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A Basic Guide To HTML For WordPress Users

The world wide web, your website, your web pages and even your content are all built and driven by code.

It is inevitable, then, that sooner or later, you may probably need something done for your business online, for your web site, or in your web content that requires having knowledge of code.

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

One of the main benefits of using a WordPress-driven site is that you don’t have to know HTML in order to compose and format content in your posts and 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 content editor that allows you to create and easily format your content just by clicking on a few menu buttons.

As you will discover below, having some practical knowledge of HTML can be useful when writing, editing or formatting content for your WordPress-powered website or blog. A little knowledge of HTML can also save you time and money.

You don’t have to learn HTML to use WordPress, but having some practical HTML knowledge can be a handy skill to have as a WordPress user!

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

If you are running your own web presence, having some understanding of HTML can help save you time and money in various ways.

Imagine that:

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 – A Basic Definition

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 else on the web, HTML is also subject to changes on a regular basis, and sometimes these changes will no doubt affect 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 web browser technology. As some of the older tags are being phased out of 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 Post Content

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

WP HTML Editor

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

What HTML Tags Can Be Inserted Into Posts And Pages?

WordPress allows you to add most commonly-used HTML tags, including the following:

Basic HTML Tags

Below are several useful text formatting examples using a number of the HTML tags displayed above …

Using Common HTML In WordPress

If you would like to learn more about using HTML, visit the website below:

WordPress Text Editor

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

Out of the box, the Text Content Editor displays a number of standard menu buttons …

WordPress Text Editor Menu Buttons

Below is a brief description of the function of each of the Text Editor menu buttons with their corresponding HTML (see the above diagram):

  1. b: <strong></strong> Use this button if you want to make text bold.
  2. i : <em></em> Use this HTML tag to add italics to your text.
  3. hyperlink: <a href="http://example.com"></a> Use this HTML tag to add a hyperlink to your highlighted text.
  4. b-quote – <blockquote></blockquote> Choose this button to quote or cite selected text.
  5. del: <del></del> This HTML tag is used to label text that has been deleted from a page or post. Most web browsers typically display this as striked-through text.
  6. ins: <ins></ins> This HTML tag is used to mark text that has been inserted into your content. Many web browsers will 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” tag (a text description of your image in case the image is not displayed in a user’s web 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 post. Unordered lists typically display as a list of items preceded by bullets. Note: use this tag together with the <li> tag (see below) in order for bullet lists to work correctly.
  9. ol: <ol></ol> This HTML tag is used to insert a numbered list. Items in an ordered list are typically numbered (just like the list you are seeing 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> 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> Select this menu button 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 apply your tags and you will get errors (e.g. broken text). Note: the content selected within 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).
  12. more: <!--more--> This tag will break a post into “teaser” and main body areas. For example, if you add one or two paragraphs, then add the “more” tag and add the rest of your post content, visitors will only be able to read the first few paragraphs of your post and a hyperlink (e.g. continue reading…), which will bring up the rest of your post when clicked on.
  13. Close Tags – Closes any open HTML tags left in your content. Note: proof your content after using this feature to ensure that all HTML tags have correctly formatted your text.
  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” mode. Click the button again to revert 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.

Distraction-Free Writing Mode [#14]

Useful Tips About Using HTML In WordPress

HTML Content Editors

If you plan to learn and use HTML, there are several Free or low cost HTML editor software tools you can download and use when getting started.

A popular free HTML software tool, for example, 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 in this application, then use plugins that let you insert code into WordPress.

Another option, if you don’t want to mess around with code or use an external HTML content application, is to use a WordPress plugin that lets you build your 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 any kind of work that involves editing code, but would still like to be able to easily create, insert and format content that may contain basic HTML tags into areas of your site other than your posts and pages (e.g. your sidebar, author biography, etc.), then refer to the tutorial below for a very simple solution that involves spending no extra time downloading software.

Useful Tip: Adding HTML-Formatted Text To The “About Yourself” Text Box In Your User Profile

In WordPress, there are some locations like ”widgets” in your sidebar, or the “About Yourself” text box in your User Profile section that let you insert HTML-formatted content.

These sections, however, don’t come with a content editor like the Visual Content editor found inside your Posts and Pages screens (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 Editor

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

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

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

Link To Author Page 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 posts that you (or other authors) have published …

Note: As the above screenshot illustrates, you can add links and simple text formatting like bold and italicized text to enhance your author bio and promote yourself, your business, social media pages, other websites that you own, etc. to blog readers …

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

Although the Biographical Info text area allows you to 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 field, or create it in an HTML editor, 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 in 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 it simple – use bold, italics and anchor text hyperlinks sparingly across one or two paragraphs to describe who you are and what you do, and include a useful link to help your readers further engage with you or your business …

Continue working inside the Visual Editor tab until you have added all of the formatting you want to add to your author profile content …

After composing your content, switch over to the Text Editor and copy everything to your clipboard …

Next, go to your profile area by selecting Users > Your Profile from your main menu …

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

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

Congratulations … You have just created an author bio 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 know the basics of HTML.

HTML Tips

Tip #1 – If you would like to add more complex styled elements to your content (e.g. highlighted segments, pricing boxes, etc.) without learning HTML, you can use cut & paste HTML tools …

Save time using cut & paste HTML tools

Learn about a time-saving “cut & paste” HTML resource we recommend here:

Tip #2 (Advanced WP User): You can expand the functionality of your WordPress Content Editor using a number of WordPress 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 your WordPress editor can often break various elements and corrupt the HTML. By entering the code inside the plugin’s custom fields dialogue boxes, you can output HTML-formatted content to your page or post.

Extensible HTML Editor Buttons

Extensible HTML Editor Buttons is a free WP plugin you can add to your site that enables you to 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 …

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

Here’s another free 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, any section of your post can be wrapped 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 a CSS block or JavaScript to your content.

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

For example, if you enter the following text in the Visual Tab …

Your text will look like this when your post is published …

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 your post is published, you will find that your text formatting is correct …

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

If you do experience any problems 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 …

After disabling the visual editor and saving 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.

Note: If the above suggestion doesn’t fix the issue and you continue experiencing problems adding HTML code to your site, then you should look at other options. This may include:

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

***

"I was absolutely amazed at the scope and breadth of these tutorials! The most in-depth training I have ever received on any subject!" - Myke O'Neill, DailyGreenPost.com

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