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HTML and XHTML

The full form of HTML is Hypertext Markup Language.
It is used to create most web pages. There have been several versions of HTML since the Web began, and the development of the language is overseen by an organization called the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium). Some stricter rules were added to HTML 4.01, creating what is known as XHTML (Extensible Hypertext Markup Language). XHTML is a markup language, which may sound complicated until you realize that you come across markup every day. When creating a document in a word processor, you can add styles to the text to explain the document’ s structure. For example, you can distinguish headings from the main body of the text using a heading style (usually with larger font). You can use the Return (or Enter) key to start a new paragraph. You can insert tables into your document to hold data, or create bulleted lists for a series of related points, and so on. While this does affect the presentation of the document, the key purpose of this kind of markup is to provide a structure that makes the document easier to understand. When marking up documents for the Web, you are performing a very similar process, except you do it by adding things called tags to the text. With XHTML, the key thing to remember is that you are adding the tags to indicate the structure of the document (not how you want it to be presented); for example, which part of the document is a heading, which parts are paragraphs, what belongs in a table, and so on. Browsers such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari all use this markup to help present the text in a familiar fashion, similar to that of a word processor — main headings are bigger than the text in paragraphs, there is space above and below each paragraph, lists of bullet points have a circle in front of them. But the XHTML specification does not specify which font should be used or what size that font should be. You don ’ t need any special programs to write web pages — you can simply use a text editor such as Notepad on Windows or TextEdit on a Mac, and save your files with the .html file extension.

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