Many people initially think you have to manually color the elements, or manually escape the characters, but it’s much more simple than that, so I’ll cover everything necessary to embed snippets in your own blog or website in this article.
Basic knowledge of HTML and CSS.
Highlight code syntax in a website or blog.
Automatically escape HTML and PHP code in WordPress.
The faster, easier option for syntax highlighting is embedding the code in the form of a GitHub gist or Codepen pen. Both of these can be done with an account or anonymously.
Here is an example of the above code embedded as a GitHub gist:
And here is the above code embedded as a CodePen pen.
The advantage to embedding is that it’s quick and easy. CodePen in specific is excellent for demos because you can show the code and the result.
However, loading multiple embed scrips throughout your blog can slow it down significantly, and additionally you don’t have much control as to how the code snippet looks and what colors it uses. CodePen is only for front end web development, and you wouldn’t be able to embed code in PHP, Ruby, Python, and so on. For many, that might not matter, and for others it does. For both of these options, all you do is paste your code and find the “embed” button.
I’ll focus on Prism.js here, as it’s what I use for this site, but I’ve used all the above at some point and they’re all very similar.
On the Prism website, you can download the CSS and JS for Prism. They give you options on what languages and theme you plan to use, so you’ll just check the relevant ones and get the download.
All the Prism files are also available as a CDN, so if you don’t wish to download anything, you can do it that way.
For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to assume you don’t need anything special, and will use the most basic CDN. Link to the CSS in your <head>:
Now you override the styles with whatever you want in the CSS file. On this blog, I use New Moon, my own personal coding theme that I made available as an open-source package on Brackets, Atom, and Sublime because I’m that much of a dork. I encourage you to make your own as well.
Escaping HTML and PHP
In order to display HTML or PHP code, some of the symbols must be escaped so the browser doesn’t try to parse the code. You can use an online converter like Free Online HTML Escape Tool to do this if your website is plain HTML.
If you’re writing on a WordPress blog, there is a WordPress plugin to do this, but it doesn’t work properly with Prism.js.
Well, this was probably the most meta post I’ve ever made. Now you should know how to display beautiful code on your site in the way that works best for you. Each way has a limitation and advantage. I personally don’t like relying on a third party service for anything, which is why I don’t use gists or Disqus for comments. If you want to see some other helpful WordPress functions, this is the resource for you.