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Can anyone point me to some pages (cryptic keywords to google will be fine and shouldn't upset the moderators) that actually get a clean bill of health? I just want to see if it ever happens, and what this immaculate code looks like.
One way to look for examples is to search the Google image database for small "valid HTML" [images.google.com] icons. That will show you lots of pages displaying the W3C "Valid HTML" logo, and most of them will validate (just click the icon).
Also of course any page that calls itself xhtml and is not delivered with xhtml mimetype is in fact an error filled page even though the validator says its valid, but that's another issue.
Usually most validation issues come down to fixing a very small number of errors, closing tags, alt=, and so on, and getting rid of the illegal characters that jump in if you copy and paste from word documents. I run all my client word documents through a ms word macro that replaces all illegal characters with real html character entities like —, “ and so on.
It takes a few days to get your first site error free, you just start at the first error on the validator, fix every occurance on the site using search and replace etc, revalidate, fix again, you'll find the 100 errors quickly vanish since many of them aren't actually errors once the first error is fixed.
Once you have your site error free you get the real payoff, which is the ability to actually be able to do code debugging using the validators, that can be a huge time saver on complex html/css.
Some errors the validator generates come from errors earlier in the document. So it does make sense to correct the first error in the document first and see what happens, and so on.
I do handcode too, so I have no clue what needs to be done in DW to produce validating pages. Make sure you're using the right doctypes. There are plenty of articles around, googling for "doctype" or "doctypes" will help.