Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) is a markup language designed for creating web pages, that is, information presented on the World Wide Web. Derived from SGML, which was used by the publishing industry, it is now an Internet standard maintained by the World Wide Web Consortium. The specification for version 4.01 is available there.
HTML generally appears in text files stored on computers connected to the World Wide Web. These files contain information in plain text mixed with markup, that is, instructions for a web browser or other program on how to display or process the text. There are three kinds of markup in HTML: structural markup that descibes the purpose of text (for example,
<h1>Golf</h1> will cause a reader to treat "Golf" as a first-level heading), presentational markup that describes the physical appearance of text regardless of its function (for example,
<b>boldface</b> will render boldface text), and hypertext markup that links parts of the document to other documents (for example,
<a href="http://www.wikipedia.com/">Wikipedia</a> will render the word "Wikipedia" as a link to the specified URL).
As with many Internet standards, the popularity and technological advancement of the World Wide Web grew much faster than standards bodies could track, so there are some incompatible proprietary versions of HTML still in use, though standards are improving. But nowadays most features of HTML 4.0 are implemented by the major browsers. HTML 4.0 gives a fairly comprehensive set of formatting options especially in combination with CSS
Version history of the standard:
- HTML 2.0 (RFC 1866) approved as a proposed standard -- September 22, 1995
- HTML 3.2 -- 1996
- HTML 4.0 -- 18 December 1997
- HTML 4.01 (minor fixes) -- 24th December 1999