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HTML documents are defined by HTML elements.

HTML Elements

An HTML element is everything from the start tag to the end tag:

Start tag * Element content End tag *
This is a paragraph
This is a link

   

* The start tag is often called the opening tag. The end tag is often called the closing tag.

HTML Element Syntax

  • An HTML element starts with a start tag / opening tag
  • An HTML element ends with an end tag / closing tag
  • The element content is everything between the start and the end tag
  • Some HTML elements have empty content
  • Empty elements are closed in the start tag
  • Most HTML elements can have attributes
(You will learn about element attributes in the next chapter of this tutorial)

Nested HTML Elements

Most HTML elements can be nested (can contain other HTML elements).
HTML documents consist of nested HTML elements.

HTML Document Example




This is my first paragraph



The example above contains 3 HTML elements.

Example Explained

The element:

This is my first paragraph
The
element defines a paragraph in the HTML document
The element has a start tag
and an end tag

The element content is: This is my first paragraph

The element:


This is my first paragraph

The element defines the body of the HTML document
The element has a start tag and an end tag
The element content is another HTML element (a paragraph)

The element:




This is my first paragraph



The element defines the whole HTML document.
The element has a start tag and an end tag
The element content is another HTML element (the body)

Don't Forget the End Tag

Most browsers will display HTML correctly even if you forget the end tag:
This is a paragraph

This is a paragraph
The example above will work in most browsers, but don't rely on it. Forgetting the end tag can produce unexpected results or errors.
Note: Future version of HTML will not allow you to skip end tags.

Empty HTML Elements

HTML elements without content are called empty elements. Empty elements can be closed in the start tag.

is an empty element without a closing tag (it defines a line break).

In XHTML, XML, and future versions of HTML, all elements must be closed.

Adding a slash to the start tag, like
, is the proper way of closing empty elements, accepted by HTML, XHTML and XML.

Even if
works in all browsers, writing
instead is more future proof.

HTML Tip: Use Lowercase Tags

HTML tags are not case sensitive:
means the same as
. Plenty of web sites use uppercase HTML tags in their pages.
 

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