A Basic Guide To Using HTML Formatting Tags In WordPress – Learn WordPress

A Practical Guide To Formatting Content With HTMLThe world wide web, your website, your pages and even your content are all built and driven by code.

It is inevitable, then, that at some point, you will probably need something done for your business online, for your website, or in your content that will require having knowledge of code.

HTML is one of the main “code” languages used throughout the web, web sites, blog pages and also web content.

You don’t need to know HTML to use WordPress. WordPress has unique features like “themes”, “plugins” and “widgets” that let you manage your website without having to touch code, and an easy-to-use, built-in web editor that lets you compose and easily format content just by clicking on a few buttons.

In this tutorial you will learn the basic HTML codes you should be familiar with to format content in your pages or posts.

A Practical Guide To HTML Formatting Tags

You don’t have to know HTML in order to use WordPress, but having a bit of knowledge of HTML is quite useful as a WordPress user!

An HTML Formatting Tags Primer For WordPress Beginners – Tutorial

If you are running your own website, having some understanding of HTML can help you save time and money in various ways.

Imagine this:

  • You would like to make changes to your existing content, add a text link and an image to a section of your sidebar, or direct visitors to a contact form, newsletter subscription page, etc. If you know basic HTML, you can do this really quickly and easily without having to pay somebody else to do this for you.
  • You outsource work to a web copywriter and get back files containing HTML formatting. Knowing a little bit of HTML will help you proof the work before you accept and pay for the work.
  • Someone creates your articles or web copy. You see a couple of basic mistakes in the text, like a word or phrase that could have been made bold, or a hyperlink that has not been added to your text. Knowing some basic HTML can help you change and fix simple errors in your posts and pages very quickly without having to ask (or pay) a webmaster, a web designer, or someone else to do it for you.
  • You need to discuss new project or requirement with a website development team. Having some knowledge of HTML not only can help you communicate more effectively with web developers and web designers, it can also help you better negotiate projects with web service providers.

A Beginner's Guide To HTML For WordPress Users

You don’t need to become a technical web developer – just learn enough basic HTML to be a “web-smart” business owner!

What Is HTML?

HTML is an acronym for HyperText Markup Language. According to Wikipedia’s definition of HTML …

HTML is the main markup language for creating web pages and other information that can be displayed in a web browser.

HTML is written in the form of HTML elements consisting of tags enclosed in angle brackets (like <table>), within the web page content. HTML tags most commonly come in pairs like <h1> and </h1>, although some tags, known as empty elements, are unpaired, for example <img>. The first tag in a pair is the start tag, the second tag is the end tag (they are also called opening tags and closing tags). In between these tags web designers can add text, tags, comments and other types of text-based content.

The purpose of a web browser is to read HTML documents and compose them into visible or audible web pages. The browser does not display the HTML tags, but uses the tags to interpret the content of the page.

HTML elements form the building blocks of all websites. HTML allows images and objects to be embedded and can be used to create interactive forms. It provides a means to create structured documents by denoting structural semantics for text such as headings, paragraphs, lists, links, quotes and other items. It can embed scripts written in languages such as JavaScript which affect the behavior of HTML web pages.

Source: Wikipedia, HTML


Important: Like all things online, HTML is also subject to changes on a regular basis, and sometimes these changes will affect WordPress.

Currently, we are in version 5 of the HTML set of standards (also called HTML5), and this change has introduced several new “tags” to keep up with the latest advances in software and web browser technology. As some of the tags used in older and even recent versions of WordPress get dropped from HTML5, you should expect that WordPress will also continue to update its core application to ensure compatibility with industry-wide HTML standards.

Using HTML Tags In Your WordPress Content

WordPress provides users with a option of adding content to posts and pages using its rich Visual Editor (also called a WYSIWYG editor, which stands for What You See Is What You Get) and a Text Editor that allows you to input HTML and other web languages (e.g. Javascript) when composing or editing your content …

Built-In WordPress HTML Editor

Default WordPress HTML Editor


We discuss the WordPress WYSIWYG Editor and how to create pages and posts in other tutorials.

