places like text “widgets” in your sidebar, or the “About Yourself” section in your User Profile screen that let you insert HTML tags.

These sections, however, don’t come with 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 WYSIWYG Editor

You can still use the WordPress WYSIWYG editor to compose HTML-formatted text, and paste it into these other areas.

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

By default, whenever a post is published in your WordPress blog, 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 Post

Clicking on the author link takes visitors to the Author Archives section, where they can learn more information 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 links and simple text formatting like italics and bold text to enhance your author profile and promote yourself, your business, social media pages, other online properties you own, etc. to all of your site visitors …

The author resource box is located in the About Yourself > Biographical Info field within your User 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 box, or create it elsewhere, then copy and paste content with the HTML already embedded in it …

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

Next, format the 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 anchor text links sparingly across one or two paragraphs to explain who you are and what you do, and include a call to action for your visitors …

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

When you are happy with your author bio, switch over to the Text Editor and copy everything to your clipboard …

Next, go to your profile 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 area ….

Remember to click Update Profile to save your changes …

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

To learn more about editing your profile settings, see this ”how to” article: How To Edit Your WordPress User Profile

As you can see, you don’t have to learn HTML to use WordPress, but it can be useful to have a little basic knowledge of HTML.

HTML Tips

Tip #1 – If you would like to add more complex formatted 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 functionality of your WordPress Text Editor using several WordPress plugins.

For example:

WordPress HTML

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

WordPress HTML. (Screenshot source: plugin website)

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

Extensible HTML Editor Buttons

Extensible HTML Editor Buttons is a free 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 add custom buttons and additional functions to the text editor …

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

Here’s another free WordPress plugin you can use …

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 posts without WordPress messing it up.

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

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 Tab …

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

You can see 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 into the Text Editor …

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

Tip #4 (Advanced WordPress User): By default, WordPress does not allow some HTML tags to be used (e.g. codes such as iframe, textarea and others). This is for security reasons.

If you do experience any issues 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 …

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, return to your Profile page, 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 continue experiencing problems adding HTML code to your content, then you should look at other options. This may include:

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

***

"This is an awesome training series. I have a pretty good understanding of WordPress already, but this is helping me to move somewhere from intermediate to advanced user!" - Kim Lednum

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