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Web Writing

Web Writing

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HTML Writing Guide

Jerry Stratton http://www.hoboes.com/NetLife/Web_Writing/ January 16, 2006
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1; with no Invariant Section, with no Front-Cover Text, and with no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled “GNU Free Documentation License”

HTML is the language of web browsers. Using HTML, you describe what you want your document to look like on the reader’s web browser. Unlike normal desktop publishing, with HTML you only work in generalities, if you know what you’re doing. Rather than specifying exactly what your document looks like, you specify which parts of the document are important, and in what way they’re important. The reader’s browser then takes that information and creates a web page, regardless of whether that browser is a graphical browser on Windows, a text-based browser on Unix, or a voice reader for the blind. When writing HTML, you surround various parts of the text with descriptions of what added meaning you want the text to convey. For example, if you want a word to be emphasized, you surround that word with the ‘emphasis’ HTML code. Almost all HTML ‘markup’ is done by surrounding the words with the code that affects it. The beginning tag is always a word, such as “em”, surrounded by the greater than and less than symbol: <em>. The ending tag is the same thing, but with a slash added: </em>.



The Most Basic Web Document
You need to surround your entire web document with the ‘html’ tag: <html> to begin and </html> to end. You need to surround the top of the document, or document information with the ‘head’ tag: <head> and </head>. You need to surround the ‘body’ or meat of the document with the ‘body’ tag: <body> and </body>.
It’ll look like:
<html> <head> document information </head> <body> the main part of the document </body> </html>

Keywords and Descriptions There are two ‘meta’ tags that set your document’s keywords and description. Meta tags stand on their own: you don’t specify an ending for a meta tag. You make some text your title by surrounding it with the <title> and </title> tag. You should keep it reasonably short and descriptive. It is cool." /> </head> . The tag for your keywords is <meta name="keywords" value="keyword1. It’s for the browser software. "> and the tag for the description is <meta name="description" value="This is a summary of my document. If a ‘web spider’ such as Alta Vista indexes your document. the keywords that are important in your document. keyword3. Title The title of the document is used to bookmark your web page if the reader wants to keep a bookmark of it. keyword2.3 Head Putting text in HTML documents Head The ‘head’ is where document information goes."> Sample <head> <title>A Web Writing Guide: Marking Text</title> <meta name="keywords" value="Web. etc. using basic HTML markup code. this is the title of your document in their index. and the description that summarizes your document. not for the human reading the page. It is also the text that appears in the window bar of graphical web browsers. HTML" /> <meta name="description" value="A guide to creating web documents by hand. This is information about the document itself. You’ll want to give the title of your document.

You can modify your paragraph tag with the align attribute. it specifies layout. . by default. This is true. you will want to center your paragraphs or align them to the right: <p align="right">This is a right-aligned paragraph. Please read carefully. you will want to avoid such attributes in favor of cascading style sheets. Paragraph Tags Paragraph tags affect entire paragraphs of text. If necessary. (Most of them are. when you start using such attributes you are trying to set a style for your web pages.</p> <p align="left">This is a left-aligned paragraph. But that’s a topic for another tutorial. Please read carefully.)</p> <p align="center">This is a centered paragraph. In general.</p> Will end up looking like: This is an HTML paragraph. Marking paragraphs Otherwise normal paragraphs need to be marked with the <p> tag. but many changes always affect entire paragraphs. It usually looks ugly. All of the information that you’re giving to the reader goes in the body. The HTML code: <p>This is an HTML paragraph. it replaces them with a space. Attributes are things that appear inside of tags. If you mean for ‘layout’ changes such as ‘align’ to convey meaning. HTML ignores whatever carriage returns you put into the document. and for this reason you need to be careful using it. Usually. Very much like in your word processor. Style sheets let you do that much more easily. They modify how the text affected by that tag appear on the screen. some changes can be made to individual letters. Since it describes physical layout it will be ignored where that layout makes no sense.</p> You might notice that the “align” attribute does not specify meaning.4 Body Body The body is where the meat of the document goes. good web browsers will only display one space. Often. It also ignores any multiple spaces or tabs: no matter how many spaces you put between two words or at the beginning of a line. that meaning will be lost under certain circumstances.

