This is a snapshot of an early working draft and has therefore been superseded by the HTML standard.

This document will not be further updated.

HTML5

Draft Standard — Call For Comments — 27 October 2009

4.5 Grouping content

4.5.1 The p element

Categories
Flow content.
formatBlock candidate.
Contexts in which this element may be used:
Where flow content is expected.
Content model:
Phrasing content.
Content attributes:
Global attributes
DOM interface:
interface HTMLParagraphElement : HTMLElement {};

The p element represents a paragraph.

The following examples are conforming HTML fragments:

<p>The little kitten gently seated himself on a piece of
carpet. Later in his life, this would be referred to as the time the
cat sat on the mat.</p>
<fieldset>
 <legend>Personal information</legend>
 <p>
   <label>Name: <input name="n"></label>
   <label><input name="anon" type="checkbox"> Hide from other users</label>
 </p>
 <p><label>Address: <textarea name="a"></textarea></label></p>
</fieldset>
<p>There was once an example from Femley,<br>
Whose markup was of dubious quality.<br>
The validator complained,<br>
So the author was pained,<br>
To move the error from the markup to the rhyming.</p>

The p element should not be used when a more specific element is more appropriate.

The following example is technically correct:

<section>
 <!-- ... -->
 <p>Last modified: 2001-04-23</p>
 <p>Author: fred@example.com</p>
</section>

However, it would be better marked-up as:

<section>
 <!-- ... -->
 <footer>Last modified: 2001-04-23</footer>
 <address>Author: fred@example.com</address>
</section>

Or:

<section>
 <!-- ... -->
 <footer>
  <p>Last modified: 2001-04-23</p>
  <address>Author: fred@example.com</address>
 </footer>
</section>

4.5.2 The hr element

Categories
Flow content.
Contexts in which this element may be used:
Where flow content is expected.
Content model:
Empty.
Content attributes:
Global attributes
DOM interface:
interface HTMLHRElement : HTMLElement {};

The hr element represents a paragraph-level thematic break, e.g. a scene change in a story, or a transition to another topic within a section of a reference book.

The following extract from Pandora's Star by Peter F. Hamilton shows two paragraphs that precede a scene change and the paragraph that follows it. The scene change, represented in the printed book by a gap containing a solitary centered star between the second and third paragraphs, is here represented using the hr element.

<p>Dudley was ninety-two, in his second life, and fast approaching
time for another rejuvenation. Despite his body having the physical
age of a standard fifty-year-old, the prospect of a long degrading
campaign within academia was one he regarded with dread. For a
supposedly advanced civilization, the Intersolar Commonwearth could be
appallingly backward at times, not to mention cruel.</p>
<p><i>Maybe it won't be that bad</i>, he told himself. The lie was
comforting enough to get him through the rest of the night's
shift.</p>
<hr>
<p>The Carlton AllLander drove Dudley home just after dawn. Like the
astronomer, the vehicle was old and worn, but perfectly capable of
doing its job. It had a cheap diesel engine, common enough on a
semi-frontier world like Gralmond, although its drive array was a
thoroughly modern photoneural processor. With its high suspension and
deep-tread tyres it could plough along the dirt track to the
observatory in all weather and seasons, including the metre-deep snow
of Gralmond's winters.</p>

4.5.3 The br element

Categories
Flow content.
Phrasing content.
Contexts in which this element may be used:
Where phrasing content is expected.
Content model:
Empty.
Content attributes:
Global attributes
DOM interface:
interface HTMLBRElement : HTMLElement {};

The br element represents a line break.

br elements must be used only for line breaks that are actually part of the content, as in poems or addresses.

The following example is correct usage of the br element:

<p>P. Sherman<br>
42 Wallaby Way<br>
Sydney</p>

br elements must not be used for separating thematic groups in a paragraph.

The following examples are non-conforming, as they abuse the br element:

<p><a ...>34 comments.</a><br>
<a ...>Add a comment.</a></p>
<p><label>Name: <input name="name"></label><br>
<label>Address: <input name="address"></label></p>

Here are alternatives to the above, which are correct:

<p><a ...>34 comments.</a></p>
<p><a ...>Add a comment.</a></p>
<p><label>Name: <input name="name"></label></p>
<p><label>Address: <input name="address"></label></p>

If a paragraph consists of nothing but a single br element, it represents a placeholder blank line (e.g. as in a template). Such blank lines must not be used for presentation purposes.

