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HTML: The Definitive Guide

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Anatomy of an HTML Document

3.7 The Document Body

The document body is the meat of the matter; it's where you put the contents of your document. The <body> tag delimits the document body.

The <body> Tag

Within HTML 3.2, the <body> tag has a number of attributes that control the color and background of your document. Various browsers, as we'll see, have extended the tag to give even greater control over your document's appearance.

Anything inside the <body> tag and its ending counterpart </body> is called body content. The simplest HTML document might have only a sequence of text paragraphs within the <body> tag. More complex documents will include heavily formatted text, graphical figures, tables, and a variety of special effects.

Since the position of the <body> and </body> tags can be inferred by the browser, they can safely be omitted from the document. However, like the <html> and <head> tags, we recommend that you include the <body> tags in your document to make them more easily readable and maintainable.

The various attributes for the <body> tag can be loosely grouped into two sets: those that give you some control over the document's appearance, such as its background, text, and hyperlink display colors, and those that associate programmable functions with the document itself. We address the appearance attributes (alink, background, bgcolor, bgproperties, leftmargin, link, text, topmargin, and vlink) in 5.3, along with the class and style attributes for cascading and JavaScript style sheets, described in Chapter 9, Cascading Style Sheets. The programmatic attributes (onBlur, onFocus, onLoad, and onUnload) are covered in the section called "JavaScript Event Handlers".

Netscape and Internet Explorer also implement a special type of HTML document in which you replace the <body> tag with one or more <frameset> tags. This so-called frame document divides the display window into one or more independent windows, each displaying a different document. We describe this innovation in Chapter 12, Frames.

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