This page explains the basics of HTML as a step towards writing a "User Style Sheet" for use with Microsoft Internet Explorer. It is one of the series of pages which contain self-help advice to help people who have poor but useful vision to access web pages more easily. Some of the advice may help people with other needs.
The examples are based on Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5 or 6.0 (MSIE5.5) running on Microsoft Windows 98se.
Pages in this series:
This information is supplied "as is". Neither Curlew Communications Limited nor the author take responsibility for any loss or damage caused by use of the information.
This page explains the basics of HTML as a step towards writing a "User Style Sheet" in order to gain extra control over the appearance of web pages displayed on your PC.
Style sheets modify the way that the user's web browser (eg. Internet Explorer) interprets and displays web pages. It is therefore necessary to understand a little about HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) – the language of the World Wide Web.
HTML web pages are plain text files where parts of the text are "marked-up" with special HTML tags which tell the web browser how to display that part of the text.
Each HTML web page has two main sections: The head, and the body.
The head section usually contains some definitions and information which entice web search engines to index the page.
The body section usually contains the information which is displayed on the user's PC screen. It may also contain links and commands which point to other information such as the images.
Most HTML tags are used in pairs: An opening tag and closing tag. These surround the affected section of text. The HTML tags are enclosed in angled brackets. There are a few single tags: <br> (break) forces a new line and <hr> (horizontal rule) draws a line across the page.
Usually the HTML code of a web page can be inspected easily via the "view source" facility of the web browser. In MS Internet Explorer this can be reached by:
View .... Source.
This opens MS Notepad on the PC and displays the HTML code of the current web page which is being displayed in the browser.
Try viewing the HTML source of this web page. As you scroll down the text displayed in MS Notepad, you will reach the line:
<h2>Accessing The Inaccessible – Introduction to HTML</h2>
This is the second level heading of this web page. <h2> marks the start of the heading and </h2> marks the end of the heading. Because this is a second level heading, most web browsers know to display this using large bold font.
The web pages on this site have recently been updated to basic HTML5: Previously, they were encoded using a well supported sub-set of HTML version 4. Some of the punctuation and other features are there to help older screen readers to work better.
Note. Notepad is displaying only a temporary copy of the web page held within Internet Explorer. Any changes made within notepad will not affect the original web page. When you have finished, simply close Notepad.
The source of some commercial pages and pages which use HTML "frames" may not be displayed properly in Notepad. For these, it may be easier to download the page to the PC's desktop by using:
File .... Save As .... Web Page Complete.
This will save the web page together with a folder containing the supporting files and images. The text of the web page will probably be one of the HTML files in the folder.
Note. The HTML source of some web pages starts with many blank lines so that you have scroll down to find the text. The web browser normally ignores such blank lines.
For more information, read one of the excellent tutorials available on the Internet. The official standards are also available.
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