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Understanding whitespace and comments

From: HTML Essential Training

Video: Understanding whitespace and comments

Whitespace is a term that describes a class of characters that do not typically display on a screen or a page. This includes spaces, tabs, new lines, and a few other more obscure characters. Let's take look at how HTML handles whitespace. We'll start by making a working copy of whitespace.html. And I'm going to name this whitespace-working.html, and I am going to open it in my text editor. I'm also going to open in a browser so we'll just go ahead right now and open this in the browser.

Understanding whitespace and comments

Whitespace is a term that describes a class of characters that do not typically display on a screen or a page. This includes spaces, tabs, new lines, and a few other more obscure characters. Let's take look at how HTML handles whitespace. We'll start by making a working copy of whitespace.html. And I'm going to name this whitespace-working.html, and I am going to open it in my text editor. I'm also going to open in a browser so we'll just go ahead right now and open this in the browser.

And you see it just has a couple of lines of text and the title text example up at the top. And if we look in the HTML file we see there is our title tag on line 7 and these two paragraphs on line 13 and line 16. Now you'll notice that there is actually two lines of blank space between the paragraphs, on lines 14 and 15, and yet when you look at it in the browser there is really just one line of space between them. In fact, I can come in here and I can do that and put in a bunch of lines of space, I'll save that and reload in the browser, and you see it doesn't change at all.

So this is a hint of how HTML handles whitespace. You'll notice whitespace throughout this document. You see there is a blank space here. There is a blank line here. There is blank spaces in front of a lot of these tags so that they are indented, so that we have some structure in our document. And in fact I can just insert a whole bunch of spaces right here, when I save this and reload it, you'll notice nothing changes in the document. So HTML treats whitespace in a very special way. For the most part it takes as many sequential items of whitespace as you can throw at it, be they spaces or new lines or tabs, and it folds them all into one space just as if I had just done that.

It makes no distinction between vertical space and horizontal space, in other words, new lines, spaces, tabs, are all treated exactly the same. It also does a couple of other interesting things. I am going to go ahead and close up some of the space here, and you'll notice this space here between the opening

tag and the first letter of the paragraph. In fact, I could put that on a different line and I could indent it and I can do the same over here, and it'll treat it exactly the same. In this case, at the beginning of a line of text, it actually removes all of that space as if there were there no space there whatsoever.

You'll notice in our document here, I am going to hit Reload, you'll notice that there is absolutely no space at all at the beginning of that paragraph, just the indent that's the normal default for the browser. You'll also notice that comments are treated as whitespace. I can come in here in the middle of this paragraph and I can put in a bunch of blank lines and I can put in a comment, and I save that in reload it and you'll notice that nothing changes in our document. Now there may be cases where you actually want the whitespace to display and let's just put in a bunch of whitespace here.

We'll save this, and I'm going to change this

tag to say pre, P-R-E, so we're pre instead of p. So pre stands for Pre-Formatted Text, and if I save this and reload it in the browser you'll notice that now our text is exactly as we formatted at there. All of those blank spaces are being displayed, and you'll also notice that the text is displayed in a fixed space font as opposed to the default proportional space font that you'll get with a

tag.

So if you actually want to be able to display the whitespace you have a way to do that. So HTML handles whitespace differently than you might be used to with a word processor or layout tools. Sequential whitespace is typically all folded into one space, and a special element called pre is provided to display whitespace if you need it.

