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Create Web Pages with Netscape Composer 4.x
[These directions were created for 4.x versions.  Later version will have
some differences, but the basic principles are the same.]
This is a work-in-progress.  I appreciate suggestions and corrections.

Before you can publish an html file in your Web server space on the George Mason University server, mason, you must first create your public_html directory and set permissions.  To do this, go to Create a Web page on mason (  Remember, your home page file must be named index.html.  Knowing the basic Web page commands helps you understand how html tags work and gives you control over your own Web creations. Using an html editor, like Netscape Composer, can make it easier to create long documents with lots of links and graphics and documents with tables.  These instructions are merely an overview and are not meant to be comprehensive. Programs like Dreamweaver and Microsoft Front Page can help you do more complex things, like create forms and frames.  See more Web publishing resources (

After you create a new Web page or edit an existing one, you then need to send it to your public_html directory by publishing it.

Create a new Web page:

1. Open Netscape browser. Click on the File pull-down menu (top, left-hand corner), select New.  Then select one of these three options:

  • Select Blank Page to start from scratch. 
  • Select Page From Template to connect to Netscape's server and choose a template to modify.  Then, click on the File pull-down menu and choose Edit Page. 
  • Choose Page From Wizard to connect to Netscape's server and answer a simple set of questions to create a Web page.  The Wizard is a great way to start a basic page.
OR:  From the bar in the lower, right-hand corner of the screen, click on the  icon. 

A blank "page" composer page looks very much like a blank wordprocessing page.  You can bold, center, change font style and size, insert images, etc. just as you can in a wordprocessor. Indenting does not work as in a wordprocessor. Notice the alignment "buttons," which allow you to justify left, right and center text. 

The color of text can be changed by highlighting the text and then clicking on the Format (near the top of the Composer window) or right-clicking on the highlighted text and selecting Character Properties.  Click on the color box and select the color.  You can also choose a custom color setting. 

You can change page colors and properties (such as color of links) by selecting the Format option, then Page Colors and Properties.

Edit a Web Page that has already been published:

Click on the File pull-down menu and choose Edit Page.  Save the page (click on the File pull-down menu
and choose Save or Save As) to your hard drive or diskette drive. 

Basic functions:

Format options
Web-specific formatting tags (below the File and Edit options on the Toolbar) can be selected from a list of options in the pull-down menu.  The options let you format headings, list items, italicize addresses, etc. Try them out and see the results.

Insert Links
Type in the name of the Web page you want to link to.  Highlight the name, then select the Insert command from the menu at the top of the Composer window. Then copy and paste the Web address (URL) in the box. Or select the Link icon (chain) from the menu bar.

Insert Images
Press the Image button to insert an image... or click the Insert pull-down menu and select Image.  Then select Choose file.  Find the location of the image file (It needs to be in .jpg or .gif format).  Be sure the "Leave image at original location" is not checked.  Then select OK.  The image must be sent to your public_html directory space. It does not automatically transfer when you send your HTML file.

Align Images 
Right-click on the image that you inserted and select Image Properties. You can select left, right or center alignment and other options.  You can also select options to adjust the relationship of your text to an image.  Experiment with the choices to see the effects. 

Insert a Table
- Place the cursor where you want the table to appear.  Select the Table icon or click on the Insert pull-down menu and select Table.  You can select a border or no border, the number of rows and columns, the alignment, size and color options. 

- To insert or delete rows or columns, insert the cursor in the row above the one you want to add.  Right click with your mouse. Then select insert or delete and choose the appropriate option. 

- To readjust a table, right-click anywhere in the table and select Table Properties.  You can change the relative size of cells, size of table, etc.

Spell check your Web page
Click the on the Tools pull-down menu at the top of the screen and select Check Spelling

Preview Your Web Page: 

Save any changes by pressing the Save button.  Then, press the Preview button (or from File menu, select Browse.  A Navigator browser window will open displaying the page (the Composer window will stay open behind).

View or Edit the HTML Code:

To create HTML documents with Composer, you do not need to know HTML.  But if you do, you can have control over your html material and "tweak" things.  HTML editing programs do not always produce the results you want. 

To view the HTML source code which Composer is creating, select the View menu at the top of the screen and select Page Source.

To edit the HTML source of the page you are creating in Composer, select Tools, then HTML Tools, then Edit HTML SourceSelect Apply to save your changes. 

[If you get a message that says "No editor selected,"  you will have to locate the notepad.exe or wordpad.exe file on your hard drive and select this as the editor. To do this, click on the Edit pull-down menu and select Preferences.  From the options in the left frame, click on the + (plus sign) in front of the word Navigator and select Applications.  In the frame on the right, scroll down until you find Hypertext Markup Language.  Highlight it and press the Edit button on the right.  Click on the Application button and then click on Browse button.  Locate the editor of your choice, for example,  notepad.exe or wordpad.exe, and double click on one of those .exe files to set the editor.]

Publish Your Web Document (put a copy in your public_html Web directory on mason):

Warning: When you publish a new version of an old file, your original file will be overwritten if it has the same name.  So keep a copy of your old file until you are sure the replacement is satisfactory. 

Publish using WSftp: 

I prefer to use a program like WSftp for Windows to publish my files and upload images.  I feel I have more control. WSftp is available on campus computers. Download WSftp and see instructions for how to use it with mason.  With WSftp you can rename files and see all of the files in your Web directory.  It is easy to accidentally delete files.  So keep a back up of your Web files on a disk or hard drive. If you have a MAC, use the  Fetch ftp program..

Publish using Composer:

Click the Publish button in Composer.  This will bring up the Publish window.  Type in your page title.  This title will appear in the title bar of the Web browser, not on your Web page itself.  Then type in the name of the html file you want to publish.  The name must match the file name exactly.  Don't leave spaces in the file name.  The file name must  end in .html or .htm.  It is best to use lowercase. Remember, your main file - your "home" file must be called index.html.

The fields entitled "HTTP or FTP Location to publish to:" specifies an FTP transfer to the host or  Your path to publish your file in mason/osf1 looks like this:

Substitute "yourmasonname" with your mason email name without the extension. The" ftp://" is not part of the file path, but is the command for file transfer protocol to send your file to your public_html directory.

In the User name box, type your user name for the mason server. 

In the Password box, enter your password for your account.  Note that your password will only appear as asterisks to protect your privacy.
Do not click the Save password box if you are using a campus computer.  I recommend never selecting the "save password" option since many people could have access to your computer.

Notice the "Other files to include" options. You can select the All files in page's folder option or Files associated with this page. I recommend you only select the files associated with this page option. This will let you upload any images or other files that go with this document.  Be sure, however, that the associated files are the most recent versions. Otherwise, files in your directory could be accidentally replaced with older versions. If you are not sure about associated files, select the "none" option.  For total control over what you are doing, only select one file at a time to ftp.

Press the OK button to send your new file/files to your public_html directory.. 

If, when you look at your page on the Web you don't see the latest version, click on the Reload button while viewing the desired page.

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