HTML: 10 RULES OF THUMB

References: For more information, watch the Lynda.com video tutorials:

Most of the HTML language is best learned through practice, however below are ten rules of thumb that can help you learn how to use the tags to create the desired result.

1. Follow the HTML naming conventions: avoid spaces, capital letters, and special characters when naming files
2. Most tags have an opening and a closing tag
3. The browser ignores whitespace
4. Make your code readable using indents and line breaks
5. Double-check your attribute syntax
6. Last in, first out (LIFO)
7. Use comments to help you understand your code
8. Links to style sheets go inside the <head></head> tag
9. Everything else goes inside the <body></body> tag
10. Take advantage of the browser's built-in code inspector

1. Avoid spaces, capital letters, and special characters when naming files

When creating new HTML files, it is important to follow the naming conventions listed below:

  1. No whitespace
    Rename page 1.htmlpage_1.html or page1.html
  2. No capitalization; all lowercase
    Rename Page1.htmlpage1.html
  3. No special characters (‘,*!^%#). Dashes & underscores are OK
    Rename Jenny's Page!.htmljennys_page.html

In addition, all HTML files end with either the .htm or .html file extension.

2. Most tags have an opening tag and a closing tag

For instance:

<h1>My Title</h1>

But some don't:

Images:             <img src="dog.png"> 
Line Breaks:        <br> 
Horizontal Rules:   <hr>
Stylesheet Links:   <link rel="stylesheet" href="my_style.css">

You'll eventually figure out the rules as you continue building web pages. You can also consult the HTML Reference to learn more about the rules of each individual tag.

3. The browser ignores white space

The browser ignores white space, which means that the following line of code:

<h1> My Heading</h1>

is interpreted the same way as:

<h1> My          
      Heading</h1>

or:

<h1> My                  Heading</h1>

4. Make your code readable by indenting and using line breaks

Please don't do this:

<div><p>Welcome, <strong>Leonard</strong></p><ol><li>item 1</li><li>item2</li><li>item 3</li>
</ol></div>

Instead, do this:

<div>
    <p>
        Welcome, <strong>Leonard</strong>
    </p>
    <ol>
        <li>item 1</li>
        <li>item2</li>
        <li>item 3</li>
    </ol>
</div>

5. Attribute syntax

Attributes are always followed by an equals sign and values are surrounded by quotation marks. In the example below, src is the attribute, and my_image is the value. Note that my_image is surrounded by quotes.

<img src="my_image.jpg">

6. Last in, first out (LIFO)

Last in, first out (LIFO) means that you close tags in the opposite order that you opened them in. So, if the last tag you opened was the <strong> tag, make sure you close the strong tag before you close out any other tags.

So do this:

<p>Welcome, 
    <strong>Leonard</strong>
</p>

Not this:

<p>Welcome, 
    <strong>Leonard</p>
</strong>

7. Use comments to help you understand your code

Note that the phrase "Welcome section" is ignored by the browser, but is useful if you're trying to keep track of which section is which in your HTML.

<!-- Welcome Section -->
<div>
    <p>
        Welcome, <strong>Leonard</strong>
    </p>
    <ol>
        <li>item 1</li>
        <li>item 2</li>
    </ol>
</div>

In the HTML code block below, that the link to the style sheet is specified within the <head> tag:

<html>
<head>
   <meta charset="utf-8">
   <title>My first web page</title>
   <link rel="stylesheet" href="styles.css"> 
</head>
<body>
    <!-- YOUR HTML CODE GOES INSIDE THE BODY TAG -->
    <h1>Welcome, Maria!</h1>
    <img src="profile.png">
</body>
</html>

9. All visible content goes inside the <body> tag

In the HTML code block below (same as above), all of the visible content -- including headers, images, paragraphs, videos, audio, etc. -- goes in the <body> tag:

<html>
<head>
   <meta charset="utf-8">
   <title>My first web page</title>
   <link rel="stylesheet" href="styles.css"> 
</head>
<body>
    <!-- YOUR HTML CODE GOES INSIDE THE BODY TAG -->
    <h1>Welcome, Maria!</h1>
    <img src="profile.png">
</body>
</html>

10. Use the Browser Inspector

The browser inspector helps you to inspect HTML, CSS, and JavaScript code from within the browser. This is useful for finding bugs in your code, tinkering with existing code, or exploring others' code. To learn more about using the Browser Inspector here: https://developer.chrome.com/devtools

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