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Formatting HTML Content

Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) coding consists of special tags placed around the text you want to format. These tags tell web browsers and other HTML-enabled applications how to show the encoded text when displayed by a computer.

What Is HTML

HTML is the set of codes used to format (or "mark up") web pages. A single piece of HTML code is called a "tag." HTML tags are surrounded by pointed brackets, called chevrons ("<" and ">"). Tags usually come in pairs.

For example, the pair of HTML tags to create bold text looks like this:

<strong>This text will be bold.</strong>

The <strong> tag means "start bold here." The end tag, </strong>, means "end bold here." End tags always include the forward slash ("/").

Paragraph Formatting Using HTML

In HTML, a paragraph break is used to put a single blank line between paragraphs. A hard return inserts no blank line. The tag is used alone at the end of a paragraph, or as a pair. If used as a pair, the "align=left|center|right" modifier may be included in the beginning tag to control placement.

For example, the following tag would create a right-aligned paragraph:

<P align=right>Fourscore and seven years ago, our founding father set forth upon this continent a new nation.</P>

Text Formatting Using HTML

Use the following tags for basic text formatting:

  • Bold text tag: <strong>text</strong>
  • Italic text tag: <em>text</em>
  • Underlined text tag: <u>text</u>
  • Font format tags: <font>text</font> (Font formats include face=fontstylecolor=fontcolorsize=fontsize)

The font tag requires at least one of the modifiers (face, color, or size).

The face modifier is set to any font, but the person viewing the page must also have that font installed on their computer. For that reason, it is best to use only common fonts like Times New Roman, Arial, or Courier New.

The color modifier will recognize basic colors, including black, white, gray, red, blue, yellow, green, purple, orange, cyan, magenta, and so on.

The size modifier does not refer to typical font point sizes. In HTML fonts are sizes 1 through 7. The default font size is 3.

Because each user may set the default font point at which their browser will display text, these font sizes are relative. For example, one user might have their browser's default font set to 10-point Times while another has their browser's default font set to 12-point Times. The HTML tag would create 10-point Times text on the first computer, and 12-point on the latter, since 3 is the default size.

Users may use plus or minus signs to indicate sizes relative to the default. For example, the following HTML would create text that is two steps larger than the default font size:

<FONT size=+2>Bigger, Better, Faster!</FONT>

Creating Links With HTML

Links are created using the "anchor" tag.

<a href="URL">Clickable text</a>

In the following example, the words "Blackboard Inc." will turn into a link that directs the user to the Blackboard home page.

<a href="">Blackboard Inc.</a>

When displayed, the link will look like this: Blackboard Inc.

Creating HTML With Other Tools

Course developers do not have to learn everything about HTML. They may also use web authoring tools to generate HTML. The following list includes applications you can use.

  • Word processors: Microsoft© Word™, Corel© WordPerfect™, Apple© AppleWorks™, Sun© StarOffice™, and almost every other contemporary word processor contains the ability to convert word processing documents to a web page coded in HTML. However, the conversion from a word processing document to an HTML web page is often not perfect, especially for documents with complex formatting.
  • WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) web-authoring tools: These tools provide an environment similar to a word processor for developing web pages and entire websites. There are many products to choose from, including, Adobe© Dreamweaver™, Adobe© GoLive™, NetObjects© Fusion, and Microsoft© FrontPage™.
  • HTML Editors: Applications like BareBones© Software's BBEdit™ provide an editing environment for HTML documents. While they are not WYSIWYG, HTML editors usually have a "preview" mode that allows users to switch between viewing the raw HTML codes and previewing how those codes will look in the browser. These products help write HTML faster and easier, but they presume the user is already knowledgeable about HTML.

Incorporating HTML Generated With Other Applications

Instructors may decide to incorporate HTML generated content with other applications into their courses. Use the following options for including this content.

Save the content as an HTML file and upload the HTML file itself into Blackboard Learn. In the course area, next to the Special Action field, select Create a link to this file. Blackboard Learn will automatically detect images in an HTML file and prompt you to upload the images as well.

Copy and paste the HTML code into a text box.

Troubleshooting HTML Code

Blackboard recommends that you do not use the following in a course:

  • Multiple frames.
  • <applet> tags inside the text box. These tags may cause errors in the content.

Other HTML Resources

You can find many online resources for additional information about HTML. One valuable and definitive resource is the World Wide Web Consortium located at