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Addressing Web Pages

The simplest way to organize web pages for an individual web site is to place them all in the same folder together. When files are stored together like this, you can link to them by simply providing the name of the file in the href attribute of the <a> tag. If you have many pages, you may want to put them in more than one folder for better organization. In that case, you still shouldn’t use the full Internet address to link between them. You can use relative addresses, which include only enough information to find one page from another.

A relative address describes the path from one web page to another, instead of a full (or absolute) Internet address.

For instance, suppose you are creating a page named zoo.html in a directory folder named webpages on your hard drive. You want to include a link to a page named african.html, which is in a subfolder named elephants within webpages. The link would look like the following:

<a href="elephants/african.html">learn about african elephants.</a>

The african.html page might contain a link back to the main zoo.html page:

<a href="../zoo.html">return to the zoo.</a>

The double dot (..) is a special code that indicates the folder containing the current folder—in other words, the parent folder. (The .. means the same thing in Windows, Macintosh, and UNIX.) In truth, specifying a filename by itself is also a form of relative addressing because you’re saying that the file resides in the current folder.

If you use relative addressing consistently throughout your web pages, you can move the pages to another folder, disk drive, or web server without changing the links. Or, using the example, everything will work as long as you always put african.html inside a subfolder named elephants.

Relative addresses can span quite complex directory structures if necessary; Hour 22, "Organizing and Managing a Web Site," offers more detailed advice for organizing and linking among large numbers of web pages.

Try It Yourself

You probably created a page or two of your own while working through Hour 2, "Create a Web Page Right Now." Now is a great time to add a few more pages and link them together:

  • Use a home page as a main entrance and central hub to which all of your other pages are connected. If you created a page about yourself or your business in Hour 2, use that as your home page. You also might like to make a new page now for this purpose.
  • On the home page, put a list of <a href> links to the other HTML files you’ve created (or plan to create soon). Be sure that the exact spelling of the filename, including any capitalization, is correct in every link.
  • On every other page, include a link at the bottom (or top) leading back to your home page. That makes it simple and easy to navigate around your site.
  • You may also want to include a list of links to sites on the Internet, either on your home page or on a separate hotlist page. People often include a list of their friends’ personal pages on their own home page. (Businesses, however, should be careful not to lead potential customers away to other sites too quickly—there’s no guarantee they’ll come back!)

Remember to use only filenames (or relative addressing) for links between your own pages, but full Internet addresses for links to other sites.

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