HTML for the World Wide Web with XHTML and CSS: Visual QuickStart Guide, Fifth Edition

HTML for the World Wide Web with XHTML and CSS: Visual QuickStart Guide, Fifth Edition

by Elizabeth Castro

As both the Web and the browsers used to navigate it mature, work-arounds that compensate for the myriad factors that affect Web page appearance no longer cut it. Users expect Web pages to look beautiful regardless--and with the Fifth Edition of this popular Visual QuickStart Guide, you can make your Web pages comply. By following the generously illustrated,

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As both the Web and the browsers used to navigate it mature, work-arounds that compensate for the myriad factors that affect Web page appearance no longer cut it. Users expect Web pages to look beautiful regardless--and with the Fifth Edition of this popular Visual QuickStart Guide, you can make your Web pages comply. By following the generously illustrated, step-by-step instructions that are the hallmark of the Visual QuickStart series, you'll create beautiful code that works consistently across browser versions and platforms (including hand-held devices and cell phones) in no time.

This updated edition includes a new section on foreign-language and multilingual Web sites as well as ample coverage on how the use of HTML is changing. What hasn't changed, however, is the book's popular format: Task-oriented, step-by-step instruction that builds on your growing knowledge. Info-packed appendixes, a comprehensive index, and plenty of screen shots and code examples make HTML for the World Wide Web, Fifth Edition, with XHTML and CSS: Visual QuickStart Guide a must-have reference. Whether you're just getting your feet wet (no prior HTML knowledge is required) or design Web sites for a living, you'll turn to this best-selling guide again and again for answers to all of your HTML-related questions.

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Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
The Web’s grown up. So has its browsers, which increasingly sport version numbers like 6 and 7. So have its users, who will no longer settle for lousy navigation, cruddy layouts, or pages that just don’t look right.

So do your HTML right. Learn what works in today’s more mature browsers (CSS, especially, comes to mind) -- and take full advantage of it. Rely on your spiffy web layout software, sure, but never blindly. Get yourself some help.

Get yourself HTML for the World Wide Web with XHTML and CSS Visual QuickStart Guide. It’s the easiest HTML book we’ve seen that still manages to be comprehensive, and to stay firmly grounded in the reality of today’s demanding users and complex browsers. (Check out the price: it’s also one heck of a value.)

The book’s intelligence, clarity, and friendliness can be traced to its author, Elizabeth Castro. (If, as we expect, you like her style, you can stretch your skills later with her Visual QuickStart Guides on Perl and CGI, and on XML).

The book’s careful task-based organization, step-by-step instructions, clean design, and zillions of tips and screen captures are, of course, common to all Peachpit’s Visual QuickStart Guides. (By now you probably know how easy these books are to learn from; if you don’t, you’re missing a good bet.)

Virtually every page or two in this book introduces a new task. And virtually every task includes both sample HTML code and an illustration of what that code will look like in a contemporary browser -- a great starting point for experimentation.

As Castro observes, no matter how complex web pages get, a remarkably simple structure still lies underneath: text content, references, markup, and (optionally) information about encoding and the version of markup being used (known in W3C lingo as the “doctype”). Castro discusses each in turn -- and the relationships among them.

Along the way, she makes sense of stuff that can easily trip up beginners: whether to create symbols and foreign language characters with old-fashioned special character references or with Unicode; why all your filenames should be lowercase; and what you need to know first about the differences between HTML 4 and XHTML (they both use precisely the same elements, attributes, and values, but “HTML [is] a laid-back don’t-sweat-the-details kind of person. Perhaps not quite as hard-working as XHTML, but much happier and at ease with herself. XHTML, on the other hand is downright uptight. Always vigilant, never taking a rest. Sure, she gets more done, but what a price!”

Speaking of XHTML, this book covers XHTML extensively. The previous edition, now more than three years old, was published way too long ago for that.

Also for the first time, this book contains extensive coverage of CSS. If you’re still not using CSS1, you probably ought to be for most sites and applications. Castro recommends relying on it not only for formatting fonts and size but also for laying out your page’s elements. Implement your site with a separate CSS file containing layout instructions, and it’s easy to apply consistent changes site-wide. Try that with tables. Bonus: Your viewers get smaller, faster-loading pages.

Yes, we know… “Netscape 4.” Well, according to Statmarket, all the Netscapes together are now down to 3.4 percent of the market -- and much of that is the CSS-compliant Netscape 6 and 7. More to the point, Castro offers a full chapter of strategies for accommodating old and buggy browsers while still gaining the benefits of CSS. (She also presents sample pages that work great in current browsers and degrade gracefully in ancient ones.)