HTML Formatting Tags Allowed By WordPress

WordPress lets you insert various commonly-used HTML tags, such as the following:

HTML - WordPress

HTML – WordPress

Below are a few practical text formatting examples using a number of the HTML tags listed above …

HTML Usage In WordPress - Examples

Formatting WordPress Content With HTML

Practical Tip

If you would like to learn more about using HTML, go here:

HTML – Free Tutorials

The WordPress Text Content Editor Menu Explained

The WordPress Text Editor allows you to paste, edit and work directly with code like HTML and other web languages (e.g. Javascript) when inputting content into pages and posts.

Out of the box, the Text Content Editor displays a number of standard buttons in its menu …

WordPress Text Editor

WordPress Text Content Editor Features

Below is a brief description of the function of each Text Editor menu button with their corresponding HTML formatting tag (see the screenshot above):

  1. b: <strong></strong> Use this HTML tag for strong emphasis of text (i.e. bold).
  2. i : <em></em> Use this button to add italics to your text.
  3. hyperlink: <a href="http://example.com"></a> choose this menu button to add a hyperlink to any highlighted text.
  4. b-quote – <blockquote></blockquote> Use this HTML tag for quoted or cited text.
  5. del: <del></del> Use this HTML tag to label text considered deleted from your content. Many web browsers will typically display this as striked-through text.
  6. ins: <ins></ins> Use this HTML tag to indicate text considered inserted into the current content. Many browsers typically display this as underlined text.
  7. img: src="https://www.yourdomain.com/img/image.jpg" alt="image description" /> Click this menu button to insert an image into your post or page and add an “alt” description (a text description of your image in case the image does not render in your visitor’s screen. Note: you can also use the “Add Media” button (15) to insert images into your content.
  8. ul: <ul></ul> Use this HTML tag to insert an unordered list into your content. Unordered lists normally display as a list of items preceded by bullets. Note: this HTML tag needs to be used with the <li> tag (see below) in order for bullet lists to work.
  9. ol: <ol></ol> Use this HTML tag to insert a numbered list. Items in an ordered list are generally numbered (just like the list you are seeing right now!). Note: this HTML tag needs to be used with the <li> tag (see below) in order for bullet lists to work.
  10. li: <li></li> Click this button to insert or turn your selected text into a list item. (This tag should be used in conjunction with the ul or ol tag).
  11. code: <code></code> Use this HTML tag to display code (like html tags) in your text. If you don’t use these tags to surround the code you want to display, WordPress will convert your tags and you will get errors (e.g. broken text). Note: content enclosed in the <code> tags normally will display using a pre-formatted styling of text, such as a monospaced font like Courier. (See the “Tips” section below for more details).
  12. more:
    This tag will break your blog post into “teaser” and “rest of content” sections. For example, if you add one or two paragraphs, then add the “more” tag and add the remainder of your post content, users will only be able to read the first couple of paragraphs of your post and a hyperlink (e.g. continue reading…), which if clicked on, will then display the rest of your post.
  13. Close Tags – Closes any open HTML tags left in your content. Note: proof your content after using this function to make sure that all HTML tags have correctly formatted your text.
  14. Distraction-Free Writing Mode – click this button to work in “distraction-free” mode (see screenshot example below). You can toggle between the Visual Editor and Text Editor modes, insert media and hyperlinks and update your content while in “full screen” mode. Click the button again to return to the normal text editor display.
  15. Add Media button – Click this button to insert media into your content (e.g. images, videos, audio files). This button displays for both the Visual and Text editors.

Distraction-Free Writing Mode

Click on “Distraction-Free Writing Mode” [#14] and everything but your editor fades away, removing all distractions from your screen.

Useful Tips About Using HTML In WordPress

HTML Content Editors

If you plan to use HTML extensively, there are several Free HTML editor software applications that you can download and use when getting started.