Any content inside br elements must not be considered part of the surrounding text.

4.5.4 The pre element

Categories
Flow content.
formatBlock candidate.
Contexts in which this element may be used:
Where flow content is expected.
Content model:
Phrasing content.
Content attributes:
Global attributes
DOM interface:
interface HTMLPreElement : HTMLElement {};

The pre element represents a block of preformatted text, in which structure is represented by typographic conventions rather than by elements.

In the the HTML syntax, a leading newline character immediately following the pre element start tag is stripped.

Some examples of cases where the pre element could be used:

Authors are encouraged to consider how preformatted text will be experienced when the formatting is lost, as will be the case for users of speech synthesizers, braille displays, and the like. For cases like ASCII art, it is likely that an alternative presentation, such as a textual description, would be more universally accessible to the readers of the document.

To represent a block of computer code, the pre element can be used with a code element; to represent a block of computer output the pre element can be used with a samp element. Similarly, the kbd element can be used within a pre element to indicate text that the user is to enter.

In the following snippet, a sample of computer code is presented.

<p>This is the <code>Panel</code> constructor:</p>
<pre><code>function Panel(element, canClose, closeHandler) {
  this.element = element;
  this.canClose = canClose;
  this.closeHandler = function () { if (closeHandler) closeHandler() };
}</code></pre>

In the following snippet, samp and kbd elements are mixed in the contents of a pre element to show a session of Zork I.

<pre><samp>You are in an open field west of a big white house with a boarded
front door.
There is a small mailbox here.

></samp> <kbd>open mailbox</kbd>

<samp>Opening the mailbox reveals:
A leaflet.

></samp></pre>

The following shows a contemporary poem that uses the pre element to preserve its unusual formatting, which forms an intrinsic part of the poem itself.

<pre>                maxling

it is with a          heart
               heavy

that i admit loss of a feline
        so           loved

a friend lost to the
        unknown
                                (night)

~cdr 11dec07</pre>

4.5.5 The blockquote element

Categories
Flow content.
Sectioning root.
formatBlock candidate.
Contexts in which this element may be used:
Where flow content is expected.
Content model:
Flow content.
Content attributes:
Global attributes
cite
DOM interface:
interface HTMLQuoteElement : HTMLElement {
           attribute DOMString cite;
};

The HTMLQuoteElement interface is also used by the q element.

The blockquote element represents a section that is quoted from another source.

Content inside a blockquote must be quoted from another source, whose address, if it has one, should be cited in the cite attribute.

If the cite attribute is present, it must be a valid URL. To obtain the corresponding citation link, the value of the attribute must be resolved relative to the element. User agents should allow users to follow such citation links.

The cite IDL attribute must reflect the element's cite content attribute.

This next example shows the use of cite alongside blockquote:

<p>His next piece was the aptly named <cite>Sonnet 130</cite>:</p>
<blockquote cite="http://quotes.example.org/s/sonnet130.html">
  <p>My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun,<br>
  Coral is far more red, than her lips red,<br>
  ...

Examples of how to represent a conversation are shown below; it is not appropriate to use the cite and blockquote elements for this purpose.

4.5.6 The ol element

Categories
Flow content.
Contexts in which this element may be used:
Where flow content is expected.
Content model:
Zero or more li elements.
Content attributes:
Global attributes
reversed
start
DOM interface:
interface HTMLOListElement : HTMLElement {
           attribute boolean reversed;
           attribute long start;
};

The ol element represents a list of items, where the items have been intentionally ordered, such that changing the order would change the meaning of the document.

The items of the list are the li element child nodes of the ol element, in tree order.

The reversed attribute is a boolean attribute. If present, it indicates that the list is a descending list (..., 3, 2, 1). If the attribute is omitted, the list is an ascending list (1, 2, 3, ...).

The start attribute, if present, must be a valid integer giving the ordinal value of the first list item.

If the start attribute is present, user agents must parse it as an integer, in order to determine the attribute's value. The default value, used if the attribute is missing or if the value cannot be converted to a number according to the referenced algorithm, is 1 if the element has no reversed attribute, and is the number of child li elements otherwise.

