How Web Pages Work

Viewing Page Source

Let's take a look at the "guts" of a Web page. This is the original text and HTML tags typed by the author and interpreted by the browser to produce the Web page you actually SEE on the Internet. With your mouse, right-click on any blank portion of this page and choose "View Source." A new window will appear, displaying words and characters, some of which may look pretty technical and foreign. These words and characters are, collectively, the HTML programming code you are about to learn. Each element within that code is known as an HTML tag. Don't be intimidated by how complex it looks -- you'll be surprised at how easy it really is. When you are done looking at the page's source code, simply close out the source page to return to this article.

You can look "behind the scenes" of almost any page on the Internet this way. When you become more involved in Web designing, you'll probably find yourself viewing the sources of complicated Web pages in order to learn the codes that the authors, or page designers, used to create such interesting arrangements.


Now, let's learn what many of the tags mean, and start creating a simple page.

The HTML Tag

An HTML tag is a code element that tells the Web browser what to do with your text. Each tag will appear as letters or words between a < (less than sign) and a > (greater than sign).

Example: <center><body>

To tell the Web browser to "end" doing what you just told it to do, a forward slash is used in the closing tag:

Example: </center></body>

Most tags come in matched "beginning" and "ending" pairs, but this is not an absolute rule.

Any Web page you create will contain the following tags at the start of the page:

  • <HTML>: tells the Web browser that this is the beginning of an HTML document
  • <HEAD>: tells that Web browser that this is the header for the page (you'll learn later what goes between "HEAD" tags)
  • <TITLE>: tells the Web browser that this is the title of the page
  • <BODY>: tells the Web browser that this is the beginning of the Web page content -- everything you want to say and see on your page will follow this tag.

The tags needed to end any Web page are:

  • </BODY>
  • </HTML>

In the next section we'll find out how to create a simple web page.