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Formatting Text with HTML

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This chapter is from the book

In this chapter

Text and the Web
Adding Text
Working with Fonts
Setting Paragraph Formats
Paragraph Alignment
Creating Lists
Inserting Special Characters
Peer to Peer: The Essence of Structure

Text and the Web

Text on the Web is an intricate blend of focused content, word choice, writing style, and display. Although the former three require skills and techniques beyond the scope of this book, the display of your content can be entirely addressed by Dreamweaver.

Well-written, easily accessible content draws users to your site and keeps them there. It's not just the words themselves that grab visitors, but how easy it is to read them on the page. Several concerns when working with text content are

  • Use of typeface—The font you choose plays a role in how your content looks visually, as well as how easy it is to read. Font colors are best when organized and consistent, and font sizing is an important issue when it comes to readability.

  • Chunking text—How you break your content into separate paragraphs, use line breaks to format text, and add lists where appropriate can make or break a visitor's ability to scan and read without causing eye fatigue.

  • White space—Also referred to as negative space, this is the space behind the words and objects. Use of margins, indents, and block quotes where appropriate will help you in arranging content effectively.

Garish fonts, blinking text, and poor contrast between the color of the text and the background are not a matter of style, but a matter of readability, or the lack thereof. Two different sites might cover the same topic—one with well-written but hard-to-read content, and the other with mediocre but well-displayed content. Chances are, most visitors will choose to return to the site that's most accessible, even if they can't get all the answers there.

Looking at this in real life, sites such as iVillage and most other e-commerce ventures generally write content that's at a fairly low reading level and only skims the surface of any topic. The display of that text is very easy to read, however, with good contrast in color, a standard font, small blocks of text on a page, and plenty of white space.

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