The first item in the list has the ordinal value given by the ol element's start attribute, unless that li element has a value attribute with a value that can be successfully parsed, in which case it has the ordinal value given by that value attribute.

Each subsequent item in the list has the ordinal value given by its value attribute, if it has one, or, if it doesn't, the ordinal value of the previous item, plus one if the reversed is absent, or minus one if it is present.

The reversed IDL attribute must reflect the value of the reversed content attribute.

The start IDL attribute must reflect the value of the start content attribute.

The following markup shows a list where the order matters, and where the ol element is therefore appropriate. Compare this list to the equivalent list in the ul section to see an example of the same items using the ul element.

<p>I have lived in the following countries (given in the order of when
I first lived there):</p>
<ol>
 <li>Switzerland
 <li>United Kingdom
 <li>United States
 <li>Norway
</ol>

Note how changing the order of the list changes the meaning of the document. In the following example, changing the relative order of the first two items has changed the birthplace of the author:

<p>I have lived in the following countries (given in the order of when
I first lived there):</p>
<ol>
 <li>United Kingdom
 <li>Switzerland
 <li>United States
 <li>Norway
</ol>

4.5.7 The ul element

Categories
Flow content.
Contexts in which this element may be used:
Where flow content is expected.
Content model:
Zero or more li elements.
Content attributes:
Global attributes
DOM interface:
interface HTMLUListElement : HTMLElement {};

The ul element represents a list of items, where the order of the items is not important — that is, where changing the order would not materially change the meaning of the document.

The items of the list are the li element child nodes of the ul element.

The following markup shows a list where the order does not matter, and where the ul element is therefore appropriate. Compare this list to the equivalent list in the ol section to see an example of the same items using the ol element.

<p>I have lived in the following countries:</p>
<ul>
 <li>Norway
 <li>Switzerland
 <li>United Kingdom
 <li>United States
</ul>

Note that changing the order of the list does not change the meaning of the document. The items in the snippet above are given in alphabetical order, but in the snippet below they are given in order of the size of their current account balance in 2007, without changing the meaning of the document whatsoever:

<p>I have lived in the following countries:</p>
<ul>
 <li>Switzerland
 <li>Norway
 <li>United Kingdom
 <li>United States
</ul>

4.5.8 The li element

Categories
None.
Contexts in which this element may be used:
Inside ol elements.
Inside ul elements.
Inside menu elements.
Content model:
Flow content.
Content attributes:
Global attributes
If the element is a child of an ol element: value
DOM interface:
interface HTMLLIElement : HTMLElement {
           attribute long value;
};

The li element represents a list item. If its parent element is an ol, ul, or menu element, then the element is an item of the parent element's list, as defined for those elements. Otherwise, the list item has no defined list-related relationship to any other li element.

The value attribute, if present, must be a valid integer giving the ordinal value of the list item.

If the value attribute is present, user agents must parse it as an integer, in order to determine the attribute's value. If the attribute's value cannot be converted to a number, the attribute must be treated as if it was absent. The attribute has no default value.

The value attribute is processed relative to the element's parent ol element (q.v.), if there is one. If there is not, the attribute has no effect.

The value IDL attribute must reflect the value of the value content attribute.

The following example, the top ten movies are listed (in reverse order). Note the way the list is given a title by using a figure element and its dt element.

<figure>
 <dt>The top 10 movies of all time</dt>
 <dd>
  <ol>
   <li value="10"><cite>Josie and the Pussycats</cite>, 2001</li>
   <li value="9"><cite lang="sh">Црна мачка, бели мачор</cite>, 1998</li>
   <li value="8"><cite>A Bug's Life</cite>, 1998</li>
   <li value="7"><cite>Toy Story</cite>, 1995</li>
   <li value="6"><cite>Monsters, Inc</cite>, 2001</li>
   <li value="5"><cite>Cars</cite>, 2006</li>
   <li value="4"><cite>Toy Story 2</cite>, 1999</li>
   <li value="3"><cite>Finding Nemo</cite>, 2003</li>
   <li value="2"><cite>The Incredibles</cite>, 2004</li>
   <li value="1"><cite>Ratatouille</cite>, 2007</li>
  </ol>
 <dd>
</figure>

