HTML and CSS: What’s The Difference?


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HTML and CSS are both core web scripting languages that have a huge role to play in the formation of web pages or web applications. That sounds a little familiar but not entirely transparent. Do not worry, we are here to help you. Maybe you are simply interested in knowing the HTML CSS differences, or are serious enough to update yourself beside pursuing relevant courses, whatever the aim, this article will fulfill all of that with an average 6-minute read. You will even find additional subtopics that will update you on useful information. After getting a concise introduction to the main article, let us start our reading journey without any further delay. 

Before learning the differences between HTML and CSS, let us look at the topics separately to have a solid understanding of them. 

What is HTML? 

  • HTML stands for Hyper Text Markup Language. It is the most popular markup language apart from SGML and XML that is used to create web pages and web applications.
  • HTML helps in defining elements within a web page like images, paragraphs, headings etc. It is an essential part of the majority of webpages and can be located through “view page source” by right clicking on the webpage. It helps in labelling pieces of content such as headings, paragraphs, links etc.
  • Overall, HTML helps in determining the structure of a webpage.  
  • HTML was designed by the British scientist Sir  Berners-Lee in 1991 following the creation of the World Wide Web (www) in1989. Later, it underwent upgrades over the years, some of which are HTML+, HTML 2.0, HTML 4.01 etc. The latest version of HTML that is widely used today is HTML 5. 
  • Let us break Hyper Text Markup Language into three parts, Hyper, Text and Markup Language, to understand the concept better. 
  • In simplest terms, Hyper usually means a thing that is beyond the predictable. When combined with text, hyper refers something that exceeds the limitations of the ordinary text. In other words, hypertext helps you access text content by performing a single click. This term was first coined by Ted Nelson in the 1960s and later brought into existence by Douglas Engelbart (Merriam Webstar). 
  • A markup language controls the structure and formatting of the text document. Mainly, it helps in displaying the text document in a presentable manner. Tags are an essential part of markup languages that helps in defining elements within the document. 
  • HTML elements contains the content sandwiched between the start and the end tags. For example, for the html element <tagname> Content </tagname>, we can write <h1> The first heading </h1>. HTML elements that doesn’t have any content and an end tag are called empty elements. They are used for embedding images, hyperlinks, breaks, lists etc. For eg, if <br> tag has no content and an end tag, it will be called an empty HTML element. 

Other examples of tags that are used within HTML are as follows: 

  • <p> tag is a paragraph tag that helps in defining a paragraph in a webpage 
  • <ul> tag is an “unordered list” used to create a bulleted list within a webpage 

What is CSS? 

  • CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets. It is the earliest example of a style sheet which was first proposed by Håkon Wium Lie on 10 October 1994 while he was working with Tim Berners-Lee at CERN. He worked initially at MIT Media Laboratory where he used to make personalized newspaper presentations. This made him feel a greater need for giving layouts for webpages which brought style sheets in the scenario (  
  • Cascading Style Sheet is even the widely used style sheet in modern times as well. The latest version of the style sheet is CSS3. It is highly recommended by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which is an international organization focused on developing the web. 
  • Let us first understand “what is a style sheet” and then move on to understanding the reason behind its naming: 

Style Sheet 

  • A style sheet is typically a file sheet that instructs a browser on rendering a page. With the help of a style sheet, you can make the webpage more presentable by working on the attributes like text, color, font, position etc. In other words, a style sheet justifies its name by working on improving the style quotient of a webpage. 

Why the Earliest Example of a Style Sheet is Referred as a “Cascading” Style Sheet? 

  • CSS follows a hierarchal system where element nodes like HTML elements are nested within an element of higher authority and importance.
  • Cascading usually means something which drops down and a Cascading Style Sheet refers to the styling rules that drops down from different sources. In this system, styles of higher precedence will overrule that of the lower precedence present with the hierarchal structure.
  • Cascade refers to the rules directly associated with a node and don’t imply the ones that are inherited. 

What are the Differences Between HTML and CSS? 

