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library / Web Hosting Articles / HTML articles

  1. library page Forms
  2. library page Getting Started
  3. library page Headings
  4. library page Images
  5. library page Links
  6. library page Lists
  7. library page Page Titles
  8. library page Paragraphs
  9. library page Tables
  10. library page Tags, Attributes, and Elements


On their own, forms are useless. They need to be hooked up to a program that will process the data inputted by the user. These take all manner of guises and are outside of the remit of this website. If you use an internet service provider to host your HTML, they will be able to help you with this and will probably have clear and simple instructions on how, for example, to make a form-to-email form work.

The basic tags used in the actual HTML of forms are form, input, textarea, select and option.

form defines the form and within this tag, there is one required action attribute which tells the form where its contents will be sent to when it is submitted.

The optional method attribute tells the form how the data in it is going to be sent and it can have the value get (which is default) or post. This is commonly used, and often set to post which hides the information (get latches the information onto the URL).

So a form element will look something like this:

 <form action="processingscript.php" method="post"> </form> 

The input tag is the daddy of the form world. It can take ten forms, outlined below:

  • <input type="text" /> is a standard textbox. This can also have a value attribute, which sets the initial text in the textbox.
  • <input type="password" /> is similar to the textbox, but the characters typed in by the user will be hidden.
  • <input type="checkbox" /> is a checkbox, which can be toggled on and off by the user. This can also have a checked attribute, which would be used in the format <input type="checkbox" checked="checked" />, and makes the initial state of the check box to be switched on, as it were.
  • <input type="radio" /> is similar to a checkbox, but the user can only select one radio button in a group. This can also have a checked attribute, used in the same way as the checkbox.
  • <input type="file" /> is an area that shows the files on your computer, like you see when you open or save a document in most programs, and is used to enable users to upload files.
  • <input type="submit" /> is a button that when selected will submit the form. You can control the text that appears on the submit button (as you can with button and reset types - see below) with the value attribute, for example <input type="submit" value="Ooo. Look. Text on a button. Wow" />.
  • <input type="image" /> is an image that will submit the coordinates of where the user clicked on it. This also requires a src attribute, like the img tag.
  • <input type="button" /> is a button that will not do anything without extra code added.
  • <input type="reset" /> is a button that when selected will reset the form fields to their default values.
  • <input type="hidden" /> is a field that will not be displayed and is used to pass information such as the page name that the user is on or the email address that the form should be posted to.

Note that the input tag closes itself with a "/>" at the end.

A textarea is, basically, a large textbox. It requires a rows and cols attribute and is used like this:

<textarea rows="5" cols="20">A big load of text here</textarea>

The select tag works with the option tag to make drop-down select boxes.

They work like this:

 <select> <option value="first option">Option 1</option> <option value="second option">Option 2</option> <option value="third option">Option 3</option> </select> 

When the form is submitted, the value of the selected option will be sent.

Similar to the checked attribute of checkboxes and radio buttons, an option tag can also have a selected attribute, which would be used in the format <option value="mouse" selected="selected">Rodent</option>.

All of the tags mentioned above will look very nice presented on the page, but if you hook up your form to a form-handling program, they will all be ignored. This is because the form fields need names. So to all of the fields, the attribute name needs to be added, for example <input type="text" name="talkingsponge" />

A form might look like the one below. (Note: this form will not work unless there is a "contactus.php" file, which is stated in the action attribute of the form tag, to handle the submitted date)

 <form action="contactus.php" method="post"> <p>Name:</p> <p><input type="text" name="name" value="Your name" /></p> <p>Comments: </p> <p><textarea name="comments" rows="5" cols="20">Your comments</textarea></p> <p>Are you:</p> <p><input type="radio" name="areyou" value="male" /> Male</p> <p><input type="radio" name="areyou" value="female" /> Female</p> <p><input type="radio" name="areyou" value="hermaphrodite" /> An hermaphrodite</p> <p><input type="radio" name="areyou" value="asexual" checked="checked" /> Asexual</p> <p><input type="submit" /></p> <p><input type="reset" /></p> </form> 

There is a whole other level of complexity you can delve into in the HTML Advanced Tutorial if you are so inclined.

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