SGML is the Standard Generalized Markup Language, a tool for repsenting the abstract structure of a document instead of its visual appearance. The theory is that you can use one piece of information for many purposes by writing programs to format it.

SGML is baroque in the extreme, and few people can implement it correctly. XML is the same thing, but much simpler and far more trendy. HTML is an example of an SGML application. See also DTD, HyTime and DSSSL.

Standard generalized markup language (SGML) is a mechanism for marking up text. The markup describes the text. How does it describe the text?

There are three ways that SGML can describe the marked up text:

PRESENTATION - You can use SGML markup to describe the presentation (i.e. style, format) of the text. For example: <font family="courier" size="10">These words</font> might instruct an SGML processor that "These words" should presented (formatted) in a 10 pt courier font.

STRUCTURE - You can use SGML markup to describe the structure of your text. For example: <p>This is a paragraph</p> might instruct an SGML processor to treat the text as a paragraph.

CONTENT - You can use SGML markup to describe the content of your text. For example: <phone-number>555-1212</phone-number> might instruct an SGML processor to treat the text as a phone number.

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