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In HTML, what is a Text Tag?

By Camesha White
Updated May 16, 2024
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Text tags, or HyperText Markup Language (HTML) tags, are commands placed around text to specify how the text is to appear on a webpage. Tags are the foundation of HTML and are used to format all elements on a webpage — not just text. The idea of text tags began in 1991 and became the standard for webpage design in 1996. HTML provides a standard that allows all websites to function in the same way, regardless of the user's location or computer operating system.

Generally, text tags are used to add formatting, special effects, or alignment properties to text on the Web. Every heading, subheading, or centered title is a product of an HTML text tag. Typically, developers, programmers, and other skilled information technology (IT) professionals work with tags. Although creating tags was once a skill only few professionals possessed, there now are tools to help the novice experiment on his or her own.

To understand tags, one must first understand position is more important than arrangement. Although an HTML tag is only a few characters, it is critical to have a keen eye for detail. If only one character is misplaced or left out, the tag will not be applied at all. As long as the tags are in the correct sequence, how they are spaced does not matter.

Creating a text tag typically involves placing a formatted tag at the beginning and the ending of the text the developer wants to manipulate. For example, if he or she wants to make a piece of text bold, a <b> text tag is placed at the beginning of the word or phrase — this is called the opening tag. Then, a closing tag of </b> is placed at the end of the word or phrase to close out the HTML command. A text tag can be used to create paragraphs, italics, underline, bold, ordered lists, subscripts, superscripts, trademarks, dashes, and alignment on the webpage.

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