HTML Meaning & Definition

Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) is the primary language standard used to organize and format web pages and other documents on the World Wide Web. It is often used in conjunction with Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and JavaScript to create a fully responsive web page design.

HTML identifies which parts of text are body paragraphs, headings, hyperlinks, bulleted/numbered lists, block quotes, italicized, bolded, etc., and the CSS determines how those parts look visually on the frontend. JavaScript, on the other hand, adds dynamic elements to a page, like pop ups, animated graphics, scrolling banners, and much more.

History of HTML

HTML has been used since the dawn of the Internet as we know it today. In 1991, when Tim Berners-Lee introduced the World Wide Web, he also invented a system that web browsers could use to translate text to visual web pages. The original HTML design was relatively simple (it only included 18 tags) and adopted the tagging structure of the Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML).

Since its inception, HTML has seen many updates from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). A combined total of 140 HTML tags have been added across the subsequent versions, the most notable of which is HTML5. In 2014, HTML5 introduced semantic tags for parts of a website that were previously unacknowledged, including the header, footer, navigation menu, as well as audio and video elements among others.

HTML tags

HTML defines the structure and layout of a Web document by using a variety of tags and attributes. The HTML structure for the first paragraph of this Webopedia definition looks like this:

Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) is the primary language standard used to organize and format web pages and other documents on the World Wide Web. It is often used in conjunction with Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and JavaScript to create a fully responsive web page design.

In this example, the

tag indicates that the following text will contain a body paragraph until the closing

tag. The italicized text, “Hypertext Markup Language (HMTL)” is bracketed with the tags, and the tags around the word “language” indicate that it contains a hyperlink (the href attribute) to Webopedia’s definition for the term.

Other common HTML tags include:

  • , which holds metadata about the page’s contents, including the title
  • , which holds all of the content that appears visually on a page

  • ,

    ,

    , etc., which indicate a heading according to the content’s organization

  • , which denotes a larger block of content that contains the same formatting

    1. ,

        , and

      • for organizing an ordered or unordered list
      • , an inline tag that adds an image using a src attribute

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      Kaiti Norton
      Kaiti Norton is a Nashville-based Content Writer for TechnologyAdvice, a full-service B2B media company. She is passionate about helping brands build genuine connections with their customers through relatable, research-based content. When she's not writing about technology, she's sharing her musings about fashion, cats, books, and skincare on her blog.

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