If you regularly work with HTML code or have recently begun doing so, you may have found yourself asking why your code is showing up as text instead of a standard HTML file. There are a few reasons why this may happen, and all these issues have a simple solution. So don’t delete your code or quit the project altogether. Please look at these common errors and their lists of solutions to find a fix that works for you.

If HTML code shows up as text, there is some closing of tag issue, which causes the browser not to read the code correctly or because you did not mention the command (<!DOCTYPE html>). The last cause of this issue is not saving the original text file with the extension “.html.”

Now that you are aware of the potential causes of your code showing up as text, identify which one of these issues is currently creating the error for you by checking each aspect of your code thoroughly and using the solutions below to correct the problem. This article will take you through each solution step by step, so whether you’re a beginner coder or an expert who needs a short refresher course, this is the place to be.

Issue # 1: Error with the Closing of Tags

In HTML code, every element is defined by a starting tag. Should the aspect contain other content, you should pair it with a closing tag. The closing tag is a tag where a forward slash precedes the element name. Every starting tag requires a closing tag. The exceptions to this are known as self-closing tags.

Should the tags in your code not be closed properly, you may experience various unexpected issues with your webpage. One of these issues is the code opening as a text file rather than a functioning HTML file or webpage.

Scan through your code and ensure that all starting tags have their corresponding closing tags to fix this issue. You should also check the spelling and correct names of elements. This check is important because any typing errors within these tags will affect their functionality and thus the code’s functionality as a whole.

All starting tags should follow the same template. That is, <element name>. In turn, closing tags also follow the format </element name>.

Issue # 2: (<!DOCTYPE html>) was not Specified

When code is written, the type of document should be declared. This will avoid confusion or issues with formatting. In HTML code, the first line should include the (<!DOCTYPE html>) command. This is mentioned in coding to ensure that the browser recognizes that the specified document is HTML coding.

If the command is not specified, you may experience issues with browser rendering, and the paper will display as text rather than in HTML webpage format.

This happens because HTML code is written in a text editing program. When the document type is not specified, the browser will read the file as a text file since the file type has not been altered to indicate that it should be rendered as HTML code.

This may not always present as a problem, as some browsers will automatically recognize the code. However, it is best practice to include this line to avoid any potential formatting issues. To correct this, open up your code-containing text file and insert the command (<!DOCTYPE html>) to the first line of your code.

 (<!DOCTYPE html>) is a document specification command, and therefore does not need an opening or closing tag. Once the command appears in the code, the browser will render correctly and display the code in the desired format, rather than as a simple text document.

Issue # 3: Incorrect File Extension Used

The last issue, and perhaps the most common, that may be causing your code to show up as text is when the incorrect file extension is used to save your code. When saving your code, you should always use the extension “.htm” or “.html.” If this is not done, it is similar to not specifying the command (<!DOCTYPE html>). 

The text file needs to be identified as an HTML file to avoid this error. This is done in two ways.

Firstly, open up your text file containing your code and add the starting tag <html> underneath your document type command. Then add the closing tag </html> to the bottom of your code. You should write all code between these two tags to ensure that the browser recognizes that everything that is written in those lines is HTML code and should be rendered as such.

Secondly, when you are satisfied with your code and wish to save the text file to your computer, some steps should be followed to ensure that the file displays in the correct format when it is opened again. 

On the left-hand side of your text editor, there should be a button that reads “Save As…”. Click on this button, and File Explorer will open up, presenting you with an opportunity to name your file and select a file type.

Name your project file, and add the extension “.htm” or “.html” onto the end of the file name. Note that there is no difference between these two extensions, and they serve the same function. Using these extensions prevents confusion and helps avoid common problems.

Extensions ensure that your computer will know to open the file in a web browser and not in your text editing program when you open the file. It’s especially important to use extensions if you plan to upload your files to a web server.

These steps should mean that your file will now open as an HTML file rather than a text file. However, if this is not the case, you can follow one more step to fix this problem.

Once you have named your project file, you will see that underneath “File Name,” a section reads “Save as type.” Click on the button next to this text, and a drop-down menu will open up. Find the option in the menu that reads “HTML file” and select this option, or select “All file types.” Both of these options, paired with the “.html” extension, will allow your file to open correctly.


Now that all potential issues and solutions have been discussed, you have the tools you need to solve the code showing up as text. If all the correct steps have been followed, your HTML code should open up in a valid format. Your file is now up to standard and ready to be shown off and marveled at. 

While all three of these problems are caused by common mistakes, it should be mentioned that all the solutions that were discussed in this article should become standard practices in your coding routine. This will prevent you from repeating these kinds of issues and ensure that your files are always up to standard. Congratulations! You’re on your way to becoming a regular coding expert.