<blockquote> &ldquo. The headline tag is <h#>.5 Body Marking headlines You have a number of ‘headline levels’ to work with. The highest level headline—which produces the largest text—is level 1.Hey.s just hide from our droogies in this creepy old cellar. For example. Heading tags mean that the marked text is the headline for the following text. You can currently use up to level 6. Let’s just hide from our droogies in this creepy old cellar. But I think you can probably guess what they do by looking at the text they produce! . You can align your headlines in the same way that you align your paragraphs: <h1 align="right">.&rdquo. you’ll often want to set it off from the rest of the text. Marking quotes When you make a quote.s not risk our lives going upstairs to viddie ghosts doing the old in out in out. For example: <h1>This <h2>This <h3>This <h4>This is is is is level level level level 1</h1> 2</h2> 3</h3> 4</h4> The above html code produces something like: This is level 1 This is level 2 This is level 3 This is level 4 You should not use heading tags just to make large text. replacing the ‘#’ with the heading level you want. let’s not risk our lives going upstairs to viddie ghosts doing the old in out in out. let&rsquo. Use the <blockquote> tag.--<cite>Doug Shaw</cite> </blockquote> will produce: “Hey. for example. Scooob. Use the <font> tag to increase text size in nonheadlines if you absolutely must. Let&rsquo.”--Doug Shaw We’ll be getting to that cite thing and what those ‘&’ things are. Scooob. later on.

But I don&rsquo. with you upon my mind. tabs. The tag is <strong>. Be careful doing this: it is usually better (if you have the time) to convert your text-only documents to web documents. and spaces. If you want to keep these spaces in. Here it is. &ldquo. I&rsquo. you’ll need to use the <pre> tag. You may well have a large number of documents formatted in a ‘text only’ format that requires multiple spaces.6 Body Pre-formatted text Web browsers ignore your carriage returns and format your text according to the size of the reader’s screen. <strong>Algernon. tabs.t ever shine<br> Then to be in some big city.” she cried. (Sits on sofa.) Now produce your explanation. Strong The strong tag is usually shown to the readers as bold. They refer to the source of something that you’re quoting or attributing. a citation. To emphasize a word or phrase.&rdquo. This maintains the ends of lines. Marking text You can mark specific parts of your text as emphasized. and multiple carriage returns to keep its formatting. (<em>Hands cigarette case.</strong> Here it is. (<em>Sits on sofa. in a small room.d rather be in some dark hollow where the sun don&rsquo. Web browsers also ignore spaces and tabs at the beginnings of lines. (Hands cigarette case. surround the word or phrase with <em> tag. Becomes: “But I don’t want a cookie.) Citations Citations are also usually shown as italic. and pray make it improbable.<br> --<cite>Dark Hollow</cite> . or a ‘keyboard’ entry.t <em>want</em> a cookie. and pray make it improbable. strong. she cried.</em>) Now produce your explanation.</em>) becomes: Algernon. Emphasis Emphasis is usually shown to the reader as italicized.

"> . you want to specify purely typographical changes with no meaning whatsoever. you can use styles.7 becomes: I’d rather be in some dark hollow where the sun don’t ever shine Then to be in some big city. in a small room. Typographical Changes Most of the HTML tags have some sort of semantic meaning. I use this a lot for tutorials—like this one. Styles can be stored in a separate file so that all of your pages have a similar style. They tell the browser. whether that browser is a graphical web browser or an audio web reader or a cell phone. For example. respectively: Go to 5<sup>th</sup> Street and drop the CO<sub>2</sub> in the first Buick Regal. you can also use styles inside each page by adding a “style” attribute to any tag. to get Go to 5th Street and drop the CO2 in the first Buick Regal. and you can change that style without having to edit every page. with you upon my mind. Styles are a topic all their own. what kind of text is contained by the tag. But for now. in order to say: Type 666 and press return. --Dark Hollow Body From the Keyboard The keyboard tag is for those times when you’re talking about what the reader is doing on their keyboard. For that. you might write: Type <kbd>666</kbd> and press <kbd>return</kbd>. Sometimes. for example—but you may have less use for it. Size If you want your headlines to be really big. give them a font-size style: <h1 style="font-size: 800%. however. Superscript and subscript You can make superscripts and subscripts with the <sup> and the <sub> tags.

