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This is a very brief tutorial on using HTML tags in your message. Be aware that you can use the tags ONLY in the message (not in the subject), and not all the tags available in the full standard will be recognized. However, those below are the most useful ones for making your messages look the way you want them to look, and all of those listed will function as described.

Most HTML tags are container tags. That simply means they have a beginning and and ending, with something between. For example, if you want to make some text bold you have to tell the browser where to start. You do that with the bold tag <b> and all the text following that will be bold. At some point you'll want to turn off the bold. You do that by closing the tag. </b>

That's fairly typical of the way a container tag works. <tag> to turn it on, then </tag> to turn it off.

Be sure to look for the new Quick View links when you're entering a message, too. These are smaller popup windows offering help - without messing up your message screen.

Making your text BOLD

To make any text bold, you simply enclose it with the "start bold" and "end bold" tags. Use <b> to start the bold text, then turn it off again with </b>. This is equally true of a single word, a sentence, stanza, or your entire poem.

Making your text ITALIC

To make any text italic, you simply enclose it with the "start italic" and "end italic" tags. Use <i> to start the italic text, then turn it off again with </i>. This is equally true of a single word, a sentence, stanza, or your entire poem.

Centering your text

To center text, enclose it within the "start center" and "end center" tags. Use <center> to turn it on, and </center> to turn it off. Unlike most of the container tags, this one works on lines of text (doesn't make sense to center one or two words in a sentence - instead you center the whole line).

Using Header Tags

HTML includes an entire series of "header" tags that are used (strangely enough) to create headers. While there is more formatting than just size involved, the easiest way to think of it is that each incremental header creates a more emphasized look. For example, the most emphasize header is created by enclosing your text within the "start header 1" and "end header 1" tags. Use <h1> to start your header text and </h1> to end it. There are six available headers, ranging from 1 to 6.

Unlike many of the other tags, the header tags applies ONLY to a line of text.

Using Colors in your text

Colors can be inserted into your text by using the Font tag. Start your colored text with the tag <font color="red"> and end it with </font> and everything between the two will be red. Technically speaking, the HTML standard expects hexadecimal numbers to be used to represent colors, but that's a total pain and most modern browsers will recognize common color names. Oh, BTW, I sure wouldn't suggest making your text White - in other words, be aware it must contrast with our background if it's to be easily visible. :-)

Using Links in your message

If you want to include a single link at the close of your message, the easiest and best way is simply to incorporate it into the form you use to post. There's a field exactly for that. If you want to include links within your message, however, you'll have to use the proper HTML tags. The proper syntax is

<a href="">Title of URL here</a>

As you can readily see, the link tag is a container tag, like the others we've seen - meaning it has a "start here" and "end here" format. This one is only slightly more difficult once you get the hang of it. Be sure to use the http:// before the URL and make sure the whole link is enclosed in quotes (just like in the example).

Inserting pictures and icons in your message

If a graphic exists on the Internet, you can use an HTML tag to include it in your message. Unlike the other HTML tags we've been using, the image tag is not a container tag - that is to say, it doesn't have a "start here" and then an "end here" format. You simply put it in and it loads the picture exactly where you tell it to do so. In its simplest form, the tag looks like this:

<img src="">

The first part of this line, the "img" is the actual tag (it stands for image, of course). The second part, the "src=" tells the web browser where to find the image. The location of the image that follows the equals sign HAS TO BE in quotation marks. It should include the full URL of the image.


If there are any other HTML tags you would like to use in your messages, please write and tell me what they might be. I'll be more than happy to extend this tutorial with any additional tags you think might be useful. Feel free to experiment with these and, of course - HAVE FUN!


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