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The Complete Idiot's Guide to Creating an HTML Web Page


The Complete Idiot's Guide to
Creating an
HTML Web Page

by  Paul McFedries

C  O  N  T  E  N  T  S

Chapter 1   The Top Ten Steps to a Perfect Web Page

Chapter 2   It's a Wonderful World Wide Web

Chapter 3   It's a Wonderful World Wide Web

Chapter 4   Laying the Foundation: The Basic Structure of a Web Page

Chapter 5   From Buck-Naked to Beautiful: Dressing Up Your Page

Chapter 6   A Fistful of List Grist for Your Web Page Mill

Chapter 7   Making the Jump to Hyperspace: Adding Links

Chapter 8   A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Clicks: Working with Images

Chapter 9   Publishing Your Page on the Web

Chapter 10   Fooling Around with the Netscape Extensions

Chapter 11  Table Talk: Adding Tables to Your Page

Chapter 12  Need Feedback? Create a Form!

Chapter 13  The Elements of Web Page Style

Chapter 14  Some HTML Resources on the Web

Chapter 15  Hack to the Future: What's Ahead for HTML and the Web

Chapter 16  The Best Free HTML Editor: HTML Writer

Chapter 17  The Best Commercial HTML Editor: HotDog

Chapter 18  The Word Wide Web: Internet Assistant for Microsoft Word

Chapter 19  Getting Your Web Words Online with America Online

Chapter 20  Assorted Other Ways to Create HTML Documents

Speak Like a Geek: The Complete Archive

HTML Codes for Cool Characters


©1996 Que® Corporation

All rights reserved. No part of this book shall be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the publisher. No patent liability is assumed with respect to the use of the information contained herein. Although every precaution has been taken in the preparation of this book, the publisher and author assume no responsibility for errors or omissions. Neither is any liability assumed for damages resulting from the use of the information contained herein. For information, address Que, 201 W. 103rd Street, Indianapolis, IN 46290. You may reach Que's direct sales line by calling 1-800-428-5331.

International Standard Book Number: 0-7897-0722-5

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PublisherRoland Elgey Vice President and Publisher Marie Butler-Knight
Editorial Services Director Elizabeth Keaffaber Publishing Manager Barry Pruett
Managing Editor Michael Cunningham Development Editor Lori Cates
Technical Editor C. Herbert Feltner Production Editor Phil Kitchel
Copy Editors Rebecca Mayfield, Katie Purdum Cover Designers Dan Armstrong, Barbara Kordesh
DesignerKim Scott Illustrations Judd Winick
Technical Specialist Nadeem Muhammed IndexerTom Dinse
Production Team Jason Carr, Anne Dickerson, DiMonique Ford, Trey Frank, Damon Jordan, Glenn Larson, Stephanie Layton, Kaylene Riemen, Julie Quinn, Kelly Warner


Quick! What do the following things have in common? Dennis Rodman's hair color, the name of Elizabeth Taylor's husband, and Oprah's dress size. Right-they're all things that are constantly changing. But as often as these things change, none of them approaches the endless flux that characterizes the Internet.

Ah yes, the Internet; that amorphous and motley collection of electrons, geeks, slashes, and "dot coms." Trying to keep up with the Net Joneses and their relentless out-with-the-old-and-in-with-the-new culture is a full-time job. (In fact, I know some people for whom it is a full-time job!) Here's an example: Only a scant year ago, you were the Coolest of the Cool if you had an Internet e-mail address on your business card. Nowadays, of course, a sizable chunk of the world's Toms, Dicks, and Harriets-nerds and non-nerds alike-have their e-mail monikers plastered all over their cards. Ho hum. No, to be tragically hip these days, your business card must sport the address of-wait for it-your World Wide Web home page!

Which brings me (at long last) to the subject of this book-creating an HTML Web page. You, I'm sure, couldn't care less about what's cool and what's not, or about what's "wired" and what's "tired." All you know is that you want to publish a Web page (or perhaps two or three) and you want to get it done without a lot of hubbub and hullabaloo.