<span style="color: green. font-family: koala. color: gold.</p></div> Will give you something like: Hello. They are designed specifically for adding styles. your fake headlines will blend in with the rest of your document. you can specify several fonts.">H</span>ello. their preferred font for that context is used instead.">Kermit</span> <span style="font-size: 150%. border: inset. . monospace. Search engines will not prioritize your page based on your headlines. Color You can also change the color of your text. <h1 style="font-family: American Typewriter. Browsers that output to devices other than screen or printer won't see any difference between your fake headlines and your text. <h1 style="color: green. You should be careful doing this: graphical browsers use colors to let the reader know what a link is.">loves</span> Piggy. The first font that matches a font that the reader’s computer has will be used. If you change the color."><p><span style="font-size: 200%. If they don’t have any of them.zapf chancery."> Styles Without Tags Sometimes you’ll want to add a style where you have no tags. but as far as computers go."> Face You can specify the font itself if you want to use a specific font on your page. <div style="float: right. You can also combine multiple style specifications by separating them with semicolons. it might look the same as creating them with <h> tags. There are two “functionless” tags for this purpose. that can confuse the reader. Kermit loves Piggy. Because you can’t be guaranteed that the reader has the font you specify. because you don't really have any. Courier. The <div> and <span> tags do nothing on their own. There are no guarantees that the reader will see that font. The style for color is “color”. If you create headlines with the style attribute. separated by commas.8 Body You should not use styles tag to create headlines out of paragraphs of other non-headline tags! That's what the <h> tags (<h1> through <h6>) are for. The character-level functionless tag is <span>. The paragraph-level functionless tag is <div>.apple chancery. Always remember that font requests are guidelines for the browser. and whether that link has been visited recently.

and you get: 1. In order to start a list.9 Body Making lists When you want to present the reader with a list of items. 4. 3. and you surround each item with <li>. Ordered Lists An ordered list is numbered. you can use HTML to handle the bullets or to automatically number the items. you use the <ul> tag. Replace the ‘ul’ with ‘ol’ in the above list. <ul> <li>Apple</li> <li>Orange</li> <li>Kumquat</li> <li>Potato</li> <ul> <li>Russet</li> <li>Yellow Fin</li> <li>of the Earth</li> </ul> <li>Tomato</li> </ul> will become:  Apple  Orange  Kumquat  Potato  Russet  Yellow Fin  of the Earth  Tomato Some browsers will use different bullets for each level of the list. Unordered Lists Unordered lists use bullets. 2. and to determine the correct indentation. It looks just like an unordered list except that the list is marked by <ol>. if you ‘nest’ lists as I did above. Apple Orange Kumquat Potato .

and expands the story from 18. Wonderland was published in 1865 with illustrations by Sir John Tenniel. of the Earth 5.s Adventures in Wonderland</dt> <dd><em>Wonderland</em> is a re-telling of <em>Underground</em>.000 to 35. Russet b.”: John &amp. Because the “&” marks the beginning of a special character. Alice’s Adventures Through the Looking Glass The final Alice book was written by Adam Weisshaupt under the auspices of the Bavarian Illuminati in 1893. . Most of these look like “&word.” or “&#number. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Wonderland is a re-telling of Underground.”.</dd> <dt>Alice&rsquo. Yellow Fin c. and expands the story from 18. if you really want an ampersand you’ll want to write it as “&amp.000 words. for example.s Adventures Through the Looking Glass</dt> <dd>The final <em>Alice</em> book was written by Adam Weisshaupt under the auspices of the <em>Bavarian Illuminati</em> in 1893.10 Special Characters a.000 to 35. <em>Wonderland</em> was published in 1865 with illustrations by <em>Sir John Tenniel</em>. You will often want to use the strong or emphasis tag along with the definition term (<dt>) to make it stand out.</dd> </dl> will become something like: Alice’s Adventures Underground The first Alice book was written between 1862 and 1864 by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson as a tale for the three Liddell girls.</dd> <dt>Alice&rsquo. Mary.000 words. Special Characters Some text characters don’t use standard beginning and ending tags. Surround the definition list with the tag <dl>. <dl> <dt>Alice&rsquo. Mark the terms with <dt> and the definitions with <dd>.s Adventures Underground</dt> <dd>The first <em>Alice</em> book was written between 1862 and 1864 by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson as a tale for the three Liddell girls. Tomato Definition Lists A definition list is like a dictionary entry: each item has a term and a definition.

