Hypertext Markup Language

What Does Hypertext Markup Language Mean?

Hypertext markup language (HTML) is the major markup language used to display Web pages on the Internet. In other words, Web pages are composed of HTML, which is used to display text, images or other resources through a Web browser.


All HTML is plain text, meaning it is not compiled and may be read by humans. The file extension for an HTML file is .htm or .html.

Techopedia Explains Hypertext Markup Language

New Web developers may mistake HTML for a programming language when it is actually a markup language. HTML is used with other technologies because all HTML really does is organize documents. On the client side, JavaScript (JS) is used to provide interactivity. On the server side, a Web development platform like Ruby, PHP or ASP.NET is used.

When a Web developer builds an application, the work is performed on the server, and raw HTML is sent out to the user. The line between server-side development and client side development is blurry with technologies like AJAX.

HTML was never designed for the Web that exists today, as it is just a markup language with severe limitations, in terms of control and design. Numerous technologies have been used to work around this issue – the most significant being cascading style sheet (CSS).

The long term solution is (or hopefully will be) HTML5, which is the next generation of HTML and allows for more control and interactivity. As with any development on the Web, the move to standards is a slow and arduous process, and Web developers and designers have to make due with current and supported technologies, which means that basic HTML will continue to be used for some time.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.