Believe me, you're not alone. People-and I mean average Joes and Josephines; not just programmers and techno-geeks-are overcoming their digital arachnophobia and are clamoring to spin their own little Web webs. Why? Well, there are probably as many reasons as there are would-be Web weavers. Some folks are tired of being passive Internet consumers (mouse potatoes?) and want to produce their own content rather than merely digesting it. Others have information (essays, stories, jokes, diatribes, shopping lists) that they want to share with the world at large, but they never had the opportunity before. Still, others have had a boss come to them and say "Get our company on the World Wide Web now, before it's too late!", and so they have to get up to speed before it's too late for them.

A Book For Smart HTML Idiots

When it comes to producing content for the World Wide Web, a "complete idiot" is someone who, despite having the normal complement of gray matter, wouldn't know HTML from H.G. Wells. This is, of course, perfectly normal and, despite what many so-called Internet gurus may tell you, it does not imply any sort of character defect on your part.

So I may as well get one thing straight right off the bat: the fact that you're reading The Complete Idiot's Guide To Creating an HTML Web Page (my, that is a mouthful, isn't it?) does not make you an idiot. On the contrary, it shows that

This is a book for those of you who aren't (and don't even want to be) Web wizards. This is a book for those of you who have a job or hobby that includes creating Web pages, and you just want to get it done as quickly and painlessly as possible. This is not one of those absurdly pedantic, sober-sided, wipe-that-smile-off-your-face-this-is-serious-business kinds of books. On the contrary, we'll even try to have-gasp!-a little irreverent fun as we go along.

You'll also be happy to know that this book doesn't assume you have any previous experience with Web page production (or even with the World Wide Web, for that matter). This means that you'll begin each topic at the beginning and build your knowledge from there. However, with The Complete Idiot's Guide to Creating an HTML Web Page, you get just the facts you need to know, not everything there is to know. All the information is presented in short, easy-to-digest chunks that you can easily skim through to find just the information you want.

How This Book Is Set Up

I'm assuming you have a life away from your computer screen, so The Complete Idiot's Guide To Creating an HTML Web Page is set up so you don't have to read it from cover to cover. If you want to know how to add a picture to your Web page, for example, just turn to the chapter that covers working with images. (Although, having said that, beginners will want to read at least Chapter 4 before moving on to more esoteric topics.) To make things easier to find, I've organized the book into four more or less sensible sections:

Part 1: But First, a Few Choice World Wide Web and HTML Tidbits

Instead of diving right into the hurly-burly of HTML, the book lets you dip a toe into the Web publishing waters by starting you off with a few introductory chapters. Chapter 1 is a kind of "Cliff Notes" version of Part 2 that takes you through the entire process of Web page production in 10 easy steps. Chapter 2 takes a bird's-eye view of the World Wide Web (beginners will want to start their reading here, instead of Chapter 1) and then Chapter 3 takes a general look at this HTML stuff.

Part 2: Creating Your First HTML Web Page

Here in Part 2 is where you'll actually start creating proper Web pages. Chapters 4 through 8 build your knowledge of basic HTML slowly and with lots of examples. Chapter 9 shows you how to successfully negotiate the big moment: getting your page on the Web itself for all to admire.

Part 3: A Grab Bag of Web Page Wonders

Part 3 takes you beyond the basics by presenting you with a miscellany of HTML topics, including some cool things that are available with Netscape's Web browser (Chapter 10), how to create tables (Chapter 11), some hints on proper Web page style (Chapter 12), and some Internet resources that will help you create great pages (Chapter 13). This section closes by pulling out the crystal ball to take a look at the future of the Web, just so you're prepared for what's to come (see Chapter 14).

Part 4: Painless Page Production: Easier Ways to Do the HTML Thing

After struggling with all that HTML in Parts 2 and 3, Part 4 shows you a few ways to make all this stuff a bit easier. Specifically, I'll show you how to wield several tools that take some of the drudgery out of putting together a Web page, including HTML editors, Word for Windows templates, and even some Web pages that help you create Web pages!