John said. &ldquo. you are specifying some real meaning: that this is a quote. “left double quote”. Quote ‘ ’ “ ” Thus. but for those that don’t need any text between the beginning and end you can imply an immediate ending with <TAG />. and the web took a long time to catch up. Mary. All HTML tags require an end.Hello. &rsquo. That final slash tells the browser that this tag is its own ending. you don’t have to do that sort of thing any more. they are simply methods of displaying specific characters. ``Hello. it is its own end. It's nice seeing you!'' Fortunately. and “right double quote”.s nice seeing you!&rdquo. Use the following special codes for curly quotes: Code &lsquo. Forcing Line Breaks If you need to force line breaks. not the geeks): John said. This is the <q> tag. You would occasionally even see silliness such as. Copyrights Use ‘&copy. and it begins and ends here. “Hello. in the past.’ to place a copyright symbol: ©. will appear as it is supposed to: John said. &rdquo. “right single quote”. It's nice seeing you!" That’s because. John said. They tend to look pretty stupid (the quotes. "Hello. respectively. Even though this looks like a normal tag. The ampersand codes to not convey any meaning. Mary. you can use the <br /> tag. there is no ‘end’ to this tag. There is another way of showing quotes that is conceptually better. By surrounding a quote with the <q> tag. . &ldquo. It&rsquo. computers couldn’t display normal quotes. but it is still not well supported. Mary. It’s nice seeing you!” These are easy to remember as “left single quote”. Mary. More specifically.11 Special Characters Quotes Most computer geeks use “straight” quotes.

GIF is better for simple drawings. and JPEG is better for photographs. you can put them inside your web documents.gif" /> If you want to show off an image that isn’t on your personal site. PNG is going to take over from GIF. you’ll use your web browser to look at the image. This somewhere else can be another part of your document. In the future. a link is a connection to somewhere else. or even another document on someone else’s web site. Pointing to the picture Pointing to a picture is like most other things in html.12 Image Links What are Links? On the web. another document on your web site. Your pictures should be in ‘gif’ or ‘jpeg’ format.gif’ in your web site. The URL is what goes in between the straight quotes on “src”. and ‘JPEG’ uses smaller files (saving quota on your account. you could point to it with: <img src="mom.gif" /> This only works if the image is in the same folder as your web page. if you are charged for extra disk space). because that’s what most web browsers can read. Image Links If you have pictures on your web site. except that there isn’t an ‘end’ tag. a picture. If the image is in a separate folder. It is often a good idea to store your images in a separate folder just to keep things neat. In . If you call the folder “pictures”. use: <img src="pictures/mom. ‘GIF’ is more widely known. The ‘picture’ tag (called an image) is: <img src="wherethepictureis" /> If you have a picture called ‘mom. you have to specify the site where the image is: <img src="http://sitename/image" /> Usually. In general. and for the most part you can use PNG now if you wish to. You can also use any picture accessible on the net! You will of course want to use this ability responsibly: always make sure you have permission to use someone else’s work. and then get the image’s location. you have to specify the folder as well. or URL.

