HTML I - Structure, Semantics, and FPO Fun


The front-end of the web is based on three major technologies:

  • HTML aka “STRUCTURE”: HyperText Markup Language (HTML) defines the structure and semantics of web pages on the web.
  • CSS aka “PRESENTATION”: Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) sets the look and style of a web page. CSS provides style to the structure provided by HTML.
  • JavaScript aka “BEHAVIOR”: JavaScript allows us to define interaction in our pages. What happens when a user clicks on a certain area?

What is HTML?

  • HTML = HyperText Markup Language
  • HTML is used to create electronic documents (pages) that are displayed on the Web
  • Each page contains a series of connections to other pages called hyperlinks
  • Every page you see on the internet is written using HTML
  • HTML ensures the proper formatting of content (text, images, video) so that your internet browser can display them as intended
  • Tags = used to wrap content of a web page and define how the browser must format and display the content
  • Elements = the end result of our tags once the browser has parsed the HTML and rendered based on our tag instruction
  • Markup = the set of tags to structure a page


Let’s say that we had some text and we wanted to denote that this text was a paragraph.

This text is a paragraph.

We’d wrap the text in paragraph tags.

<p>This text is a paragraph.</p>

We use <p> to signal to the browser that everything that’s about to follow is part of a paragraph and </p> to let the browser know that this paragraph is done. When a user visits our application, the browser loads up the HTML and parses it into the elements that will eventually make up our user interface.

Here is an example of a slightly more robust document:

See the Pen Very Basic HTML Page by Turing School of Software and Design (@turing) on CodePen.

Anatomy of a Tag

Anatomy of an HTML Tag

Required Structure of any HTML Page

  • <!doctype html> declaration: The doctype declaration is not an HTML tag, but rather tells the browser which version of HTML the page is written in.
  • <html></html> tag wraps the entire document
  • <head></head> tag wraps elements that shouldn’t be rendered: information about the page and how to process it
  • <body></body> tag wraps elements that should be displayed: the actual content

See the Pen A complete but small document by Turing School of Software and Design (@turing) on CodePen.


Setup for Today

Code Pen

Let’s head over to for a quick tour + account setup.

Dog Party

  • Create a directory called dog-party
  • Create a sub-directory called images
  • Create a file called index.html


Containing Elements, Semantics & Text

Let’s experiment with the following tags in codepen:

  • header
  • footer
  • h1 - h6
  • section
  • article
  • p
  • ul and ol
  • div

Alien Paper

See the Pen Blank by Turing School of Software and Design (@turing) on CodePen.

Images and Attributes

We use HTML tags to mark up text to show its semantic meaning. The browser uses these tags to structure the document. Most tags have an opening and closing tag, but a few do not. Images—defined using the <img> tag do not have a closing tag for instance.

Consider the following:

<img src="">

There are two things happening here. First, we have an <img> tag that is somewhat unique in that it doesn’t have a closing tag like all of the other ones we’ve seen so far.

Our <img> tag needs an extra little piece of information. Our browser is more than happy to load up an image, but it’d be helpful if we told it where that image was located. That’s where the src attribute comes in.

Anatomy of an HTML Tag

Let’s update our page from earlier with the image above.

See the Pen A Page with an Image by Turing School of Software and Design (@turing) on CodePen.


Let’s take a moment to digress and discuss important things. Like “For Placement Only” (FPO) options in design. Often, you will find yourself forced to build interfaces before you have the requisite content. In such cases, you must avail yourself of FPO content. There are many options for FPO copy, images, and video on the interwebs. Here are some to get you started:

Another important tag is the <a> tag. These are the tags we use for creating hyperlinks. Consider the following example:

  Welcome to the <a href="">Turing School of Software and Design</a>.

In this case, <a> tags need to know where they should link to. We use the href attribute to set where the link should point to. href is an abbreviation for “hyper reference.”

See the Pen A Page with a Link by Turing School of Software and Design (@turing) on CodePen.

Block and Inline Elements

You might have noticed that the <a> tag behaves a little differently than the <h1>, <h2>, and <p> tags. We can use the <a> tag to mark up a few words, while the other tags denote a big section—let’s call it a “block”—of our page.

This is an important distinction:

  • Block elements stack on top of each other. Each one starts and ends on its own line.
  • Inline elements can be used to mark up a few words inside of a block element.

Some other inline tags you might see in the wild:

  • <em> is used to denote that you’d like to emphasize some text.
  • <strong> is used to denote that this text is important.

We use <em> and <strong> to denote the semantic meaning of the content.

See the Pen A Page with a Link by Turing School of Software and Design (@turing) on CodePen.

You may notice that the <em> tags are italicized and the <strong> tags are displayed in bold. The browser does this by default. That said, you should still only use these tags to convey meaning. We can change the way stuff looks later with CSS.

<span> and <div>

All of the tags we discussed above have some kind of semantic meaning. Assistive technology devices will use them to help people with visual impairments understand the page. Search engines will use them to figure out the structure of your page. You should use semantic HTML tags whenever possible and appropriate.

Sometimes, however, you don’t want a tag to have any meaning. Typically, this is when you just want to target a certain portion of the page with CSS or JavaScript and none of the semantic tags really apply.

I like to think of <span> and <div> as the flavorless Jello of HTML tags, they don’t have any meaning in and of themselves and they typically don’t come with any built-in styling from the browser.

There is just one important difference between the two.

  • <div> is a block element.
  • <span> is an inline element.

We’ll discuss these more in a bit when we talk about CSS. But, for now, let’s move on to forms.

Forms: Inputs and Buttons

So far, we’ve done an excellent job of displaying information to the user, but we haven’t really asked them for their input. HTML also includes a set of elements for building forms.

There is a lot to forms that we’ll go into depth later, but for now just blissfully ignore.

Instead we’ll focus on two elements:

  • <input> creates an input field. <input> is like <img> in that it does not require or support a closing tag. It can take an optional type attribute that helps validate user input in some browsers.
  • <button> creates a button. <button> on the other hand does support a closing tag.

See the Pen Inputs and Buttons by Turing School of Software and Design (@turing) on CodePen.

Your Challenges (2)

1. Create this table

You can use codepen or create your own html file. ** Hint: Research the table element in HTML

Flags Table

2. Create this Dog Party

First thing’s first, you’ll need to download the assets.

Now, in your dog-party site directory, begin laying out the HTML for this site:

Dog Party