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This pretty much describes me, "the browser assumes you’ve written old-fashioned, invalid markup and code per the depressing industry norms of the late 1990s."
That's me. I learned HTML the old fashioned way, by looking at other people's source code. I can't begin to imagine which kind of HTML it is. I try it and if it works I use it.
Would this be the code for me?
<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN"
You will be amazed at the structural things you will learn about HTML simply by fixing minor validation errors. :)
I hand code everything as well and have used a doctype in my documents for 6 years now. Using a doctype (and validation) has made me more aware of what I'm actually doing. In the end I have become a better coder.
The attitude of "if it works, I use it and if it comes out on screen alright I don't care about anything else" really doesn't work with the web...
Actually, the problem is that it DOES work. If omitting </html> caused your entire document to fail in all browsers, then we wouldn't have a hodgepodge of would-be web designers spewing out code riddled with errors; we'd have people who know how to write code, and people who don't.
annej, I think you'll find that you're probably not too far off from where you need to be in creating correct markup. Surf around for info on standards, doctype, etc, and i'm sure you'll be on top of your game in no time.
I see Doc types without the "http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/loose.dtd"> at the end. Is it necessary?
Don't feel so bad about being an oldschool handcoder (me too.) Taking the steps to get up to speed is better than most do.