The Bare Bones Guide To HTML
This is a list of terms related to web page creation, web hosting, and the Internet. Click here to go to the HTML Dictionary.
There are two problems with using non-alphanumeric characters in web pages. The first is that some characters are reserved for HTML commands, such as the < and > brackets which denote the enclosed letters are an HTML command. The second problem is that different computer systems use non-alphanumeric characters differently. So a curly or "smart" quote such as on your computer could be displayed as Ð when someone sees the page on their computer, which makes no sense to the reader. When using diacritical marks, such as the é in Québec, it is guaranteed that it won't be displayed properly on other computers, or even on your own once your browser gets ahold of it.
The Character Chart shows you how to use these characters and have them display correctly on any computer's browser.
There is a color problem with web browsers. They don't swap colors on a 256 color screen correctly. To compensate for this there are 216 colors that web browsers will display correctly, no matter what the configuration of the person viewing it is. Colors that aren't one of these 216 may have to be interpolated by the browser. Browsers don't do this well, so the result is very pixelated. These 216 safe colors are defined on these color charts.
For pictures, this isn't a problem. A pixelated image will still be able to be seen and understood. This isn't true of text and backgrounds. If you choose a text color or background color that isn't one of the 216 safe colors, the pixelation will render your text a bunch of incomprehensible dots. (Even if you use a safe text color, a pixelated background will make it very hard to read.)
In HTML, colors are defined by a six digit hexadecimal code. The first two digits are for the red channel, the middle two for the green channel, and the last two for the blue channel. The values run from 00 to FF. 00 means none of that color, and FF means maximum of that color. 000000 would result in black. FFFFFF would result in white. FF0000 would result in the brightest shade of red. 00FF00 would result in the brightest shade of green, and so forth.
It is difficult for most people to understand this method of mixing color. We grow up used to mixing colors like you do with paint. This is a subtractive color mixing. But when you are dealing with light, as in a computer monitor, colors are mixed in an additive way. (See the HTML Dictionary for more information.)
There are two ways of displaying this color chart. Using HTML charts or graphic files. HTML is slower to render on your computer, but faster to download. Both versions are available here. Then there are different ways of orienting the chart by which color you start the progression with. So there are three different orientations here, plus one page that displays all three side by side. Whichever orientation you use, the code must be in Red-Green-Blue order. (While they are included in the full color charts, the greys have been placed in their own chart for quick reference.)
The Bare Bones Guide To HTML
The best reference on HTML for a webmaster to keep handy is The Bare Bones Guide To HTML by Kevin Werbach. (No relation to Bare Bones Software.) I keep the text version on my hard drive and have a keyboard shortcut to bring it up instantly. It is concise, lists the majority of HTML codes, and lists the options you can use with each code. It's very well organized by code type. And the online version has links to more in depth tutorials on most subjects.
If you take nothing else from the Homebuilt Homepage recommendations, take this one.
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