HTML Elements

HTML elements are the fundamentals of HTML. HTML documents are simply a text file made up of HTML elements. These elements are defined using HTML tags. HTML tags tell your browser which elements to present and how to present them. Where the element appears is determined by the order in which the tags appear.

HTML consists of over 100 tags. Don't let that put you off though - you will probably find that most of the time, you only use a handful of tags on your web pages. Having said that, I highly recommend learning all HTML tags eventually - but we'll get to that later.

OK, lets look more closely at the example that we created in the previous lesson.

<!DOCTYPE html>
<title>HTML Tutorial Example</title>
<p>Less than 5 minutes into this HTML tutorial and
I've already created my first homepage!</p>

Explanation of the above code:

  • The <!DOCTYPE... > declaration tells the browser which version of HTML the document is using.

  • The <html> element is the document's root element - it can be thought of as a container that all other tags sit inside (except for the !DOCTYPE declaration).

  • The <head> tag contains information that is not normally viewable within your browser (such as meta tags, JavaScript and CSS), although the <title> tag is an exception to this. The content of the <title> tag is displayed in the browser's title bar (right at the very top of the browser).
  • The <body> tag is the main area for your content. This is where most of your code (and viewable elements) will go.
  • The <p> tag declares a paragraph. This contains the body text.

Closing your tags

As mentioned in a previous lesson, you'll notice that all of these HTML elements have opening and closing tags, and that the content of the element is placed in between them. There are a few exceptions to this rule.

You'll also notice that the closing tag is slightly different to the opening tag - the closing tag contains a forward slash (/) after the <. This tells the browser that this tag closes the previous one.

UPPERCASE or lowercase?

You can use uppercase or lowercase when coding HTML, however, most developers use lowercase. This helps the readability of your code, and it also saves you from constantly switching between upper and lower case. Lowercase also helps keep your code XML compliant (if you're using XHTML), but but that's another topic.


  • Good: <head>
  • OK: <HEAD>

In the next lesson, we learn about some of the more common formatting tags.