– Grogan/Alex –
How do they do that?
If you have visited the PC Q&A Forum, you have probably noticed that some of the messages have some really cool signatures (or short: sigs), such as a nice font, a funny image, different colors, a link to another site, scrolling names and more. If you haven’t seen it yet, click on one of the links above, visit a forum and look through some messages. Did you see the signatures? Looks pretty cool, doesn’t it? But how do you do that?
It’s easier than you think. Web pages are written in a language called HTML, which stands for Hyper Text Markup Language. The concept behind it is that you take the text you want to display on a web page, and add commands to it that apply special formatting to the text, such as size, color, etc. And that’s how those HTML signatures are done. At the end of the message, which is written in plain text and shows up as such, you can then insert a few lines of HTML code for your signature. When you post the message, it will interpret the HTML you typed and create the signature. By the way, this does not work on every message board. Only on the ones that do allow HTML code inside a post.
Learn the Basics
For starters, if you are not familiar with HTML, you should check out this site to learn the basics about HTML. It is a great site to learn about HTMl and web design, written in English with a sense of humor and well-paced. A must-see for anybody who is interested in it. Anyway, the primers and tutorials will show you how to apply formatting to text, such as fonts and colors, which is a good start to create your own signature.
Then you should take a look at what’s behind these signatures. There is an easy way to find out how they were made. When you see a post with a signature you like, right-click on the page and select View Source. Notepad will open on your screen and display the HTML used to create this page. Scroll until you can see the part with the message. That’s where you’ll find the signature.
Depending on how much you like writing your own HTML, you have the choice of writing your own HTML code using Notepad – or, if you have no desire to learn this at all, you can use a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor. This is a program where you type in the text and then use menus and tool bars to apply and formatting. It’s really easy to do because it doesn’t require you to learn HTML, it’s quick and painless. The disadvantage is that you don’t learn anything doing it this way, and you probably won’t be able to do some of the things you could do. You can find links to a few free HTML editors here in our download section.
In this tutorial, I’ll explain how to use Notepad, the most common text editor, to write your own code.