BLUE PENCIL – Holly Foster Media


Before the arrival of the digital age, editors and graphic artists used a blue pencil to “markup” copy or film. Why blue? Because they wanted to be sure their notes would not appear during the reproduction process.

“Non-photo blue is a particular shade of blue that cannot be detected by graphic arts camera film. This allows layout editors to write notes to the printer on the print flat (the image that is to be photographed and sent to print) which will not show in the final form” (Non-photo blue, 2018).

The word markup can also be used in a digital context. HTML, a simple and powerful digital markup, has changed the way we receive information. I’m qualified to make that statement because I’ve been using HTML, in one way or another, since the early days.

When Tim Berners-Lee developed the world wide web in 1989, he used HTML as its publishing language.

HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language.

How It Works

“The code used to specify the formatting are called tags” (Beal, n.d.).

In HTML, tags are our blue pencil. The code below creates a link that allows the reader to view the page index.html when they click on the text “My Story.”

The <a> tag defines a hyperlink, which is used to link from one page to another.

The most important attribute of the <a> element is the href attribute, which indicates the link’s destination.

(HTML a tag, n.d.)

Tags “indicate what the parts of the document are, rather than details of how they might be shown on some display” (Markup languages, 2019).

My Web Space

This week I created a basic HTML page and posted it to Quinnipiac’s mywebspace server.

Starting with the base code as a framework, I used the text and images from the blog My Story to create my page.

The beauty of HTML is that you don’t have to have any special software to create it, just a basic text editor. If you have a PC you can use Notepad, or use TextEdit if you have a Mac. 

Here’s a screen shot of the mywebspace page, or you can view it natively using this link.

Testing Your Code

Once you give your file a name and use the .html extension you can use your local browser to see how your page looks.

I placed my images in the same folder as my index file for ease, but they can be placed in a subfolder if you wish — just make sure you adjust the <a> tag so it points to the correct folder.


… just as texts in a natural language can include spelling or grammar errors, documents using Markup languages may (for various reasons) not be following these rules. The process of verifying whether a document actually follows the rules for the language(s) it uses is called validation, and the tool used for that is a validator. A document that passes this process with success is called valid.

(Help for The W3C Markup Validation Service, n.d.)

To finish the process, and make sure my code was valid, I used this validator from the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium).

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international community where Member organizations, a full-time staff, and the public work together to develop Web standards. Led by Web inventor and Director Tim Berners-Lee and CEO Jeffrey Jaffe, W3C‘s mission is to lead the Web to its full potential.

Digital Blue Pencil

Markup languages are designed for the processing, definition and presentation of text. The language specifies code for formatting, both the layout and style, within a text file” (Beal, n.d.).

As the viewer of a web page, you don’t see HTML; it is hidden from your view. You see only the results.

(Bellis, 2019)

As a writer and a coder, I appreciate the beauty of HTML. You don’t have to be a computer wiz; just think of it as your digital blue pencil.

until nxt time …


Beal, V. (n.d.). What is Markup Language? Webopedia Definition. Retrieved from

BLUE PENCIL | definition in the Cambridge English Dictionary. (n.d.). Retrieved from:

Blue pencil (editing). (2019). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from

Bellis, M. (2019, February 27). The history of HTML and how it revolutionized the internet. Retrieved from ThoughtCo website:

Christensson, P. (2011, June 1). Markup Language Definition. Retrieved from:

Help for The W3C Markup Validation Service. (n.d.). Retrieved July 28, 2019, from

HTML a tag. (n.d.). Retrieved from:

Markup language. (2019). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from

Raggett, D., Lam, J., Alexander, I. F., & Kmiec, M. (1997). Raggett on HTML 4 – Chapter 2. In Raggett on HTML 4 – Second Edition. Retrieved from

Non-photo blue. (2018). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from Non-photo blue (or non-repro blue) is a common tool used in the graphic design and print industry.

What is HTML (Hypertext Markup Language)? (n.d.). Retrieved from:

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