What is HTML?

HTML stands for Hyper Text Markup Language. HTML is the core language of the World Wide Web, and all currently used browsers should be able to display HTML 3.2.

As a 'markup' language, HTML isn't a proper programming language - it doesn't contain variables, loops, etc. Instead it contains 'tags', which serve to describe different elements of a page. For instance:

1. <p>Some <em>emphasised</em> text

- which, on this browser, is rendered as:

Some emphasised text

The impression given by this example is that the <em> tag just means 'put in italics'. But in fact HTML was intended to be more general than that.

The idea was that the <em> tag just meant 'emphasized', and it was up to any program interpreting this tag to decide how the emphasis should go. So, for instance, if the interpreting program was speaking the page, an emphasis could be made using a louder tone.

As HTML has progressed, though, it has acquired more tags specifically affecting visual layout. It is now also combined with real programming languages like JavaScript, to create 'dynamic' HTML. But something like the original idea of generalised markup does carry on in XML.

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