How to Set Up an HTML Web Page in Notepad

When you first create a Web page, you need to do a certain amount of setup. Working directly in HTML using Notepad, you must enter the needed tags yourself. The tags you have to create in Notepad are of five types, each serving a distinct function:

  • Begin and end HTML: Though your Web page will almost certainly work without them, it’s good form to begin and end your Web page with the <html> and </html> tags.

  • Getting a head: Your Web page begins with “head” information, which is information that describes the entire page. With one exception, it’s processed before anything visible shows up on the Web page. Surround the head area with the <head> and </head> tags.

  • Granting your page a title: The title of a Web page was originally meant to be descriptive information for search engines and other programs that crawl the Web. But early Web browsers began displaying the title at the top of a Web page, and now it’s noticed by Web users, so it’s important you get it right. The title, in the head area, is surrounded by the <title> and </title> tags.

  • Growing a body: Body information is everything the user sees on the Web page, including text, formatting, and links. The opening <body> tag comes right after the closing </head> tag. The body area is terminated by the </body> tag, and the entire Web page is then closed by the </html> tag.

  • Meta tags: Meta tags are “meta-information,” that is, information about the Web page as a whole. For instance, CoffeeCup automatically inserts the standard information, <meta http-equiv="content-type" content="text/html;charset=UTF-8"/>. Meta tags, once used heavily by search engines, are now less used or even ignored. Today, the best way to use meta tags is for the information of yourself or others who might look at the HTML code to tell what the page is about. If meta tags help a search engine along the way, great.

  • Comments: Comments are notes to yourself or future Web authors who might look at the HTML. A typical comment is something like <!-Created in December 2008 by Bud Smith>. While it’s a good idea to add comments in HTML if you do it consistently, there’s also a school of thought that says it’s better to put the energy into good, clean, understandable HTML code and a better page design.

Create a model HTML page that you can open anytime you want to start a new Web page without re-entering the “same old” initial tags. To make sure the model HTML page stays unchanged, right-click on the file icon and choose Properties from the menu that appears. In the Properties dialog box that appears, check the Read-only check box. This will ensure that, when you open, change, and then save the file, you’re forced to save it under a new name, leaving the original file unchanged.

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