For example, a popular HTML editor software application you can download for free is KompoZer.


Kompozer – HTML Editor

KompoZer is Free Open Source software built as a complete web authoring system that combines web file management and easy-to-use WYSIWYG web page editing. It’s designed to be extremely easy to use, especially for non-technical computer users who just want to create attractive, professional-looking web pages without needing to know HTML or web coding. You can build HTML-based content in this application, then use plugins that let you insert code into WordPress.

Another option, if you don’t want to mess around with code or use an external HTML content editor, is to use a WordPress plugin that lets you build content inside WordPress itself.

Thrive Content Builder

Thrive Content Builder

To learn more about this plugin, see this article: Thrive Content Builder

If you have no need or desire for doing any kind of work that involves technical coding, but would still like to be able to easily create, insert and format content containing basic HTML tags into areas of your WordPress site other than your posts or pages (e.g. your sidebar, author profile, etc.), then see the useful tutorial below for a really simple solution that involves spending no extra time downloading software.

Useful Tip: Adding HTML-Formatted Content To The “About Yourself” Text Box In Your User Profile

In WordPress, there are certain locations like text “widgets” in your sidebar, or the “About Yourself” section in your User Profile screen that let you add HTML.

These sections, however, don’t come with their own content editor like the WYSIWYG editor found inside your Posts and Pages screens …

WordPress WYSIWYG Editor

WordPress Visual/Text Editor

You can still use the WordPress WYSIWYG editor to create your HTML-formatted text, and then simply paste it into those areas.

Let’s go through an example, so you can see how simple this can be.

By default, whenever a post is published in WordPress, a link to the post author is displayed somewhere in your posts (i.e. at the bottom or top of the post) …

Link To Author Page In WordPress

Author Page Link In WordPress Post

Clicking on the author link takes visitors to the Author Archives section, where they can learn more information about you (or other authors registered as users on your site) and browse other blog posts that you (or other authors) have published …

WordPress Author Archives Section

Note: As you can see from the above screenshot, you can add links and simple text formatting like bold and italicized text to enhance your author description and promote yourself, your services, social media pages, other websites that you own, etc. to your site visitors …

Author Profile

The author bio box is located in the About Yourself > Biographical Info field in your User Profile section …

About Yourself

Although the Biographical Info text box lets you add HTML-formatted content, it doesn’t have a content editor, so you have to either know how to type HTML code directly into the text area, or create it in an HTML editor, then copy and paste content with the HTML already embedded in it …

About Yourself

Let’s “paste the content” into this field using the simple method described below.

First, create a new post and type your content inside the Visual Editor.

In this case, we want to create an author bio

Creating An Author Description

Next, format the content inside the Visual Editor tab. Please note that you can only use simple formatting in your author description such as hyperlinks, bold, underline and italicized text, so keep the formatting simple – use bold, italics and anchor text links sparingly over one or two paragraphs to describe who you are and what you do, and include a useful link to help readers engage further with you and your business …

Creating An Author Description

Keep working inside the Visual Editor tab until you have added all of the formatting you want to display in your author bio …

Author Description

Once you have created your content, switch over to the Text Editor and copy everything to your clipboard …

Creating An Author Description

Go to your profile by selecting Users > Your Profile from your main navigation menu …

User Profile Screen

Scroll down to the About Yourself section and paste the content from your clipboard into the Biographical Info text box ….

About Yourself

Click the Update Profile button to save your changes …

Update Profile Button

Congratulations … You have just created an author bio for your blog posts and formatted it using basic HTML!

Author Profile

To learn how to edit your profile settings, refer to this “how to” article: How To Edit Your WordPress User Profile

As we’ve mentioned a number of times, you don’t have to learn HTML to use WordPress, but it can be useful to have a little basic knowledge of HTML.

