As digital products take over the publishing field, copyeditors and other publishing pros will find that adding some basic HTML and XML skills to their toolkit puts them in demand. In the April edition of the Copyediting Newsletter, my “Technically Speaking” column focuses on familiarizing yourself with this in-demand coding language.
Here are five ways you can start learning HTML or XML.
1. Take a course in person or online.
A course aimed at copy editors and e-book production will target the skills you need more than one aimed at website designers. Local colleges and public libraries are a good place to start your search. Watch for training here, because the coordinator is working on it.
Online tutorials on various programming languages are offered by Codecademy, Coursera, Udacity and Treehouse, which all get good reviews. Outside of coding communities, Lynda.com is a common recommendation. The first two mentioned are free but Coursera’s offerings are sporadic. The approaches vary, so look into how the course runs before you shell out.
2. Work through a book.
Laura Brady recommends HTML5 & CSS3 Visual QuickStart Guide by Elizabeth Castro and Bruce Hyslop. Laura is a developer and principal at Brady Type, an e-book conversion house based in Toronto, Ontario.
HTML for Dummies is one I recommend because I like their tome. It is a little less intense that the other title.
3. Get tutored by an expert.
I called my local ISP (internet service provider) and they sent their web designer over to show me the ropes. I ended up working for them because of that connection. Not a bad side effect.
4. Search explanatory posts online.
Since searching “html” online will bring up the entire Web, so here are some pages to get you started:
Once you are comfortable with the basics, this blog series will help you output a proper e-book file: http://guidohenkel.com/2010/12/take-pride-in-your-ebook-formatting-part-iv/
5. Look at the source code of any webpage.
You can peek at what is making any page function by finding the view source option in your browser’s menu. It works best on HTML files. PHP coded pages bury their code several layers deep. So this trick won’t work on every single website.
Here is where you’ll find this command in Safari, Firefox, and Chrome. Click the image to enlarge it.