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πŸ““ HTML Indentation and Format Part 2

We’re almost done talking about formatting. There is a lot to remember but soon it will feel like second nature to you. The following formatting topics are things VS Code's auto formatter will not decide or fix for you.

Important new terminology:​

  • wrap line, word wrap
  • whitespace
  • comments, commented out code

Start and End Tags: On the same line or on separate lines?​

You may have noticed that some elements (in this example div and ol) have start and end tags that occupy their own lines. Whereas other elements (in this example h2, p, and li) have their start and end tag on the same line.

<h2>Favorite Animals</h2>
<p>In order of most favorite:</p>

There is no reason to make this distinction other than it is convention to do so. For example, while this is less conventional, this is okay to do:

Favorite Animals
In order of most favorite:

The reason why the first example is considered more conventional is because it saves a lot of visual space when formatting HTML. There are some elements (like header elements, list item elements) that typically don’t end up with a lot of content in them. So visually it is okay to keep the start and end tag on the same line because both will remain in view. Whereas a div element is an example of an element that tends to end up with a lot of content inside. Therefore the start and end tags are given their own lines to better distinguish them as the visual space between them becomes vast.

However, lots of people prefer the second example (or some combination of the two) because it makes HTML elements and their contents even more distinguishable for easier reading.

Whatever you decide, be consistent within the html file and your project.

Wrap Line or Word Wrap: Handling long lines of text​

You will eventually encounter a problem where you have a long line of text and goes off the screen to the right which forces you to horizontally scroll.

Try creating the problem yourself. In an html file, create a p element and in the content start typing β€œlorem”. An auto complete option should appear and hitting enter will create a long line of text of lorem ipsum placeholder text.

Having long lines of text that require you to scroll horizontally is annoying but fortunately you have two options:

  1. VS Code's auto formatter will automatically break up this long line of text. The end result should look something like this:

static image of vs code wrap line

  1. A second option is to turn off VS Code's auto formatter's wrap line option and instead use a toggle option called β€œWord Wrap” found in the β€œView” menu or using the shortcut Alt + Z.
    To turn off VS Code's auto formatter's wrap line option, go to:

    1. File β†’ Preferences β†’ Settings

    2. Search β€œwrapline”

    3. Under β€œHTML > Format: Wrap Line Length” set the value to 0.

      Now with this option off and using word wrap, the result should look something like this:

static image of word wrap vs code

Do you see the difference? While the decision is just preference, using word wrap is the more popular option because it uses fewer lines of code.

Whatever you decide, be consistent within the html file and your project.


The term whitespace comes from print. The parts of the white paper that were unprinted were called whitespace.

In coding, whitespace refers to empty lines that have no code. Such as:


<p>Here's the text.</p>

There is whitespace between the two elements. Often whitespace is just called β€œspacing” or referred to as β€œadded spaces.”

HTML ignores whitespace when rendered in the web browser. You can copy paste the code above and there will be no whitespace between the h1 and p elements.

When writing HTML code, including whitespace is up to you. Oftentimes people like to include a line of whitespace to separate large chunks of related code.

Whatever you decide, be consistent within the html file and your project. However, limit yourself to only one or two lines of whitespace when deciding to visually separate lines of code. Having more than two lines of whitespace in a given location is excessive and likely will be seen as unconventional.

Comments and Commented Out Code​

You can create a comment in an html file by highlighting code and using the shortcut Ctrl + /. Try it yourself in VS Code. The commented out code will be wrapped in this syntax <!-- -->. Code that is commented out will not be run. In our case right now, commented out HTML code will not appear in the web browser.

People use comments for many reasons including:

  1. Temporarily removing chunks of code to design or troubleshoot.
  2. Leaving a note next to code for something that might not be self-explanatory and seen as an unusual course of action. This is helpful when working on a team with others.
  3. As an approach for note taking for learning.
    We highly encourage the last one while you progress through

Note! We'll provide more tips for managing comments for note taking in later lessons after we learn more about project organizational tools. For now, all we recommend is don't let your notes become so lengthy it is hard to read your code.