Nancy Blachman
Variable Symbols, Inc.
356 Bush Street
Mountain View, CA 94041-1332
650 966 8999
650 966 8998 fax
nancy- at

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HTML and Linux Quick Reference

This guide summarizes the HTML tags and Linux commands that you are likely to use when you create Web pages to put up on VAweb. Some of the tags in this document are not presented in the How To Create Web Pages workshop.

Introduction to VA Web

There are (at least) two places to install HTML files that you want accessible from vaweb (

Here's how to create your own personal web site on VAweb.
  1. Make the directory public_html in your home directory:
  2. Make sure all users have read and execute permission on the directory and the files it contains: In the section Introduction to Linux is a description of chmod.
  3. Create index.html in the directory ~/public_html directory. Here's a simple example.
             <TITLE> Nancy Blachman's Home Page </TITLE>
              <H1>Nancy Blachman</H1>

              She enjoys documentary films and playing squash.

Introduction to Linux

mkdir directory
Make a directory.
cd directory
Change directories.
cp file1 file2
Make a copy of file1 and place it in file2.
mv file1 file2
Move (rename) file1 to file2.
xemacs filename
Edit the file named filename. An editor in which you can click and type, similar to GUI programs, such as StarOffice.
vi filename
Edit the file named filename. This editor is available on all versions of Unix and Linux. To use it, you need to learn some control sequences to add, delete, change text.
ls -lt
List files and information about them with the most recently created (or modified) file listed first.
chmod 0755 filename
Change the permission on a file to make it readable and executable by all users so that Web browsers can view the file.
chmod +r filename
Change the permission on a file to make it readable so that Web browsers can view the file.

Introduction to HTML

An HTML element may include a name, some attributes and some text or hypertext, and will appear in an HTML document as

<tag_name> text </tag_name>
<tag_name attribute_name=argument> text </tag_name>, or just
For example:
<title> My Useful Document </title>
<H1 align=center> text </H1>
An HTML document is composed of a single element:
<html> . . . </html>
that is, in turn, composed of head and body elements:
<head> . . . </head>
<body> . . . </body>
Here is the basic framework for an HTML document:
         <TITLE> Page Title </TITLE>
         Text of document.
To allow older HTML documents to remain readable, <html>, <head>, and <body> are actually optional within HTML documents.

Elements usually placed in the head element

<title> . . . </title>
Specify a document title. Note that the title will not appear on the document as is customary on printed documents. It will usually appear in a window bar identifying the contents of the window. HTML header tags perform the functions usually reserved for titles.

Elements usually placed in the body element

The following sections describe elements that can be used in the body of the document.

Text Elements

The end of a paragraph that will be formatted before it is displayed on the screen.
Forces a line break immediately and retains the same style.
<pre> . . . </pre>
Identifies text that has already been formatted (preformatted) by some other system and must be displayed as is. Preformatted text may include embedded tags, but not all tag types are permitted. The <pre> tag can be used to include tables in documents.
Similar to <pre> except no embedded tags will be recognized, and since there is no end tag, the remainder of the document will be rendered as plain text. This is an archaic tag. Note that some browsers actually recognize a </plaintext> tag, even though it is not defined by the standard.
<blockquote> . . . </blockquote>
Include a section of text quoted from some other source.


<h1> . . . </h1> Most prominent header
<h2> . . . </h2>
<h3> . . . </h3>
<h4> . . . </h4>
<h5> . . . </h5>
<h6> . . . </h6> Least prominent header

Logical Styles

<em> . . . </em>
<strong> . . . </strong>
Stronger emphasis
<big> . . . </big>
Display in a larger font
<small> . . . </small>
Display in a smaller font
<strikethrough> . . . </strikethrough>
Draw a line through the text
<pre> . . . </pre>
Preformatted text, preserve the origianl formatting
<code> . . . </code>
Display an HTML directive
<samp> . . . </samp>
Include sample output
<kbd> . . . </kbd>
Display a keyboard key
<var> . . . </var>
Define a variable
<dfn> . . . </dfn>
Display a definition (not widely supported)
<cite> . . . </cite>
Display a citation

Font Formatting

<font attributes> . . . </font>
Change the display font, size, and color of a block of text by specifying one or more of the following attributes.
Where n is an integer from 1 to 6.
The actual size of the font depends on the browser.
Where name is one of the colors supported by the HTML browser.
Where fontnames is a comma-separated list of system font names.
The first named font to be found on the system is used when rendering the text.


There are 16 color names that are recognized by most browsers. These names can be used with many different tags.
Black Maroon Green Olive
Navy Purple Teal Gray
Red Lime Yellow Blue
Fuchsia Aqua White Silver

Physical Styles

<b> . . . </b>
<i> . . . </i>
<u> . . . </u>
<tt> . . . </tt>
Typewriter font

Alignment Features

<center> . . . </center>
To center text.
<div align=right/left/center/justify> . . . </div>
To position text.

Definition list/glossary: <dl>

<dt> First term to be defined
<dd> Definition of first term
<dt> Next term to be defined
<dd> Next definition
The <dl> attribute compact can be used to generate a definition list requiring less space.

Present an unordered list: <ul>

<li> First item in the list
<li> Next item in the list

Present an ordered list: <ol>

<li> First item in the list
<li> Next item in the list

Present an interactive menu: <menu>

<li> First item in the menu
<li> Next item

Present a directory list of items: <dir>

<li> First item in the list
<li> Second item in the list
<li> Next item in the list
Items should be less than 20 characters long.


<!-- text -->
Place a comment in the HTML source
<address> . . . </address>
Present address information
<img src="URL" alt="Alternate Text">
Embed a graphic image in the document. Attributes:
Specifies the location of the image.
Allows a text string to be put in place of the image in clients that cannot display images.
Specify a relationship to surrounding text. The argument for align can be one of top, middle, or bottom.
If ismap is present and the image tag is within an anchor, the image will become a "clickable image". The pixel coordinates of the cursor will be appended to the URL specified in the anchor if the user clicks within the ismap image. The resulting URL will take the form "URL?m,n" where m and n are integer coordinates, and the URL will specify the location of a program that will examine the pixel coordinates, and return an appropriate document.
Forces a line break immediately and retains the same style.
Places a horizontal rule or separator between sections of text.

Additional Information

For a tutorial introduction to HTML see:

Nancy Blachman
Technical Training Manager
VA Linux Systems
March 21, 2000

The current URL is
This file is based on the HTML Quick Reference developed by the University of Kansas.
This quick reference was last modified Sunday, 19-Mar-2000
Problems, comments about this document to or call (408) 542-5715.