What is HTML, and why should I learn it?

One of the fundamental questions a person will ask before they learn to code is, what is HTML? Without HTML the web wouldn’t exist as we know it. Every time we go online, whether we know it or not, HTML is most likely present. Here we will explain some of the fundamental concepts of HTML. 

What does HTML stand for? 

HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language. That might mean very little to you now, but it plays its part in every web page, which means it’s pretty important. Let us explain more.

What is HTML? 

HTML creates the structure for each page that we use and view. It’s the HTML that adds in page breaks, paragraphs, bold lettering, italics, and more. This structure is defined by using tags that tell the text what to do. For example, to make a word appear bold, we put that word between the following tags <strong>bold</strong>. The first tag indicates the start of the word(s) that we want to bold, and the closing tag(/) indicates where we want the bold to stop. It’s the basis for pretty much every page on the web. If you are learning to code, this is the place to start.

What is HTML used for? 

Let’s compare HTML to the human form. HTML is what gives a skeleton to all of our features. It supports the head and the body of a person. To give a clearer understanding of this, CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) would be what gives us our features, like the colour of our eyes, skin and hair. And JavaScript would be to do with our movements and how we interact with people – like when we reciprocate a handshake, wink, laugh or ask a question. 


HTML5 is the most recent version of HTML. With each version comes new abilities, etc. However, it is ever-advancing and evolving. HTML5 offers more functionality. For example; 

  • It can support audio and video using the relevant tags, <audio> & <video>.
  • It is supported by all new browsers like Chrome, Safari, Mozilla, etc. 
  • It is easier to use.
  • It works better on mobile devices.

How HTML works – HTML tags

Everybody should learn the basics of HTML. It’s a crucial technology for all industries. Taking part in our free 5 Day Coding Challenge (register through the form below) will teach you some of the basics of HTML and give you a better understanding of how it works. 

To indicate to a webpage that you are using HTML, each page will open with <html> and close with </html>. Some other HTML tag examples include, but are not limited to;

<p></p> which indicates the start and the finish of a paragraph. So, if you wanted place plain text and bold text within a paragraph using HTML, it would look something like this;

<!DOCTYPE html>
 <title>Title that appears on browser tab</title>  
 <p>Here is a sentence with <strong>some words</strong> using <strong>bold.</strong></p> 

Below is what that would look like on the front end.

Here is a sentence with some words using bold. 

Common HTML Elements

There are three necessary elements, namely, html, body and head that can be only used once on a page. That’s because they provide the base structure. But most other elements can be used multiple times on a page and there are a few elements that show up in nearly every web page created. So, let’s take a look at some of them here. 

  • Paragraph Element
    The paragraph element is one of the most common elements and as you might have guessed it defines a paragraph. 
  • Line Break
    As with print media, a paragraph creates a line break below it to visually separate it from other paragraphs. This is used to emphasize a semantic separation of content. The same structure is used in a novel or a magazine. 
  • Block Elements
    Elements that create the spacing below themselves are called block elements. Block elements appear vertically down the left-hand side of a page at least until they are styled by CSS. Examples of block elements are <div>, <article>, <table>, and many more.
  • Headings
    Paragraphs and headings work in concert to create the majority of the text content of a web page and its structure. HTML has six heading elements, which are numbered 1 through 6. h1 is the most significant and usually contains the title of the content – Not to be confused with the title that appears in the browser tab we mentioned earlier. h2 represents a subsection. h3 and so on represent identifiers of further subjects in subsections until we get to h6.

Other examples HTML tags include; 

  • <em> to add italics/emphasis
  • <head> meta text not visible on the webpage
  • <header> defines the header of a page or section in a web page
  • <body> body of page
  • <br> to insert a line break
  • <audio> embedding sound content
  • <video> embedding video content
  • <button> for using clickable buttons
  • <div> to define/divide a section
  • <img> for inserting images
  • <li> to represent a list
  • <ol> to define an ordered list
  • <ul> to define an unordered list
  • <u> to underline text

There are many others that you can explore in our free 5 Day Coding Challenge. 

How do I view a page’s HTML?

It’s easy to view a page’s HTML, even if it’s not your page. For sample purposes, I’ll use Google Chrome’s procedure here. It’s as simple with other browsers too. To view a page’s HTML, right-click on the page and click on “inspect”. There you will see all available code, including HTML, relating to the page. 

Why should I learn HTML?

As technology grows, so too does its use within business. To see how vital HTML and technology is to business, take your smartphone out of your pocket. How many apps do you have? How often do you use the browsers? Do you use it for shopping or to use purchases? Does it control things, like the temperature of your home? Do you use it to book hotels, flights, haircuts, or anything else? Do you use it to order food or to listen to or watch something online? To a certain degree, do you depend on it? 

Right now, there are hundreds of thousands of roles throughout Europe that require, at the very least, HTML skills. In fact, the world is going through a severe skills gap, and as a result, salaries are always growing for software developers. Employers recognise these gaps, and according to numerous sources, they are losing vast amounts of potential revenues as a result.

Whatever your internet usage, most of what you digest and use goes back to business and various industries. Here’s the thing, code is not just about buying and selling things. It’s also there to improve services. Look at healthcare and how technologies are changing that. Look at manufacturing, architecture and more. Because of technology and code, all of these industries have been brought willingly into the 21st century.

Where Can I learn HTML?

There are numerous ways to learn HTML. Code Institute teaches it as part of its Full Stack Software Development with Specializations programme. We also teach the basics of HTML for free through our 5 Day Coding Challenge. After just one hour a day over five days, you will have built your first ever web page. 

Take your first step in learning some of these skills. Register for our 5 Day Coding Challenge through the form below.

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