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Weekend Project: Get a Handle on HTML

Tools like WordPress and Blogger and pretty much all online editors now provide us with WYSIWYG tools.

The HTML editorThat’s excellent for those of us who are less technical—like me! But visual editors like the one in WordPress can tempt us to copy and paste content from another program, like Word.

Even if we type directly into the content window, as I’m doing now as I write this post, if we only know how to use the visual editor, we can make what seem irrevocable errors (or edits!) as we format and style the content using the buttons on the toolbar.

For this reason, we’ve wanted to publish an HTML-for-bloggers guide here at ProBlogger for some time. And now we are.

Why bother?

If you’re not as familiar with HTML as you could be, you may hit a few problems in your blogging:

  • making small errors that are time-consuming to fix and solve
  • having trouble correcting issues that arise in guest submissions
  • not being able to check the content of links—which can be disastrous if they’re affiliate links or promotions
  • failing to present your content in a consistent or professional way, which undermines your blog’s credibility.

These are just a few of the potential everyday problems you face if you don’t know the basics of HTML. But the fact is that to grow your blog, you will definitely need to know how to encode a link, style text, and more—and that means you need to understand a little HTML.

Get a handle on HTML

This weekend, Matt Setter’s going to introduce us in a straightforward, simple way, to the basics of HTML. Over the next two days, he’ll show us what HTML looks like, and step through the main elements you need to know to set up and format posts to perfection.

This two-post mini-series will help you get a handle on the code behind your posts so that you can trouble-shoot formatting and content issues yourself, quickly, as they arise. It will also, I hope, inspire you to find out a bit more about the language.

At the end of each post (or the series) feel free to add a comment about the main problems you have with encoding posts and content on your blog—I’m sure Matt will be pleased to answer your questions, perhaps in an extra post if needed!

To get started, I’d love to know how you’d rate your understanding of HTML basics. Do you usually use your blog platform’s WYSIWYG editor, or its HTML editor, to edit and format posts? Let us know in the comments—and enjoy this weekend’s project!

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Martin says:

    I prefer to write my blog posts in HTML, as it gives me more control over the formatting and layout.

  2. Chris Wolak says:

    I’ve gotten completely lazy using Blogger’s editor, but I used to know a little bit more than the basics. For years I maintained my partner’s art-based website and then created a much simpler one from scratch, but it’s been probably seven years since then. I remember enough to fix or add little things, but would like to be more savvy.

  3. Caylie Price says:

    Hi Darren and Matt,
    I’d be over the moon thrilled if you could show step by step:
    *where to get code from in Aweber for an opt in box to be put below all my posts
    *where the paste the code in my template files to make it happen
    Thanks so much! Looking forward to learning more!
    Caylie

  4. Coach Kip says:

    Great idea in helping bloggers learn basic HTML. Not only do I blog but I help others with their site. I spend a lot of time trouble shooting with simple HTML errors that are compounded when they try to edit and re-edit with a text editor such as word. Adding in all those extra formatting characters is a nightmare.

    The two biggest things that I would like to see, and I will send my students to read, is:
    Explanation of why there are extra characters in text editing programs such as word and how they affect their posts
    Simple formatting of posts beyond the simple formatting in WordPress. How to make your headlines, lists, and creative text pop in a post.

    Thanks for all the work you do, I always learn something when I am on the site.

  5. mario says:

    Been online since old daus, and first websites I created were hand written bunch of html and other codes.

    Nowadays, thise skills are not required, but are huge advamtage in blogging. Besides html, there’s also css and php which every blogger should understand.

    Thumbs up PB for bringing up this topic.

  6. Herman says:

    Would really like to know how you put tables using HTML on my wordpress blog, I have tried it so many times and it just does not show up.

  7. christine says:

    I’m very excited for this! I’m dreadful with HTML and have tried beginning to learn but I’m not even sure where to start.

  8. Jonathan says:

    Knowing basic HTML is useful for any bloggers. It has helped me tweak my blog and make it look more professional.

  9. Ehsan Ullah says:

    I’m sure this week’s project is going to help lots of bloggers who wants to learn the basics of HTML. I also have few problems related to HTML, but I’ll ask it from Matt at the end of the series.

  10. Roman says:

    I’ve learned a cosiderable amount of HTML but can’t code directly. I use the WYSIWYG editor and then switch to HTML editor to review the code and make corrections. That way I know enough to be dangerous but don’t need the skill of a coder.

  11. Kelly Lux says:

    I desperately need to learn HTML…have been putting it off forever and it’s incredibly frustrating when I can even fix something as simple as an extra line inserted in a post. Looking forward to this, thanks!

  12. Claudia says:

    I learned HTML at some point but decided to start up on WordPress.com to focus on writing in stead of coding. If there are specific things in WordPress I would like to know about them before I switch to .org – in view of Herman’s comment about tables. Are there HTML layouts which WordPress does not accept?

  13. Brett Kelly says:

    If you ask me, a non-technical blogger’s best friend is Markdown (http://daringfireball.net/projects/markdown/). It lets you write in a simple syntax that converts to valid HTML. Tons of Mac and iOS apps support Markdown. I compose my blog posts in Byword on my Mac and/or iPad, convert them to HTML (which Byword does natively) and then add them to WordPress where I do any final tweaking that needs doing. Learning Markdown is far simpler than learning HTML, IMO.

    Tangentially-related PSA: never, ever, *ever* compose your blog posts directly in your WordPress admin area. Write them in a text editor first, get them the way you want, then paste them into WordPress. Reason being, WordPress has a nasty habit of completely eating things at the most inopportune times. It’s happened to me and it may have happened to you.

  14. Karl Gephart says:

    Great article! Anyone who hopes to successfully blog by just using a visual editor is blogging with one arm tied behind their back. I freelance with several clients and there are many aspects to successful blogging–layout (CSS–HTML is really too basic for visual effects), SEO’ing the HTML and the rest of the post metadata, and researching and writing valuable, original content in a grammatically correct and interesting way.

  15. Tony says:

    Great post, Darren! You’re so right – no a little bit of HTML, and you can easily solve all the small problems on your own.

  16. Tiff says:

    I know…..just enough. I can’t imagine how hard it is for people who don’t know the bare bones. Both the posts were great and they will help me TONS!

  17. Shelby says:

    Agree it’s important to know at least the basics of HTML – looking forward to the next few posts!

  18. Will says:

    I would love to know how to tweak my blogs more. I use word press and used to know more about HTML but if you don;t use it you lose it.Great post.

  19. Shelby Roth says:

    Very interesting tools especially learning more about the weekend project; I’m sure this sound much of help to most bloggers who wants to learn the basics of HTML. I love the site contents. Thank you!

  20. I agree it is of much help to learn basics of HTML. It is very inspiring to lots of bloggers when it comes to handling week’s project. Hope I would have attended Matt’s explanation about how HTML looks like, and step through the main elements you need to know to set up and format posts to perfection. But with you giving us this, it is our work to learn more from you Darren. Thank you!

  21. Reed Nixon says:

    This is helpful. Thanks Darren.

  22. HTML tags enhance formatting and blog designing. This makes a blogger’s work more appealing to clients.

  23. HTML is a basic for bloggers. I is more of an essential feature and each blogger should aim at getting acquainted to it. Thanks a lot for the post.