Markup language

Modern system for annotating a document / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Markup language refers to a text-encoding system consisting of a set of symbols inserted in a text document to control its structure, formatting, or the relationship between its parts.[1] Markup is often used to control the display of the document or to enrich its content to facilitating automated processing. A markup language is a set of rules governing what markup information may be included in a document and how it is combined with the content of the document in a way to facilitate use by humans and computer programs. The idea and terminology evolved from the "marking up" of paper manuscripts (i.e., the revision instructions by editors), which is traditionally written with a red pen or blue pencil on authors' manuscripts.[2]

Example of RecipeBook, a simple markup language based on XML for creating recipes. The markup can be converted programmatically for display into, for example, HTML, PDF or Rich Text Format.

Older markup languages, which typically focus on typography and presentation, include troff, TeX, and LaTeX. Scribe and most modern markup languages, such as XML, identify document components (for example headings, paragraphs, and tables), with the expectation that technology, such as stylesheets, will be used to apply formatting or other processing.

Some markup languages, such as the widely used HTML, have pre-defined presentation semantics, meaning that their specification prescribes some aspects of how to present the structured data on particular media. HTML, like DocBook, Open eBook, JATS, and many others is based on the markup meta-languages SGML and XML. That is, SGML and XML allow designers to specify particular schemas, which determine which elements, attributes, and other features are permitted, and where.

One extremely important characteristic of most markup languages is that they allow intermingling markup with document content such as text and pictures. For example, if a few words in a sentence need to be emphasized, or identified as a proper name, defined term, or another special item, the markup may be inserted between the characters of the sentence. This is quite different structurally from traditional databases, where it is by definition impossible to have data that is within a record but not within any field. Furthermore, markup for human-readable texts must maintain order: it would not suffice to make each paragraph of a book into a "paragraph" record, where those records do not maintain order.