Everything you need to learn (or remind yourself) about is covered here. Web images (making them float, stopping them from wrapping, aligning them, adding space around them). Links (targeting them to specific windows, creating keyboard shortcuts for links, working with image maps). Lists. Tables. Frames. Forms. Embedding multimedia and scripts. Testing and debugging. Password protected pages. Souped-up Mailto: links. Drop caps. Automatic slide shows. We’re out of space, and she’s only getting started. Bill Camarda

Bill Camarda is a consultant, writer, and web/multimedia content developer. His 15 books include Special Edition Using Word 2000 and Upgrading & Fixing Networks For Dummies®, Second Edition.

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Product Details

Peachpit Press
Publication date:
Visual QuickStart Guide Series
Edition description:
Older Edition
Product dimensions:
7.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.95(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 2: Designing Your Web Page

...Designing Your Site

Although you can just jump in and start writing HTML pages right away (seepage 34), it's a good idea to first think about and design your site. That way, you'll give yourself direction and save reorganizing later.

To design your site:

1. Figure out why you're creating this page. What do you want to convey?

2. Think about your audience. How can you tailor your content to appeal to this audience? For example, should you add lots of graphics or is it more important that your page download quickly?

3. How many pages will you need? What sort of structure would you like it to have? Do you want visitors to go through your site in a particular direction, or do you want to make it easy for them to explore in any direction?

4. Sketch out your site on paper.

5. Devise a simple, consistent naming system for your pages, images, and other external files (seepage 26).


  • On the other hand, don't overdo the design phase of your site. At some point, you've got to dig in and start writing.

  • If you're not very familiar with the Web, do some surfing first to get an idea of the possibilities. You might start with Yahoo's Cool Links:

Organizing Files

Before you start to create your files, it's a good idea to figure out where you're going to put them.

To organize your files:

1. Create a central folder or directory to hold all the material that will be available at your Web site. On the Mac, choose File > New Folder in the Finder (Figure 2.2). In Windows, from the Active Desktop, choose File > New > Folder (Figure 2-3).

2. Divide the central folder in a way that reflects the organization of your Web site. You may decide to create a separate folder for HTML documents, one for images, and one for other external files. if you have a large site with many pages, you may wish to divide the site into categories or chapters, placing the images in the individual folders.


  • Use simple, one-word names without symbols or punctuation for your files and folders. Use all lowercase letters so that your URLs are easier to type and thus your pages are easier to reach. For more details on how to create good file names, consult File Names on page 26.

Creating a New Web Page

You don't need any special tools to create a Web page. You can use any word processor, even WordPad or SimpleText, which are included with the basic Windows and Macintosh system software.

To create a new Web page:

1. Open any text editor or word processor.

2. Choose File > New to create a new, blank document (Figure 2-5).

3. Create the HTML content as explained in the rest of this book, starting on page 35.

4. Be sure to save your file as directed on page 40.


  • If you like Microsoft Word, you can use it for writing HTML too. just be sure to save the file correctly (as Text Only and with the htm or html extension). For more details, consult Saving Your Web Page on page 40.

  • If you use PageMill, FrontPage, or some other Web page editor to start your pages, you can still tweak their HTML code. just choose File > Open from your text editor of choice and open the file. Then use the rest of this book to add your own HTML tags by hand and create the HTML page you want.

  • Well, you can use SimpleEdit or WordPad, but if you want to get fancy, try BBEdit for Mac or HomeSite for Windows. Both have powerful search and replace function, automatic HTML tags in color, syntax checkers for debugging problematic pages, and assorted other helpful features. For more details, consult HTML Editors on page 350.

Starting Your Web Page

The very first thing that you should type on your page is the HTML tag. It identifies the contents of your text document as HTML code,

To start your Web page:

1. Type <HTML>.

2. Leave a few spaces for creating the rest of your page (using the rest of this book).

3. Type </HTML>.


  • Perhaps even more important than the HTML tag-which is optional, after allis the file extension (seepage 26). Of course, we humans also benefit from the HTML tag, since it indicates what the rest of the document holds.

  • Create a template with the HTML tags already typed in as a starting point for all your pages.

  • Earlier editions of this book recommended using the !DOCTYPE tag to tell the browser which version of HTML was used for the page. The truth is, however, that although the W3C would like you to use the !DOCTYPE tag, I haven't found a single browser that cares one way or the other. On the other hand, I do get buckets of e-mail from people confused about it. So, I've changed my mind. If you're concerned about following the W3C's specifications to the letter, check out Otherwise, just forget about the !DOCTYPE tag. ...

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What People are saying about this

John Robinson
" If you're looking for a book on which to begin your HTML writing adventure, make this the one."--Post Gazette Magazine
Jackie Dove
" For a very reasonable price, HTML 4 for the World Web is the only guide you need to create and publish Web sites."

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