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This video is part of

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HTML Essential Training

82 video lessons · 98509 viewers

Bill Weinman
Author

 
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  1. 5m 24s
    1. Welcome
      56s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 37s
    3. What you need to know about this course
      2m 51s
  2. 22m 0s
    1. What is HTML?
      4m 12s
    2. Examining the structure of an HTML document
      7m 50s
    3. Understanding tags and containers
      6m 4s
    4. Exploring content models in HTML5
      2m 23s
    5. Looking at obsolete elements
      1m 31s
  3. 27m 19s
    1. Understanding whitespace and comments
      3m 53s
    2. Displaying text with paragraphs
      3m 37s
    3. Applying style
      8m 5s
    4. Using block and inline tags
      6m 34s
    5. Displaying characters with references
      5m 10s
  4. 16m 36s
    1. Exploring the front matter of HTML
      2m 9s
    2. Applying CSS to your document
      3m 59s
    3. Adding scripting elements
      4m 54s
    4. Using the meta tag
      3m 34s
    5. Optimizing your page for search engines
      2m 0s
  5. 24m 59s
    1. Controlling line breaks and spaces
      2m 46s
    2. Exploring phrase elements
      1m 44s
    3. Using font markup elements
      1m 5s
    4. Highlighting text with mark
      1m 29s
    5. Adding headings
      1m 38s
    6. Using quotations and quote marks
      3m 2s
    7. Exploring preformatted text
      1m 45s
    8. Formatting lists
      2m 28s
    9. Forcing text direction
      3m 49s
    10. Suggesting word-break opportunities
      2m 29s
    11. Annotating East Asian languages
      2m 44s
  6. 29m 15s
    1. Introducing CSS
      55s
    2. Understanding CSS placement
      6m 55s
    3. Exploring CSS syntax
      10m 34s
    4. Understanding CSS units of measure
      3m 3s
    5. Some CSS examples
      7m 48s
  7. 22m 5s
    1. Using images
      4m 13s
    2. Flowing text around an image
      4m 55s
    3. Breaking lines around an image
      3m 3s
    4. Aligning images
      5m 25s
    5. Mapping links in an image
      4m 29s
  8. 22m 28s
    1. Understanding URLs
      2m 41s
    2. Working with hyperlinks
      3m 28s
    3. Using relative URLs
      4m 20s
    4. Specifying a base URL
      2m 19s
    5. Linking within a page
      4m 12s
    6. Using image links
      5m 28s
  9. 17m 2s
    1. Exploring list types
      3m 52s
    2. List elements in depth
      7m 44s
    3. Using text menus with unordered lists
      5m 26s
  10. 15m 30s
    1. Introduction to HTML semantics
      4m 9s
    2. Exploring an example
      4m 56s
    3. Marking up figures and illustrations
      2m 33s
    4. Creating collapsible details
      3m 52s
  11. 11m 18s
    1. Embedding audio
      5m 19s
    2. Embedding video
      5m 59s
  12. 11m 53s
    1. Creating ad-hoc Document Object Model (DOM) data with the data-* attribute
      4m 53s
    2. Displaying relative values with meter
      2m 57s
    3. Creating dynamic progress indicators
      4m 3s
  13. 4m 49s
    1. Overview of HTML5 microdata
      1m 8s
    2. Exploring an example with microdata
      3m 41s
  14. 7m 3s
    1. Understanding outlines
      52s
    2. A demonstration of outlining
      6m 11s
  15. 13m 1s
    1. Table basics
      7m 29s
    2. Exploring the semantic parts of a table
      2m 32s
    3. Grouping columns
      3m 0s
  16. 9m 55s
    1. Frames overview
      54s
    2. Using traditional frames
      4m 26s
    3. Exploring inline frames using iframe
      2m 7s
    4. Simulating frames with CSS
      2m 28s
  17. 53m 7s
    1. Introducing forms
      10m 24s
    2. Using text elements
      10m 12s
    3. Using checkboxes and radio buttons
      2m 37s
    4. Creating selection lists and dropdown lists
      5m 14s
    5. Submit and button elements
      8m 48s
    6. Using an image as a submit button
      2m 15s
    7. Keeping context with the hidden element
      3m 0s
    8. Setting tab order
      2m 7s
    9. Preloading an autocomplete list using the datalist feature
      5m 26s
    10. Displaying results with output
      3m 4s
  18. 19m 47s
    1. Touring a complete site
      2m 14s
    2. Touring the HTML
      8m 44s
    3. Touring the CSS
      8m 49s
  19. 29s
    1. Goodbye
      29s

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