Let’s remember that this series of “HTML for Dummies…” is in the context of submitting articles to other sites. This is not about creating your own web site where you have total control. When you submit articles to writing sites, you have to play by their rules and some things are just out of your hands. How your article is presented is the big one. I’m not talking about all the dressings around the article like advertisements and links. I mean the little things like choice of font, type size, and indents. Those are controlled by the sites overriding Cascading Style Sheet (CSS).
What is a CSS?
A cascading style sheet is a special block of code that contains the definitions for specific attributes of a web page. Huh? I see you’re nonplussed by that definition. OK. What does that mean to you? It means some things are just out of your control.
Good web masters want their sites to have a consistent look and feel. The best way to do this is with a CSS. There they can define to exacting detail what everything should look like. If they want all the article titles to be 18pt/bold/italics, they define that in the CSS and there is nothing we writers can do to change it. We don’t have access to the CSS on other people’s sites. We just have to live with it.
The CSS even controls things like how hyperlinks are displayed. For example, here at WordPress, if I include a HREF anchor (like in the next paragraph), it shows up as bold, green text. Another site might display it as underlined, red text. It’s all up to the CSS.
So why do you care?
You care because knowing this, you can avoid futile attempts and useless tagging. Don’t even bother trying to use the <font> tag in your submissions. Most sites will strip it out because they control the font definitions from the CSS. Remember what I said in yesterday’s installment, keep it simple.
Next time, I’ll de-mystify line breaks and paragraph markings so you can give your spacing a polished look.