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Meta Tags and Other <HEAD> Elements

Making use of meta tags (and other document head elements) can make it easier for users to locate your pages on the World Wide Web, and to retrieve the information in your documents.

Meta tags and other head elements are similar to the fields that a library cataloger would use, including the author, title, and keyword fields. There is also a meta "description" tag, which reminds me a bit of the various "note" fields in MARC records.

For more details about these elements and for information about more advanced topics, see Dreamweaver's Help menu.

Document Title

There is one document head element that should appear in every HTML document, and that is the <title> tag. If your page needs one, use the Modify menu and choose the Page Properties... option to add a title.

The content in the <title> tag is displayed at the top of the browser window. Search engines and web crawlers often use the content contained in the <title> tag to index your page, so choose a title that is descriptive without being too long.

However, Dreamweaver won't prompt you to add a title to a page. By default, Dreamweaver assigns "Untitled" to the <title> tag.

Meta Name Author

If you would like to identify a web page's author while keeping the author's e-mail address private, use the Meta Name Author tag. To add this element, use the Insert menu's Head Tags selection, and choose the Meta option.

In the dialog box:

Meta Name Keywords

Keywords can make it easier for users to locate a particular page on your web site.

To add a Meta Name Keywords tag, use the Insert menu's Head Tags selection, and choose Keywords.

In the dialog box, type in the keywords separated by commas. You can also include short phrases.

For example:

      HTML, document refresh, keywords, head elements, meta tags


Meta Name Description

You can include a descriptive sentence about your web site for web crawlers to use, and it gives you an opportunity to write a site listing in your own words. If another webmaster is creating an annotated list of links and wants to add your web page, the webmaster could copy the text in the meta name description field from your document's source code to serve as the annotation.

To add this tag, use the Insert menu's Head Tags selection, and choose Description.

In the dialog box, type in your descriptive sentence. I recommend that you include your most important keywords somewhere within the sentence.

Advanced Head Tags

There are two other possibilities offered by the Insert menu's Head Tags selection:

There is context-sensitive help in Dreamweaver for both Base and Link.

For more information

HTML/XML at about.com is a worthwhile web site. Jennifer Kyrnin is about.com's Guide to HTML and XML, and she has posted several articles about meta tags and a collection of links about the topic. If you're interested, sign up for her free HTML/XML newsletter. (Please note: a new browser window will open when you click on the link. Close the window to return to this tutorial.)


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