The markup could also be written as follows, using the reversed attribute on the ol element:

<figure>
 <dt>The top 10 movies of all time</dt>
 <dd>
  <ol reversed>
   <li><cite>Josie and the Pussycats</cite>, 2001</li>
   <li><cite lang="sh">Црна мачка, бели мачор</cite>, 1998</li>
   <li><cite>A Bug's Life</cite>, 1998</li>
   <li><cite>Toy Story</cite>, 1995</li>
   <li><cite>Monsters, Inc</cite>, 2001</li>
   <li><cite>Cars</cite>, 2006</li>
   <li><cite>Toy Story 2</cite>, 1999</li>
   <li><cite>Finding Nemo</cite>, 2003</li>
   <li><cite>The Incredibles</cite>, 2004</li>
   <li><cite>Ratatouille</cite>, 2007</li>
  </ol>
 </dd>
</figure>

If the li element is the child of a menu element and itself has a child that defines a command, then the li element will match the :enabled and :disabled pseudo-classes in the same way as the first such child element does.

4.5.9 The dl element

Categories
Flow content.
Contexts in which this element may be used:
Where flow content is expected.
Content model:
Zero or more groups each consisting of one or more dt elements followed by one or more dd elements.
Content attributes:
Global attributes
DOM interface:
interface HTMLDListElement : HTMLElement {};

The dl element represents an association list consisting of zero or more name-value groups (a description list). Each group must consist of one or more names (dt elements) followed by one or more values (dd elements). Within a single dl element, there should not be more than one dt element for each name.

Name-value groups may be terms and definitions, metadata topics and values, or any other groups of name-value data.

The values within a group are alternatives; multiple paragraphs forming part of the same value must all be given within the same dd element.

The order of the list of groups, and of the names and values within each group, may be significant.

If a dl element is empty, it contains no groups.

If a dl element contains non-whitespace text nodes, or elements other than dt and dd, then those elements or text nodes do not form part of any groups in that dl.

If a dl element contains only dt elements, then it consists of one group with names but no values.

If a dl element contains only dd elements, then it consists of one group with values but no names.

If a dl element starts with one or more dd elements, then the first group has no associated name.

If a dl element ends with one or more dt elements, then the last group has no associated value.

When a dl element doesn't match its content model, it is often due to accidentally using dd elements in the place of dt elements and vice versa. Conformance checkers can spot such mistakes and might be able to advise authors how to correctly use the markup.

In the following example, one entry ("Authors") is linked to two values ("John" and "Luke").

<dl>
 <dt> Authors
 <dd> John
 <dd> Luke
 <dt> Editor
 <dd> Frank
</dl>

In the following example, one definition is linked to two terms.

<dl>
 <dt lang="en-US"> <dfn>color</dfn> </dt>
 <dt lang="en-GB"> <dfn>colour</dfn> </dt>
 <dd> A sensation which (in humans) derives from the ability of
 the fine structure of the eye to distinguish three differently
 filtered analyses of a view. </dd>
</dl>

The following example illustrates the use of the dl element to mark up metadata of sorts. At the end of the example, one group has two metadata labels ("Authors" and "Editors") and two values ("Robert Rothman" and "Daniel Jackson").

<dl>
 <dt> Last modified time </dt>
 <dd> 2004-12-23T23:33Z </dd>
 <dt> Recommended update interval </dt>
 <dd> 60s </dd>
 <dt> Authors </dt>
 <dt> Editors </dt>
 <dd> Robert Rothman </dd>
 <dd> Daniel Jackson </dd>
</dl>

The following example shows the dl element used to give a set of instructions. The order of the instructions here is important (in the other examples, the order of the blocks was not important).

<p>Determine the victory points as follows (use the
first matching case):</p>
<dl>
 <dt> If you have exactly five gold coins </dt>
 <dd> You get five victory points </dd>
 <dt> If you have one or more gold coins, and you have one or more silver coins </dt>
 <dd> You get two victory points </dd>
 <dt> If you have one or more silver coins </dt>
 <dd> You get one victory point </dd>
 <dt> Otherwise </dt>
 <dd> You get no victory points </dd>
</dl>

The following snippet shows a dl element being used as a glossary. Note the use of dfn to indicate the word being defined.