Useful Tip


Tip #1 – If you would like to add more complex formatted elements to your content (e.g. section boxes, pricing boxes, etc.) without learning HTML, you can use cut & paste HTML snippets …

Save time using cut & paste HTML tools

Save time using cut & paste HTML snippets

Learn about a time-saving “cut & paste” HTML resource we recommend here: Cut & Paste HTML Cheats

Tip #2 (Advanced WordPress User): You can enhance the function of your WordPress Text Editor using a number of plugins.

For example:

WordPress HTML

WordPress HTML - WordPress Plugin

WordPress HTML allows you to add custom HTML to both the post and page body and head sections.

WordPress HTML - WP Plugin

WordPress HTML – WP Plugin. (Screenshot source: plugin website)

Pasting HTML directly into the WordPress editor can break various elements and corrupt the HTML. By saving the HTML code in the plugin’s custom fields dialogue boxes, you can output HTML to your post or page.

Extensible HTML Editor Buttons

WP Plugin - Extensible HTML Editor Buttons

Extensible HTML Editor Buttons is a plugin you can add to your blog that gives you better control of settings for HTML tags like div and span, as well as adding custom buttons and additional functions to your text editor …

WordPress Plugin - Extensible HTML Editor Buttons

WP Plugin – Extensible HTML Editor Buttons. (Screenshot source: plugin website)

Here is another free plugin you can use …



Raw HTML lets you disable automatic formatting like automatic paragraph creation and smart quotes, and use raw HTML/JS/CSS code in your WordPress posts.

With this plugin, you can wrap any part of your post in [raw]…[/raw] tags to prevent WordPress from converting newlines to HTML paragraphs, replacing apostrophes with typographic quotes and so on. This is also very useful if you want to add a CSS block or JavaScript to your post.


Raw HTML – WordPress Plugin. (Screenshot source: plugin website)

Tip #3 – Troubleshooting HTML Tag Errors: If your text formatting displays incorrectly after publishing your post or page, make sure that you have entered your HTML tags correctly in the Text Tab, not in the Visual Editor.

For example, if you type the following text in the Visual Content Editor …

Troubleshooting HTML Formatting Errors

This is what your text will look like when you publish your post …

Troubleshooting WordPress HTML Formatting Errors

You can see what is causing the problem by switching over to the Text Tab …

Troubleshooting HTML Formatting Errors

As you can see in the screenshot above, WordPress converts the symbols “<” and “>” into their HTML code equivalents (called ASCII characters).


  • <(open angled bracket) = “&lt;
  • >(closed angled bracket) = “&gt;

To preserve the symbols “<” and “>” intact and ensure that your text will format correctly, you need to paste your code into the Text Editor …

Troubleshooting HTML Formatting Errors

Now … when you publish your post, you should find that your text formatting is correct …

Troubleshooting HTML Formatting Errors

Tip #4 (Advanced WP User): By default, WordPress does not allow a number of HTML tags to be used (e.g. codes such as frame, input and others). This is for security reasons.

If you do experience any problems when adding commonly-used HTML tags to your content that are allowed to be used in WordPress, try disabling the visual editor in your user profile …

Disabling the WordPress visual editor

After disabling the visual editor and saving your new profile settings, return to your post or page and reinsert the content with the problematic HTML tags, then republish your post.

If the above suggestion fixes the issue, go back to your User Profile area, reactivate the Visual Editor, and see if the HTML code is still working fine with the visual editor restored.

Practical Tip

Note: If the above suggestion doesn’t fix the issue and you still continue to experience problems adding HTML code to your site, then you should look at other options. This may include:

  • Asking someone with experience troubleshooting WordPress errors to help you
  • Searching the WordPress Support Forum or WordPress troubleshooting resources for probable causes and solutions
  • Reinstalling your WordPress application (i.e. performing a clean site installation)
  • Contacting your webhosting company for assistance


Congratulations! Now you know the basics of using HTML to format and style your content.

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Originally posted 2015-10-15 11:00:45.