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Bio: Verily Valerie
Valerie is a 39-year-old, single, Reformed Christian lady who lives in Baltimore. She doesn't remember a time before she knew and loved Jesus, but she does remember accepting John Calvin into her heart in March of 2000. Valerie is a member of Christ Reformed Evangelical Church in Annapolis.

Though her career aspiration is to be a housewife, Valerie has not yet found anyone suitable who wishes to hire her for employment in that field (or, more properly, anyone suitable has not found her), so in the meantime she earns her daily bread working in communications editing, writing, print design and website management.

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Survival-Level HTML
for the Noetically Challenged

Ever wonder, when you're writing a post on some forum or blog, how some posters manage to make their text bold or italicized? Although some forums and commenting programs have specialized code written just for that application, many use HTML code. HTML, hypertext mark-up language, is the computer code in which many websites are written.

Text Style Tags
Following are the most basic text style formatting elements, or tags, that you will want to know to be able to comment on blogs or forums that allow HTML:

  • <b>bold</b> = bold
  • <i>italic</i> = italic
  • <s>strikethrough</s> = strikethrough

NOTE: Not all software accepts all tags. Strikethrough, for instance, is often not available.

Each tag has angle brackets (less-than and greater-than signs) with stuff in the middle. Kind of like a sandwich. ("Ahhh," I can hear someone sigh, "this computer stuff isn't scary arcane gnosticism after all. It's food!") Also, each text style tag must be opened (that's the bit at the beginning in the brackets without the slash) and closed (that's the bit at the end in the brackets with the slash). Your text is the meat (or the peanut butter, for you vegetarian types) that goes between the bread of the opening tag and the closing tags.

If you want to apply more than one style to some text, you can put the open tags in any order, but you must close the tags in the opposite order:

  • <b><i>bold italic</i></b> = bold italic
  • <i><b>bold italic</b></i> = bold italic
  • <i><s>italic strikethrough</s></i> = italic strikethrough
  • <s><b><i>bold italic strikethrough</i></b></s> = bold italic strikethrough

For you literary types, just remember that html tags are chiastic. ( "Ahhh," I can hear someone sigh, "this computer stuff isn't scary mathematical incomprehensibility after all. It's poetry!")

HELPFUL HINT: Did someone leave a tag open three comments above yours? Close the tag twice in case they opened it twice:

  • e.g., </b></b>

Line and Paragraph Breaks
Some software creates line and paragraph breaks automatically. Other software makes you do it yourself:

  • <br> ===> line break
  • <p> ===> new paragraph

Just the one tag will do...you don't need an opening and closing pair of tags.

OK, here's the most complicated thing I've got for you. Like text style tags, link tags have to be opened and closed, but the opening tag has other stuff in it:

Let's break that down a bit:

  • In the opening tag there's a, which stands for anchor;
  • a space;
  • href, which stands for hypertext reference;
  • an equals sign (=);
  • and the quote marks " ",
  • which surround the URL, which stands for Universal Resource Locator.
  • The "meat" can be the URL again or any other text.
  • And then in the closing tag there's just a slash and an a (/a).

And then there are e-mail links:

Important! Do not forget to close the quotes on the URL or the e-mail address! Not only will you mess up your post, you might break the whole form. That's what happened here. See that very last comment? If you look under the hood (i.e., check the source code) you'll see that "I've linked it" is supposed to say "I've linked it here" with the "here" turned into a link, but the commenter forgot the second double quote mark. You can also read the two extra comments that didn't show up due to the busted code.

Indenting and Centering
There are a couple different ways to indent, depending on the kind of text you're working on:

To indent a whole paragraph, use the <blockquote></blockquote> tag (again, with your text between the two tags):

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Donec sed velit. Proin a massa et ipsum sodales congue. Vivamus porttitor consequat pede. Duis sodales tempus dui. Ut faucibus tortor. Sed ligula. Sed quam mi, mollis ut, lacinia quis, tincidunt eget, purus. Ut vitae augue. Suspendisse potenti. Mauris consequat. Morbi consectetuer ipsum bibendum purus.

To indent just one line, don't use tags, use a non-breaking space (&nbsp;) or a string of nonbreaking spaces (&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;) to get as much of an indent as you want. Don't forget the ampersand and the semicolon!

     line starting with five non-breaking spaces
                      line starting with twenty-two non-breaking spaces
          line starting with ten non-breaking spaces

For you literary types, again, non-breaking spaces are very helpful for formatting poetry.

To center text, use the <center></center> tag (again, with your text between the two tags):

Clowns to the left of me,
Jokers to the right, here I am,
Stuck in the middle with you.

As with text formatting, if you are using muliple tags, you must close the tags in the opposite order. So, for instance, if you've bolded or italicized the last line you've blockquoted or centered, you must close the blockquote or center tag after you close the bold or italic tag.

Well, kids, that's about it for survival-level HTML. There's fancier stuff you can do, but you'll have to find that yourself. Just Google for html tutorial or basic html or something along those lines, and you'll find loads of info. Just remember that it might not all work in a given application. If the application creator or the site owner has been kind enough to tell you which tags will work, yay. If not, your only hope is trial-and-error. Unless you're my brother, in which case you may call me again for more help. ;-)

Happy coding!

Page created April 14, 2006
Last updated June 14, 2008