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Built in Semantics in HTML

This is a rough and ready analysis of the built in semantics of HTML. I've left out the semantics of tables and their associated elements and attributes, as these are specific to one kind of markup (tabular data), as opposed to markup more generally. It by no means implies that such markup is not "semantic" (when used appropriately it of course is). Similarly, markup for forms is excluded, and again, of course this markup is semantic when used appropriately. I've also excluded deprecated elements and attributes, regardless of whether they are semantic or presentational. In addition, I've left out included (or "replaced" content (such as object, and img)). My reasoning here is that these are not so much for marking up content, and "transcluding" it from elsewhere.

In this related document, I've tried to classify each of the elements and attributes according to the type of semantics they express.


Each A element defines an anchor
Indicates an abbreviated form
Indicates an acronym
The ADDRESS element may be used by authors to supply contact information for a document or a major part of a document such as a form
BLOCKQUOTE is for long quotations (block-level content)
Contains a citation or a reference to other sources
Designates a fragment of computer code
Indicates that this is the defining instance of the enclosed term
div, span
The DIV and SPAN elements, in conjunction with the id and class attributes, offer a generic mechanism for adding structure to documents
dl, dd, dt
Definition lists, created using the DL element, generally consist of a series of term/definition pairs (although definition lists may have other applications). The term is given by the DT element and is restricted to inline content. The description is given with a DD element that contains block-level content
del, ins
INS and DEL are used to markup sections of the document that have been inserted or deleted with respect to a different version of a document
Indicates emphasis
h1 .. h6
A heading element briefly describes the topic of the section it introduces
Indicates text to be entered by the user
ul, ol, li
unordered and ordered lists are in fact not defined in the specification. "Lists may contain: Unordered information. Ordered information. Definitions."
The P element represents a paragraph
Q is intended for short quotations (inline content) that don't require paragraph breaks
Designates sample output from programs, scripts, etc
Indicates stronger emphasis
Indicates an instance of a variable or program argument


For user agents that cannot display images, forms, or applets, this attribute specifies alternate text
This attribute assigns a class name or set of class names to an element ... For general purpose processing by user agents
The value of this attribute is a URI that designates a source document or message. This attribute is intended to point to information explaining why a document was changed.
The value of this attribute is a URI that designates a source document or message. This attribute is intended to give information about the source from which the quotation was borrowed
The value of this attribute specifies the date and time when the change was made
The id attribute assigns a unique identifier to an element ... For general purpose processing by user agents
This attribute specifies the base language of an element's attribute values and text content
This attribute specifies a link to a long description of the image
This attribute describes the relationship from the current document to the anchor specified by the href attribute
This attribute is used to describe a reverse link from the anchor specified by the href attribute to the current document
This attribute offers advisory information about the element for which it is set


Got any comments, suggestions, thoughts or feedback? Please join the discussion at microformatique, a blog about web semantics, and microformats.

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