  • HTML and CSS are both scripting languages fundamental to a webpage’s or web application’s construction. They can be called the basic framework of a webpage that functions together. Both are interdependent on each other for displaying the complete look of the webpage. As we have gone through the similarities for a while, let us spot the important differences between HTML and CSS. 
  • In metaphorical terms, HTML can be compared to the skeleton whereas CSS is like the skin that covers the bones. On one hand, HTML is a markup language that gives structure to the webpage and helps in determining its key elements, on the other hand, CSS is a style sheet language that helps in styling the webpage with useful features. Just like a skeleton looks incomplete without the outer skin, similarly HTML is incomplete without the CSS. Anything that ramps up the style quotient is bound to give a finishing look to a setup, likewise HTML without CSS would make the webpage appear drab and uninteresting. 
  • HTML can survive without CSS but for a CSS, the presence of HTML is mandatory in regard to specific conditions. This means we can go on with a webpage without augmenting it with stylish features but to add style to a webpage, we require the basics that are provided by HTML. 
  • HTML consists of HTML elements which consists of content present between tags. You can find selectors and declaration blocks operating within a Cascading Style Sheet. An example of HTML element is provided within quotes: “<p>Welcome to Webuters Technologies Pvt. Ltd.<p/>”. An example of CSS looks like: 


               background-color: blue 

  • HTML cannot be included within the CSS sheet. However, CSS can be included in HTML. This helps us conclude that HTML can be called inclusive of CSS. The other way round is not true. 
  • There are less opportunities for backup and support within HTML whereas CSS offers considerable backup and support in relation to HTML. 
  • HTML files are saved in the format of .htm or .html extensions. CSS files are saved in the file type of .css extension. HTML files are widely used over the internet and displayed through web browsers. CSS files reduce the workload and the generated HTML code by storing display properties of multiple pages in a single file. 
  • HTML is not used in presentation, visualization and creative appeal. It doesn’t involve animations and transitions. CSS is specifically about presentation, styling and improving the overall appearance of a webpage. 
  • CSS is not dependent on the HTML language. It can have its own path of progress and can be used for other document languages (DTDs) other than HTML in the future ( Moreover, it can be used with any XML markup language. CSS also works in different types of devices, be it large or small screens and printers. 
  • HTML is quite easy to learn and code as compared to CSS learning. In a matter of a few hours, one can get the basics of HTML clearly. However, to get into the depth, one would require only a month. Learning CSS takes dedication and time which can range from 8 months to a year. HTML and CSS can be learnt online both from free and paid tutorials through websites or courses. 

Advantages and Disadvantages of HTML and CSS 

After understanding the differences between HTML and CSS, let us look at some of their advantages and disadvantages: 

Advantages of HTML 

  • HTML as a front-end programming language is quite simple to master and code. It takes only a month to grasp the contents of HTML. 
  • All browsers support HTML documents. Be it Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox or Safari, all of these browsers recognize HTML documents and can easily open .html file extensions. 
  • It can be easily downloaded within a short amount of time as the text is compressible. 

Disadvantages of HTML 

  • HTML can create only static and plain pages without embellishment of any kind. 
  • The security features of HTML aren’t qualitative. There are considerable security threats and vulnerabilities in the latest version of HTML which is HTML 5. 
  • Other webpage developers like Dreamweaver are much more flexible when compared to HTML. Dreamweaver is a text-editing software that helps to code in languages like HTML, CSS, PHP etc. 
  • The styling possibilities of HTML are meagre and rudimentary. 

Advantages of CSS 

  • With the help of CSS, you can set and update styles for different documents with a single click. 
  • Retrieving style information is quite easy as there are no additional network requests. With additional network permissions, retrieving styles would otherwise have been time-consuming. 
  • CSS is a big save up on time. All you need to do is write CSS once and you can reutilize the same styling sheet in multiple HTML pages. Define a specific style for HTML element and you can apply it across multiple pages. 
  • CSS is recommended by global web standards to use for all HTML pages in order to make them compatible with future browsers. 
  • CSS is extremely easy on maintenance. 

Disadvantages of CSS 

  • CSS is vulnerable and prone to security attacks. 
  • A browser may not always understand a CSS property or value and ignore it. It is similar to using a feature that is not supported by a particular software. In other words, a browser doesn’t support CSS in its entirety. Also, in case of any complexities, the browser selects the CSS rule with higher specificity. 
  • One disadvantage of using CSS within a webpage is that it takes more time to load. 
  • Confusion might arise due to its many levels. 

Wrapping it! 

In this article we discussed the differences in HTML and CSS,  as well as the associated pros and cons. It is true that HTML and CSS helped in shaping the web pages and has changed a lot over time with new versions being introduced. For now, we can hope the future updated versions of HTML and CSS to take the era of development by storm. We hope this HTML vs CSS helps you understand the basic concept and how they differ. If this is helpful let others know about it. Like, Comment and Share!

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