<dl>
 <dt><dfn>Apartment</dfn>, n.</dt>
 <dd>An execution context grouping one or more threads with one or
 more COM objects.</dd>
 <dt><dfn>Flat</dfn>, n.</dt>
 <dd>A deflated tire.</dd>
 <dt><dfn>Home</dfn>, n.</dt>
 <dd>The user's login directory.</dd>
</dl>

The dl element is inappropriate for marking up dialogue. Examples of how to mark up dialogue are shown below.

4.5.10 The dt element

Categories
None.
Contexts in which this element may be used:
Before dd or dt elements inside dl elements.
In a figure element containing no other dt element children.
As the first child of a details element.
Content model:
When the parent node is a figure element: flow content, but with no descendant figure elements.
Otherwise: phrasing content.
Content attributes:
Global attributes
DOM interface:
Uses HTMLElement.

The dt element represents either: the term, or name, part of a term-description group in a description list (dl element); or, the caption of a figure element; or, the summary of a details element.

The dt element itself, when used in a dl element, does not indicate that its contents are a term being defined, but this can be indicated using the dfn element.

4.5.11 The dd element

Categories
None.
Contexts in which this element may be used:
After dt or dd elements inside dl elements.
In a figure element containing no other dd element children.
As the last child of a details element.
Content model:
Flow content.
Content attributes:
Global attributes
DOM interface:
Uses HTMLElement.

The dd element represents either: the description, definition, or value, part of a term-description group in a description list (dl element); or, the data of a figure element; or, the details of a details element.

A dl can be used to define a vocabulary list, like in a dictionary. In the following example, each entry, given by a dt with a dfn, has several dds, showing the various parts of the definition.

<dl>
 <dt><dfn>happiness</dfn></dt>
 <dd class="pronunciation">/'hæ p. nes/</dd>
 <dd class="part-of-speech"><i><abbr>n.</abbr></i></dd>
 <dd>The state of being happy.</dd>
 <dd>Good fortune; success. <q>Oh <b>happiness</b>! It worked!</q></dd>
 <dt><dfn>rejoice</dfn></dt>
 <dd class="pronunciation">/ri jois'/</dd>
 <dd><i class="part-of-speech"><abbr>v.intr.</abbr></i> To be delighted oneself.</dd>
 <dd><i class="part-of-speech"><abbr>v.tr.</abbr></i> To cause one to be delighted.</dd>
</dl>

4.5.12 The div element

Categories
Flow content.
formatBlock candidate.
Contexts in which this element may be used:
Where flow content is expected.
Content model:
Flow content.
Content attributes:
Global attributes
DOM interface:
interface HTMLDivElement : HTMLElement {};

The div element has no special meaning at all. It represents its children. It can be used with the class, lang, and title attributes to mark up semantics common to a group of consecutive elements.

Authors are strongly encouraged to view the div element as an element of last resort, for when no other element is suitable. Use of the div element instead of more appropriate elements leads to poor accessibility for readers and poor maintainability for authors.

For example, a blog post would be marked up using article, a chapter using section, a page's navigation aids using nav, and a group of form controls using fieldset.

On the other hand, div elements can be useful for stylistic purposes or to wrap multiple paragraphs within a section that are all to be annotated in a similar way. In the following example, we see div elements used as a way to set the language of two paragraphs at once, instead of setting the language on the two paragraph elements separately:

<article lang="en-US">
 <h1>My use of language and my cats</h1>
 <p>My cat's behavior hasn't changed much since her absence, except
 that she plays her new physique to the neighbors regularly, in an
 attempt to get pets.</p>
 <div lang="en-GB">
  <p>My other cat, coloured black and white, is a sweetie. He followed
  us to the pool today, walking down the pavement with us. Yesterday
  he apparently visited our neighbours. I wonder if he recognises that
  their flat is a mirror image of ours.</p>
  <p>Hm, I just noticed that in the last paragraph I used British
  English. But I'm supposed to write in American English. So I
  shouldn't say "pavement" or "flat" or "colour"...</p>
 </div>
 <p>I should say "sidewalk" and "apartment" and "color"!</p>
</article>