Join James Williamson for an in-depth discussion in this video Adding structure to text, part of Dreamweaver CS5 Essential Training.
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When designing a new page, one of the first tasks you'll need to do is to create the basic structure of your page's HTML. If you're typing in your content directly into Dreamweaver, you can add that structure as you type. If you are importing content from programs like Word, you can either preserve the text's structural formatting or reassign content to specific tags. Whatever approach you take, Dreamweaver makes it incredibly easy to add basic structure to your HTML. In this exercise, we'll take a resource file, which has been stripped down to the barebones, and add meaning to the text by formatting it within specific tags.
Keep in mind that in this exercise we are focusing on the main content region of the page, not the layout or the secondary areas. The markup we would use for page layout will be covered a little bit later on. So here I have my resource file open from the 05_02 folder. Now it would be really easy to look at this file and say it doesn't have any structure at all right now. But that wouldn't be exactly true. If I click inside this first paragraph right here, if you have questions about an upcoming trip, you'll notice that in the tag selector - and this is that little status bar right down here below the document window - you'll notice that the tag selector tells me that this is inside of a paragraph tag, and in fact, if I click on the paragraph tag, it selects all of the text.
Now, if I begin typing and I hit Enter, so if I hit Enter or Return, then I go down to next line and type in, This is a new paragraph, indeed, looking down the tag selector, I do have a new paragraph. So Dreamweaver will place the previous line inside of a paragraph tag, and create a brand-new empty paragraph to hold the next line. Now, don't just assume that if you see a line of text that it is in a paragraph. Notice the first line of text here. When you click inside of it, you can see, looking at the tag selector, that is not tag. It's just sitting there in the body tag.
This is even more obvious if I switch over to Code View. You can see that while everybody else has opening and closing paragraph tags, which identifies the content inside of it as belonging to a paragraph, this headline Got Questions is inside no tags. Now, that's really, really important. Within an HTML document, all content must be tagged so that user agents know what type of content it is. Now with this in mind, let's restructure our page using Dreamweaver's Property Inspector.
Now I am going to change my view a little bit. I am going to click on the Split Screen view, so that my code is on the left-hand side, and my Design View is on the right-hand side. You can then grab the little dividing bar between them and allow more room for your Design view or more room for your Code View, whichever one you're currently interested in. Now whichever one of these windows you click in, that's the one you are currently focused on. So if I click inside the code, I'll be working in my Code View. If click inside my Design view, I'm working in my Design view. So what this allows us to do, let's say you are somebody that's brand-new Dreamweaver, and you've never worked never worked with HTML before.
You can make changes in the Design view and just to left of you, you can see what changes that you're actually making to your code. This is a great way to learn how to structure your content and which tags are being added as you create or import content in, so it's really nice way of working. The other thing this does for you is it reinforces the concept that you're creating code. If you work just in Design view, and you are brand-new to Dreamweaver, you might get the mistake and impression that you're almost working in a Word processor. I think it's really important for you to understand everything that you do in Dreamweaver is, in fact, generating code. Okay.
Let's do some structuring here. I am going to click inside the headline Got Questions over here in the Design pane. I am going to go down to my Properties Inspector, and of the two tabs, I am going to make sure that I've clicked the HTML tab, because remember, we want to change the HTML structure. I am going to grab the Format pulldown menu, and I can see a listing of all the tags that I can choose from here. I have got my paragraph, all of my headings, and this little odd choice called Preformatted. I get asked about that a lot. Well, what that actually is is it wraps the content in a pre tag, which causes browsers to display the text in a monospace font, and retain any line breaks or whitespace within the text.
It's really good for displaying computer code or scripting examples, and that's what it's primarily used for. In this instance, however, we want a Heading1 for our Got Questions. So I'll got ahead and choose that. Notice that in the Design view it gets bigger. It's bolder, and over there in the Code View it's surrounded by an opening and a closing H1 tag. So that is exactly what we want. We have a few other headings to structure, so let's go ahead and take care of those. Now I am going to get rid of my This is a new paragraph. I don't need that. So I am going to highlight that, and then hit Delete, and then hit Delete again to get rid of the paragraph.
You'll notice that the first time I deleted, I just deleted the content of the paragraph and not the tag itself. So now I am going to click inside General Tour Information, and using my Format pulldown menu, I am going to make that a Heading2. So it's sort of secondary or subheading. Now I'll click in the Customer notifications. I'll make that Heading3. And then I am just going to scroll down my page, and for each of the other headings, Tour Voucher, Trip Planning, all those guys are going to be Heading3s. So H3s, Tour Checklist, it's going to be a Heading3 as well.
Now I've got some more content underneath here that we are going to restructure, but we'll be doing that in our next movie. Now as we structure our headings, we've used a very logical progression: H1, then H2, and then H3s. Now you might infer from this that you always should go in that order, but the truth is you can use any approach you want to structuring your content. In the Explore California site, each main content region will have one H1 tag that identifies the content. Any other main headings will be assigned as H2s, and any paragraph subheadings will be H3s.
You're certainly free to develop your own strategy for your content; just make it logical and be consistent with how you use it. By coming up with a logical structural framework early on, you can ensure that all of your pages use a consistent structure throughout your site. That makes the content easier for user agents to parse, and easier for you to style. Now we are almost done, but they're just a couple more things we need to do here before we can move on. So far, we've been using Block level elements: headings and paragraphs. Now we need use some Inline level elements to add structure within the paragraphs themselves.
So what am I going to do is I am going to go down to the second paragraph here, customer notifications, and there are couple items in there that really want to stand out to the user: for example, tour confirmation. I want them to know that they really ought to be looking for a tour confirmation that this is an important article. So I am going to highlight the text, tour confirmation, and again, using the Properties Inspector I am going to click the B tag, which indeed, it says Bold. Now it's true that browsers will render that text as bold, but in reality, what we've done is we've surrounded that text with an opening and a closing strong tag.
Strong tags strongly emphasize text, so any user agent will make sure that this text stands out. Next, we need to do the same thing to reminder notifications. So I am going to go ahead and highlight reminder notification, click the B tag, and surround it with a strong tag as well. Now there is another line in this paragraph that I want to make sure people are paying attention too as well. This sentence right here, "If you do not receive a confirmation within 24 hours, or the reminder notification two weeks out, contact us immediately." All right, I am going to highlight that and click the I tag.
So what does that Italic icon do? It surrounds text with an em tag, an opening and closing em tag. So what's the difference? Well, the em tag is an emphasis tag, and it denotes text that is being emphasized. The strong tags denotes text that is being strongly emphasized. So if you are looking for the logical structural definition of that, that's what it is. We've got one more. Let's scroll in just a little bit more down to our Trip Planning, and I've got a sentence here that says, "a list of any required equipment for the tour that is not provided by Explore California." I want to emphasize that point, so I am just going to highlight "not provided" and click the I tag there as well to just does emphasize that text too. Cool! Now our page is on its way, but structurally, it's not quite done yet.
In our next exercise, we are going to explore another fundamental structural element as we work with Lists.
- Defining and structuring a new site
- Creating new web documents from scratch or from templates
- Adding and formatting text
- Understanding style sheet basics
- Placing and styling images
- Creating links to internal pages and external web sites
- Controlling page layout with CSS
- Building and styling forms
- Reusing web content with templates
- Adding interactivity
- Working with Flash and video