com/Graphics/Cerebus. Web browsers treat top. The rest will be underneath the image. bottom. however. . If you want something else to be displayed. or they might want you to do something special with it.hoboes.jpg" /> Always check with the image owner before doing something like this! They might not want you using their image. with the top of the image at the same level as the next new line.jpg" align="middle" />Negative Space! You should only want to <em>align</em> top.) A menu will pop up. (For Windows computers. You can. bottom. or with something else. you can find an image’s location by holding the mouse button down while the mouse is over the image. bottom. This aligns the image to the left or right side of the viewer’s page. Alternate text for the image A lot of people don’t have graphical interfaces to the net. which aligns the image’s top. This points to the Negative Space logo no matter where the web page is: <img src="http://www. ‘bottom’.jpg" alt="The Negative Space Logo" /> You’ll need to be careful that your alternate text makes sense next to whatever normal text you’ve got the picture near. or middle with the text’s top. The addition of ‘clear’ causes the line to break and resume at the bottom of the current image. you can have the text of a page wrap nicely around your pictures. and one of the items is to “copy” the image location.hoboes. When someone without a graphical interface gets a page that has pictures on it. include the attribute alt="alternate text to be displayed" in your img tag. the pictures are replaced with the word [IMAGE]. hold the right mouse button down. like always link back to their page. or middle with short text. bottom. You’ll probably usually want ‘middle’: <img src="http://www. And remember who your alternate text is for: people or computers that are not downloading your image. ‘Bottom’ is the default. Long text will wrap around in an ugly manner—only the first line will be aligned. Here’s how to align text to your picture: <img src="picture" align="alignment" /> The alignment can be ‘top’. or middle. <img src="/Graphics/Cerebus.com/Graphics/Cerebus.13 Image Links graphical web browsers. You can force it to stop wrapping with the <br clear="all" /> tag. Using ‘left’ and ‘right’. or middle of the image. or ‘middle’. albeit a large one. Aligning text to the image You can align the text next to the image to the top. bottom. and middle-aligned image as if they were just another text character. also align with ‘left’ or ‘right’. with nothing.

readers will be able to “click” that text to get to that page. In graphical browsers. <a href="filename. The ‘tag’ is ‘a’. You might decide.gov">The Vice President of the United States</a> This allows any of your readers to send e-mail directly to the President or Vice President just as if they were visiting another web page.14 Linking to other documents on your site Hypertext: Linking to other places When you link to other places on the net. they are transported to the new file. so you have to put ‘%20’ wherever a space should appear. You can’t have spaces in a ‘URL’.hoboes. The ‘clickable’ text usually appears blocked out or in color to the reader.hoboes. When the reader selects this type of link. The attribute ‘href’ specifies the page you’re anchoring to. You can link to these other documents on your site in the same way that you make links to e-mail addresses.com/Politics/electednet/) is something that your readers should be able to get to. if you would like your readers to send e-mail to president@white-house. you can add “?Subject=This%20is%20my%20Subject” to the end of the address.html.com/Politics/electednet/"> FireBlade Mail Your Rep</a> page!</a> The above example will “link” the words “FileBlade Mail Your Rep” to the web page listed in the “href” option. that means you’re showing your readers the ‘way’ to get there. which stands for ‘anchor’.gov. For example. Mailing to someone You can also link to an e-mail address. You’ll ‘link’ to that page from your document. They’ll “click” and write their message. you would use: <a href="mailto:president@white-house. Your web page filenames should always (if it is an html file) end in . <a href="mailto:president@white-house.html">Click here for the file</a>. you’ll have more than one web page on your web site. for example. You are ‘anchoring’ this text to another page on the net. When the reader selects that link. The <a href="http://www. they’ll be able to send a message to the address you linked. and they’ll be able to click on your link and go directly to the mail your rep page without having to know its address on the net.gov?Subject=Vote%20Libertarian">The President of the United States</a> Linking to other documents on your site Generally.gov">The President of the United States</a> <a href="mailto:vice-president@white-house. If you want to specify a subject for the message. that the FireBlade Mail Your Rep page (http://www. .

