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A Basic Guide To HTML For WordPress Users

The web, your website, your web pages and even your content are built and driven by a language of 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 some coding expertise.

HTML is one of the main “code” languages that is used throughout the web, websites, blog pages and also web content.

You don’t have to learn 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 web editor that allows you to create and easily format your content simply by clicking on a few buttons.

In this tutorial you will learn the basic HTML codes you should be familiar with to format content in WordPress.

You don’t have to know HTML to use WordPress, but having a bit of HTML knowledge can be a handy skill to have as a WordPress user!

A Useful Guide To HTML For Beginners – Tutorial

If you plan to manage your own website, having a little understanding of HTML can help you save time and money in a number of different ways.

Imagine that:

You don’t need to become a code-loving web programmer – just be familiar enough with basic 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

Important: Like everything in the digital realm, HTML is subject to change and evolution, and sometimes these changes will no doubt 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 remain up-to-date with new advances in software and web browser technology. As several tags used in older and even recent versions of WordPress become obsolete, you can expect that WordPress will also keep updating its software in order to remain compatible with industry-wide standards.

Using HTML In Your WordPress Content

WordPress provides users with a choice of adding content to your posts and pages using 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 work directly with code like HTML and other script languages (e.g. Javascript) when composing or editing your content …

WordPress Text Editor

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

What HTML Is OK To Use In WordPress Posts & Pages?

The WordPress Text editor allows you to insert many widely-used HTML tags, such as the tags below:

Commonly-Used HTML Formatting Tags

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

Using HTML Formatting Tags In WordPress Content

If you would like to learn more about using HTML, see the tutorials in the site below:

WordPress Text Editor Menu Features

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

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

WordPress HTML (Text) Content Editor Menu

Here is a brief description of the HTML function of each Text Editor menu button with their corresponding HTML (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 to add italics to your text.
  3. hyperlink: <a href="http://example.com"></a> Use this HTML tag to add a hyperlink to your selected text.
  4. b-quote – <blockquote></blockquote> Use this HTML tag for quoted or cited text.
  5. del: <del></del> This HTML tag is used to highlight text that has been deleted from a post or page. Most browsers will typically display this as strikethrough text.
  6. ins: <ins></ins> Use this HTML tag to mark text that has been inserted into the existing content. Most 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” description (a text description of your image in case the image is not rendered in a user’s web browser. Note: you can also use the “Add Media” button (15) to insert an image into your content.
  8. ul: <ul></ul> Use this HTML tag to insert an unordered list into your content. Unordered lists typically appear as a bulleted list of items. Note: use this HTML tag with the <li> tag (see below) in order for bullet lists to work correctly.
  9. ol: <ol></ol> Select this button to insert a numbered list. Items in an ordered list are usually numbered (just like the list you are reading now!). Note: use this tag with the <li> tag (see below) in order for bullet lists to display correctly.
  10. li: <li></li> Select 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 menu 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 convert your tags and you will get errors (e.g. broken text). Note: content selected within the <code> tags usually will display using a pre-formatted text style, such as a monospaced font like Courier. (See the “Tips” section below for more details).
  12. more: <!--more--> This function will break a blog post into “teaser” and main content sections. For example, if you type one or two paragraphs, then insert this tag and add the rest of your post content, readers will only see the first paragraphs of your post with a hyperlink (e.g. continue reading…), which displays the rest of your post’s content when clicked on.
  13. Close Tags – Closes any open HTML tags left in your content. Note: proof your content after using this function to ensure that all 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 “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.

WordPress Editor Distraction-Free Writing Mode [#14]

Useful Tips About Using HTML In WordPress

HTML Content Builders

If you plan to use HTML extensively, there are several Free HTML software applications you can download and use when getting started.

For example, a popular HTML editor software tool you can download at no cost is KompoZer.

Kompozer – 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 WordPress.

Another option, if you don’t want to mess with code or use an external HTML content application, is to use a WordPress plugin that lets you build your HTML content inside WordPress itself.

Thrive Content Builder

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

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

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

These sections, however, don’t provide a content editor like the Visual Content editor found in 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/Text editor to compose your HTML-formatted text, and then paste it into these other areas.

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

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

Clicking on the author link takes you to the Author Archives section, where site readers can learn more information about you (or other authors registered as users on your site) and see other articles that you (or other authors) have published …

Note: As you can see from the above screenshot, you can add hyperlinks and simple text formatting like bold and italicized text to enhance your author profile and promote yourself, your services, social media pages, other online properties that you own, etc. to your site visitors …

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

Although the Biographical Info text box 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 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 in the Visual Editor.

In this case, we want to create an author description

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 anchor text hyperlinks sparingly over one or two paragraphs to explain who you are and what you do, and include a useful link to help readers engage further with you or your business …

Keep working inside the Visual Editor tab until you have written your author bio …

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

Go to your profile by selecting Users > Your Profile in your navigation 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 description for your posts and formatted it using basic HTML!

To learn how to edit your profile settings, refer to this ”how to” article: How To Edit Your WordPress User Profile

As mentioned earlier, 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 styled 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 here:

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

For example:

WordPress HTML

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

Extensible HTML Editor Buttons

Extensible HTML Editor Buttons is a plugin you can add to your website that gives you 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.

With this plugin installed, you can wrap any part of your post 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 want to add JavaScript or a CSS block to your post.

Raw HTML – WP Plugin. (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 Tab.

For example, if you type the text shown below in the Visual Content 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).


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

Now … when your post is published, you should 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 iframe, textarea and others). This is for security reasons.

If you do experience any issues 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 …

After disabling the visual editor and updating 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, go back to your User Profile, reactivate the Visual Editor, and check 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 still continue to experience problems adding HTML code to your site, you may need to look at other options. This may include:

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


"This is AMAZING! I had learnt about how to use WordPress previously, but this covers absolutely everything and more!! Incredible value! Thank you!" - Monique, Warrior Forum