The Bare Bones Guide to HTML


Credit where credit is due

Many people have provided suggestions and assistance as the Bare Bones Guide to HTML has developed. My thanks go out to everyone who has contributed to the effort.

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What is unique about this guide

Several people have created excellent HTML guides and made them available on the Web -- who needs another one?

This document is designed to serve a particular niche. It is intended as a concise "cheat sheet" that you can use to look up the correct forms of tags as you are creating Web pages. Other HTML guides provide significantly more descriptive material about how to use particular tags or how HTML works in general. If you are a beginner, you might try one of those guides first.

There are also several style guides that focus more on how to write pages that look good and work on different browsers. I encourage you to read one or more of them if you are planning on creating Web pages; far too many people ignore the fact that their pages are going to be read by other people and that there are better and worse ways of doing things.

My WWW Help Page has links to numerous other sites that provide information on HTML and Web page design. It's a good place to start if you have specific questions that go beyond the "bare bones" information provided here.

This guide is designed for people who know enough not to need step-by-step instructions, but who haven't memorized the exact format of every HTML tag yet. If you want a "quick reference" that you can glance at without having to read through additional descriptive material, this guide is for you.

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Which tags are included

The other distinguishing aspect of this guide is what it includes. The Bare Bones Guide to HTML is intended to include all of the tags in common usage on Web pages today. Specifically, the Guide lists the following:

The development of HTML has been a confusing process, as attempts to adopt formal standards have often been overrun by developments in the marketplace. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is the official standards body for HTML. The current W3C recommendation is HTML 4.0.

In its Position Statement on HTML, W3C recommends that information providers use the HTML 4.0 specification, but that tools also be backward-compatible with earlier versions. Therefore, version 4.0 of the Bare Bones Guide to HTML includes all the HTML 4.0 tags, but distinguishes tags introduced in version 4.0 from those in version 3.2 as well.

I have also included all of the Netscape and Microsoft extensions to HTML, with the exception of some server interaction tags such as server push animation. Some of these extensions will not display properly if people viewing your pages are using another browser, so you should think about your audience before deciding whether to use them.

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For clarity, I have separated out different attributes that can be applied to the same tag onto separate lines. Generally, multiple attributes can be combined in the same tag.

Tags are listed in upper case for ease of reading, although most tags are not case sensitive.


URL    URL of an external file (or just file name if in the same directory)
?      Arbitrary number (i.e. <H?> means <H1>, <H2>, <H3>, etc.)
%      Arbitrary percentage (i.e. <HR WIDTH="%"> means <HR WIDTH="50%">, etc.)
***    Arbitrary text (i.e. ALT="***" means fill in with text)
$$$$$$ Arbitrary hex (i.e. BGCOLOR="#$$$$$$" means BGCOLOR="#00FF1C", etc.)
:::    Arbitrary date (i.e. DATETIME=":::" means "1994-11-05T08:15:30" etc.)
@      Email address (i.e. "mailto:@" means "" etc.)
,,,    Comma-delimited (i.e. COORDS=",,," means COORDS="0,0,50,50", etc.)
|      Alternatives (i.e. ALIGN=LEFT|RIGHT|CENTER means pick one of these)


(remember, HTML is evolving and browser implementations vary)
     (no notation) In the HTML 3.2 spec.; should work on all browsers

4.0  Introduced in HTML 4.0 recommendation
N1   Netscape extension introduced with Navigator version 1.0 or 1.1
N2   Netscape extension introduced with Navigator version 2.0
N3   Netscape extension introduced with Navigator version 3.0
N4   Netscape extension introduced with Navigator/Communicator version 4.0
MS   Microsoft Internet Explorer extension
*    Netscape extension now included in the HTML 4.0 specification

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Version History

Version 4.0 -- January 1999.

Version 3.0 -- July 21, 1996.

Version 2.0 -- October 7, 1995. Lots of changes and corrections in this version.

Version 1.22 -- August 18, 1995. Added a tag and some attributes that had been accidentally omitted from the forms section, and corrected the listing of which color tags are in the HTML 3.0 spec.

Version 1.21 -- July 26, 1995. Removed the archaic <NEXTID> tag and added some annotations to the HTML and table versions.

Version 1.2 -- July 25, 1995. Several revisions to improve compliance with the official HTML specifications, and to acknowledge more widespread implementation of certain HTML 3.0 tags.

Version 1.1 -- July 19, 1995. Cleaned up a number of things in the introductory material, and correctly specified the ISO 8859-1 character set instead of ASCII.

Version 1.03 -- July 12, 1995. Updated copyright notices to eliminate confusion with Bare Bones Software. Added Netscape relative font sizing tag, and changed the link to the list of ASCII symbol codes.

Version 1.02 -- April 24, 1995. Corrected some additional typos, fixed the link to this version history, and added the standard copyright and registered TM codes to go along with the Netscape versions.

Version 1.01 -- April 11, 1995. Fixed a couple minor typos and ambiguities pointed out by helpful folks, including some errors in the list tags section.

Version 1.0 HTML -- April 6, 1995. Has some additional introductory material, but the text is otherwise identical to version 1.0. Formatted for WWW viewing, with assistance from John Berkin.

Version 1.0 -- April 2, 1995. Corrected some errors pointed out by other people, and made some minor revisions to the introduction and the formatting of certain sections.

Version 0.9b -- March 30, 1995. First public version. Posted on comp.infosystems.www.providers.

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Copyright ©1995-1999 Kevin Werbach.
Last updated February 1, 1999.

So, you want to make a Web Page!
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Index & Quick Reference      Table of Contents      ColorPicker      BareBones HTML Guide
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