We didn't spend hours studiously poring over some reference book before we wrote our first HTML document. You probably shouldn't, either. HTML is simple to read and understand, and it's simple to write. And once you've written an HTML document, you've nearly completed your first XHTML one, too. So let's get started without first learning a lot of arcane rules.
To help you get that quick, satisfying start, we've included this chapter as a brief summary of the many elements of HTML and its progeny, XHTML. Of course, we've left out a lot of details and some tricks that you should know. Read the upcoming chapters to get the essentials for becoming fluent in HTML and XHTML.
Even if you are familiar with the languages, we recommend that you work your way through this chapter before tackling the rest of the book. It not only gives you a working grasp of basic HTML/XHTML and their jargon, but you'll also be more productive later, flush with the confidence that comes from creating attractive documents in such a short time.