Any page that is called ‘index.com/. Just like with images.hoboes.hoboes. if the web page you’re linking to is not on your web site.html is better addressed as simply http://www. . but the best web servers do it that way).com/Search.html’ left out of the address. which is usually in the upper part of your web browser. If the web pages are in different folders.html">Search the Great Negative Space!</a> You can point to most any Internet site from inside your web pages. You can find the ‘href’ for any site you’ve visited by looking in the ‘location’ box.15 Linking to other people’s documents That form only works if the new web page is in the same folder as the web page that is doing the linking. Your main page should almost always be called ‘index.com/index.html">The link text</a> For example. These are the ‘main pages’ of that area of that web site. you have to specify what web site it is on: <a href="http://sitename/filename. For example. you would have to include the site name: <a href="http://www.hoboes. you’ll have to specify the full ‘path’ to the new page: <a href="/folder/filename.html’ but instead end in ‘/’.html’ can have the ‘index. if you wanted to link to the Negative Space search page from your web site. This ‘html code’ links to the search page on Negative Space: <a href="/Search.html’ (it depends on your web server.html">Click here for the file</a>. http://www.html">Search Negative Space</a> Linking to other people’s documents You can also link to web pages on other web sites. You’ll often see ‘URL’s which don’t end in ‘.

Remember that there are lots of different web browsers out there. You should be careful with tables. You’ll almost always work with them by row rather than by column. bottom.16 Sample Tables Web tables allow you to create fairly complex pages. Headers tend to be marked off with bold and special alignment. By default. You can specify the ‘align’ or ‘valign’ of your cells just like you can the rows. you can easily make a web page that can’t be read by anyone but you. The tag for a header cell is <th> and </th>. The alignment of a cell takes precedence over any alignment specified for the row the cell is in. They’re so simple to create. text is centered up and down. but tables themselves are basically quite simple. You can specify the alignment of the text in that row with ‘align=’ left. you’ll surround your rows with <tr> and </tr>. you surround the text you’re putting in the table with ‘<table>’ and ‘</table>’. right. where data is just normal text. so that if you have three columns. The tag is ‘table’. and just like any other tag. the line in the one-line cells will be in the center of the cell. Table Cells There are two types of table cells: headers and data. or center. The tag for a normal ‘data’ cell is <td> and </td>. Within the <table> and </table>. some of them that don’t even use computer screens. Simpler is almost always better! Table Rows HTML tables are made up of ‘rows’ and ‘columns’. Sample Here’s a simple table that corresponds fruit to colors: <table> <tr><th>Fruit</th><th>Color</th></tr> <tr><td>Apple</td><td>Red</td></tr> <tr><td>Orange</td><td>Orange</td></tr> <tr><td>Lemon</td><td>Yellow</td></tr> </table> . or middle to specify the vertical alignment of the cells in this row. Specify ‘valign=’ top. You might also need to specify the up/down alignment. and one column has three lines and the other two have one line.

Text wraps around it on the right. You can specify a ‘border’ of ‘0’ to have no visible borders. your tables have either no visible border.17 It produces a table that looks like: Fruit Apple Color Red Table Width Orange Orange Lemon Yellow Table Borders By default. Here’s a table that is set off to the right. size ‘1’. you can specify the ‘width’ of the table to be a certain percentage. or small visible borders. A right-aligned table appears on the right of the computer screen. or a ‘border’ of ‘1’ or greater for borders of increasing thickness. Text wraps around it on the left. <table border="0"> Aligning Your Tables You can align your tables with ‘left’ and ‘right’. A table tag that says “<table width="100%">” will . A left-aligned table appears on the left of the computer screen. with thicker borders: <table align="right" border="3"> <tr><th>Fruit</th><th>Color</th></tr> <tr><td>Apple</td><td>Red</td></tr> <tr><td>Orange</td><td>Orange</td></tr> <tr><td>Lemon</td><td>Yellow</td></tr> </table> Fruit Apple Color Red Orange Orange Lemon Yellow Table Width If you need your table to take up a specific amount of the screen.

you can’t specify that the first cell in row one is 50% of the table width. and then specify that the first cell in row two is 33% of the table width. but that’s for a more advanced lesson. You can do the same thing to your cells: <td width="50%"> will make that cell take up half the table’s width. whereas “<table width="33%">” will take up a third of the computer screen.18 Table Width span the entire width of the computer screen.) So. The browser will have to ignore one of them. . All cells in any column must be the same width! (There are special ways around this.