But Wait, There's More!

Happily, there's more to this book than 20 chapters of me yammering away. To round out your HTML education and make your page publishing adventures a bit easier, I've included a few other goodies:

Tearout Reference Card  This card (it's located at the front of the book, in case you missed it on the way in) spells out all the most essential HTML facts and figures. For a ridiculously handy reference, you can tear it out of the book and keep it by your side while you're building your pages.
Speak Like a Geek: The Complete Archive  You'll find this section near the back of the book. It's a glossary of Internet, World Wide Web, and HTML terms that should help you out if you come across a word or phrase that furrows your brow.
HTML Codes for Cool Characters  This section lists many of the HTML codes you can use to incorporate characters such as £, ", and ~ in your Web page. (This is all explained in more detail in Chapter 5.)
HTML Disk  The book's major bonus is the disk that's glued onto the back cover. This little plastic frisbee contains tons of HTML-related knickknacks, including all the HTML examples I use in the book, some sample Web pages, an HTML editor, graphics and sounds you can put in your Web page, and lots more.

Also, as you're trudging through the book, look for the following features that point out important info:

By the Way…
These boxes contain notes, tips, warnings, and asides that provide you with interesting and useful (at least theoretically!) nuggets of HTML lore.

Technical Twaddle
This "Techno Talk" icon points out technical information you can use to impress your friends (and then forget five minutes later).

Let Us Know How You're Doing!

Hey, you paid good money for this book, so it's only reasonable that you should be able to get in touch with its author, right? Sure! So, as long as you have something nice to say (complaints will be cheerfully ignored), why not drop me a line and let me know how your Web page is coming along or, heck, just tell me what you thought of the book. If your page is ready to go, send me its Web address and I'll surf over and take a look. My e-mail address is

If you'd like to drop by my own home page (be sure to sign the guest book), here's the address:

See you in cyberspace!

Acknowledgments (The Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due Department)

The English essayist Joseph Addison once described an editor as someone who "rides in the whirlwind and directs the storm." I don't know if that's true for editors in some of the more sedate publishing nooks (novels and cookbooks and such), but I think it applies perfectly to the rigors of computer book editing. Why? Well, the computer industry (and the World Wide Web in particular) is so fast-paced that any kind of editorial (or authorial) dawdling could mean a book will be obsolete before it even hits the shelves.

The good folks at Que avoid premature book obsolescence by subjecting each manuscript to a barrage of simultaneous edits from a number of specialists (I call it "gang editing"). So a process that normally might take months is knocked down to a few short weeks. This means you get a book that contains timely and relevant information, and a book that has passed muster with some of the sharpest eyes and inner ears in the business. My name may be the only one that appears on the cover, but each of the following people had a big hand in creating what you now hold in your hands:

Martha O'Sullivan-Martha is an Acquisitions Editor at Que, and she's the one who asked me to write this book. (She is, in other words, the one to blame for the whole thing.)
Lori Cates-Lori was the Development Editor for the book. Her job was to make sure the overall structure of the book made sense and to be a sounding board for all my cockamamie ideas.
Herb Feltner-Herb was the book's Technical Editor and it was his job to check my facts and to make sure the procedures I tell you to follow won't lead you astray.
Phil Kitchel-Phil was the Production Editor and it was his job to get the manuscript ready for the production process where the figures are added in, the little icons and pictures are placed just so, and the whole thing is made to look like a true member of the Complete Idiot's family.
Rebecca Mayfield and Katie Purdum-A writer, as Oscar Wilde said, "can survive everything but a misprint." As Copy Editors, it was Rebecca and Katie's job to ensure that no misprints occur, and to clean up my slapdash punctuation and rearrange my slipshod sentence structure.

Besides the editorial team, I'd also like to thank the untold numbers of Web denizens and authors who were only too happy to proffer comments, ideas, advice, and laughs.