A formatting or markup language used to create documents for the World Wide Web (WWW).
Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) in its simplest form uses tags to format ASCII text documents by indicating text that should be displayed as boldface, italic, bulleted, hyperlinked, centered, and so on. These tags usually come in pairs, can be nested, can contain additional attributes, and are used to “mark up” the text. For example, the text “Save 50%” can be displayed on Web browsers in boldface by marking it up using the <STRONG> tag (which means “turn on the bold style”) and the </STRONG> tag (which means “turn off the bold style”). The resulting HTML would look like this:
HTML pages are saved as files with the extension .htm or .html in the appropriate directory on a Web server such as Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS). When a Web browser such as Microsoft Internet Explorer downloads an HTML page from a Web server, it interprets the tags and displays the document with the appropriate formatting.
HTML has gone through several versions since it was created in the early 1990s. At the time of this writing, the most current version is HTML 4. The original HTML did not provide much control over how documents were formatted - that is, how objects such as text and graphics were laid out on a page. Its original set of tags was quite limited and was intended primarily for linking documents using hyperlinks to form hypertext.
As the Web grew in popularity, however, first Netscape and then Microsoft introduced their own proprietary HTML tags to provide Web developers with more control over document formatting, thus increasing the pace at which the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) developed the HTML standard. HTML 4 includes standards for creating cascading style sheets, which provides powerful formatting capabilities for precise placement of objects on a Web page.