but <em>post</em> is the standard. The method has to be post. and sends it to you. The Form Tag Forms get marked just like anything else in HTML. Usually. you’ll have to have the results of the form e-mailed to you. . With a group of radio buttons (radio types with the same name). It’s a lot like a paper form. If they don’t. or you can send it to a special web-based computer program. A radio button. forms go through a special web program called a ‘CGI’ that takes the form data.19 What can forms ask for? What are Forms? A form is a way for other people to easily give you information. You can have the following input types.cgi"> <em>the text of the form</em> <input type="submit" value="Submit This Form" /> </form> The form tag has two attributes: method. The “name” of your input type can be whatever you want. the user can select only one radio button within that group. With a group of checkboxes. You can send it to an e-mail address. You need to surround your form with the <form> tag. you can just specify your e-mail address: mailto:username@wherever. And they do it with—guess what?—an input tag: <input type="input type" name="input name" value="default value" /> The input type describes how you want the data to be entered. and action. <form method="post" action="mailto:username@domain"> Replace username@domain with your full e-mail address. Action The action attribute tells the reader’s web browser where to send this information. What can forms ask for? Forms ask for input. You’ll almost never need the others. There are other methods. the user can select any number of checkboxes within that group. If your web service provider doesn’t have a generic computer program for you to use. formats it. <input type="checkbox" name="cb" /> <input type="radio" name="rd" /> A checkbox. Ask your web service provider if they have any generic forms for you to use. as in: <form method="post" action="/cgi-bin/GenericEMailForm.

find out if your web service provider has a default generic form CGI. There are two other ways of getting data that don’t use the input tag: <textarea name="TextArea" rows="3" cols="40">A Text Box</textarea> <select name="select"> <option selected>A</option> <option>List</option> <option>of</option> <option>Items</option> </select> And there are two control ‘buttons’: <input type="submit" value="Submit Data!" /> <input type="reset" value="Reset to Defaults" /> A button that the user can press to submit the data. or your reader won’t have any way to send you the form info once they’ve filled it out! Be careful with the “Reset” type.20 What can forms ask for? with the same name). The value is the default value of that form field. as it makes it very easy for your users to mistakenly erase all of their hard work! The input tag has a ‘name’ attribute and a ‘value’ attribute. and the reader checks that box. You might even have more than one ‘computer’ checkbox that the reader can check. you’ll get the result Computer=IBM-PC when the form is mailed to you. The name is the name of the form field when it gets returned to you. <input type="text" name="tx" /> A line of text. A button that the user can press to erase all the data they have entered and return to the defaults you have set. You have to have at least one ‘submit’ button for each form. A Text Box A list of items that the user chooses from. For better results. If you have a checkbox with the name ‘Computer’ and value ‘IBM-PC’ in your form. . resulting in a set of results: Computer=IBM-PC 486&Computer=Macintosh IIcx&Computer=Newton 100 Yes. Forms weren’t really designed to be e-mailed. the value is the text that the reader types into the box. this looks pretty ugly. For the text input type. the user can select only one radio button within that group.

This will produce checkboxes that allow the reader to select any number of computer types. On a graphical interface. Since only one radio button can be selected at one time. checkboxes are boxes that the reader can ‘check’ by clicking the mouse. you should only preselect one button in any group. . you will notice that the Macintosh IIcx option is already checked. The web browser knows what group each button belongs to by the name: each “fruit” button has the name “Fruit”. and each “topping” button has the name “Topping”. The reader can only select one fruit and one topping at a time. The reader will have to uncheck those if they don’t want them checked. You might have the reader select what fruit they want you to throw at them. Radio Buttons Radio buttons are like checkboxes.<br /> <input type="checkbox" name="Computer" value="None" />I don’t have a computer. <input type="radio" name="Fruit" value="Orange" />Squishy Orange <input type="radio" name="Fruit" value="Apple" checked />Rotty Apple <input type="radio" name="Fruit" value="Banana" />Infested Banana<br> <input type="radio" name="Topping" value="Reddi-Whip" />Reddi-Whip <input type="radio" name="Topping" value="Cool Whip" />Cool Whip <input type="radio" name="Topping" value="Cheez Wiz" />Cheez Wiz <input type="radio" name="Topping" value="TV Brand" />TV Brand Whipped Topping The above html code will create radio buttons for “fruit” and “topping”.21 Radio Buttons Checkboxes You use checkboxes to allow the reader to select any number of options from a list of options. <input type="checkbox" name="Anonymity" value="Yes" />Would you like to remain anonymous?<br /> <input type="checkbox" name="Computer" value="IBM 486" />I have an IBM ‘486<br /> <input type="checkbox" name="Computer" value="Macintosh IIcx" checked />I have a Macintosh IIcx<br /> <input type="checkbox" name="Computer" value="None of the above" />I don’t have any of those. except that only one radio button can be selected in any group of radio buttons. You can pre-check as many checkboxes as you want. and what brand of whipped topping they want in their face. The Rotty Apple fruit is the default—it’s preselected with the checked option. When you type this in. Your users will only be able to select one fruit and one topping. That’s because we included the checked option inside its input tag.

