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Back to School: Learn HTML Basics #30DaysofGOOD Back to School: Learn HTML Basics #30DaysofGOOD

Back to School: Learn HTML Basics #30DaysofGOOD

by Eric Steuer, Jessica De Jesus

August 9, 2012

30 Days of GOOD (#30DaysofGOOD) is our monthly attempt to live better. This month we're going "Back to School" and committing to learn something new every day.

You might not think of yourself as someone who could ever write computer code. But trust me, you can do it.

Today's task is to learn some HTML fundamentals. Don't be afraid. HTML is a simple language (you can learn the very basics in about an hour—truly!). And because it's simple, it's a great way to introduce yourself to the wide world of coding. By learning about HTML's function and memorizing just a few key HTML elements, you'll have a far greater understanding of the web than the vast majority of Internet users.

For those not at all familiar with HTML, it's the acronym for HyperText Markup Language, and it's the primary language used to tell web browsers (e.g. Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Internet Explorer) how to display content. Imagine typing up a text document on your computer, then putting it online for people to see. Without HTML, that document would look like a bland string of black text on a white background. By adding HTML, you can format that text so that it shows up with the colors, headers, and various styles we're all accustomed to seeing when we surf the web.

Beginners should peruse HowStuffWorks's guide to How Web Pages Work. It's a quick, clear article that explains HTML basics and provides a tool for writing and reviewing your own code.

You can also get a great HTML overview in mobile app form. Try the free Learn HTML Basics, available for both iPhone/iPad and Android devices.

If you prefer learning via videos, there are some quite useful HTML lessons on YouTube. One series that introduces HTML in a simple and concise way is available via the user freetutorials. There are many coders out there kindly sharing their knowledge through online videos, so search around a bit and find a few that suit you.

Have a little bit of a background in code already? Google Code University has a series of terrific lessons for you. Some were developed by Google's engineers, while others were submitted by users. Take a look at HTML, CSS, and Javascript from the Ground Up for a sense of what the site has to offer.

Finally, be sure to take a look at Codecademy, the start-up behind the Code Year challenge we wrote about earlier this year. Once you've got a handle on some of the very basics of HTML coding, consider signing up for one of Codecademy's courses. They're interactive, fun, and designed to make it easy for everyday people by learn how to code.

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