So if you use the value attribute here.22 Selecting from lists Lines of text You’ll often want the reader to fill out some sort of text: their name or their e-mail address. </textarea> And the reader sees a box with four rows and 30 columns that they can type multiple lines into. Jr. The select tag produces a pull-down menu of choices. for instance. <option>James Earl Carter. If you want to accept lots of text. a collection of radio buttons can get unwieldy and completely fill up your page. Please tell us your name: <input type="text" name="Name" /><br /> Please tell us your e-mail address: <input type="text" name="E-Mail" /> The value of a “text” input type is whatever the reader types into the box. You can control the height (rows) and width (columns) of the <em>textarea</em> with the ‘rows’ and ‘cols’ attribute. Selecting from lists When there are large numbers of options to choose from. <option selected>Abraham Lincoln</option> etc. which they can edit or replace. You can also specify the size and the maximum length of the line.</option> <option>Ronald Wilson Reagan</option> <option>George Herbert Walker Bush</option> . The size is the width of the displayed box. and another tag to mark the beginning of each selection: <select name="President"> <option>George Washington</option> <option>John Adams</option> <option>Thomas Jefferson</option> etc. you have to surround the default text with the <textarea> tag: <textarea name="Essay" rows="4" cols="30"> Please type your essay here. and the maximum length is the maximum number of characters the reader can type in. The textarea tag is a normal html tag. The marking resembles lists. Please tell us your zip code: <input type="text" name="Zip" value="49421" size="5" maxlength="5" /> Accepting lots of text The input type of text only accepts one line of text. you’ll need to use the textarea tag. in that you have one tag to surround the selections. that value is displayed as the default.

The reset type allows the user to re-set all the form values back to their defaults. Sending it all in You’ve got two other ‘buttons’ that can be used to control the form. in this case) is the default selection. if they want to easily start filling out the form from scratch. You have to have a submit input type (unless you don’t want anyone sending the form anywhere useful) and you can also have a reset input type. mix and match your dream ticket! Normally. when pressed.23 <option>William Jefferson Clinton</option> </select> Sending it all in Go ahead. sends the form back to you. You can specify any one of the items as the default by adding the attribute selected after the option tag. The submit type is a button that. <input type="submit" value="Submit This Form!" /> <input type="reset" value="Erase What You Said!" /> . the first item in the list (George Washington. as we did here with Abraham Lincoln.

com/jerry/) . If you have any comments.com/.24 Sending it all in More Information Congratulations! You now know how to create some pretty cool web documents.hoboes.com/Mimsy/?ART=129) And have fun writing! Jerry (http://www.hoboes.com/NetLife/Software.hoboes.com/Mimsy/?ART=116) Webmaster in a Nutshell (http://www.jerrystratton.hoboes.hoboes.com/NetLife/) Recommended Reading for the Internet (http://www. look for: HTML: The Definitive Guide (http://www.com/Mimsy/?ART=95) Recommended Software for the Net (http://www.shtml) Neon Alley (http://www.shtml) Cascading Style Sheets and HTML (http://www.hoboes. For further information. please let me know at http://www.com/NetLife/bookstore.hoboes.

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