3 Semantics, structure, and APIs of HTML documents

3.1 Documents

Every XML and HTML document in an HTML UA is represented by a Document object. [DOMCORE]

The document's address is an absolute URL that is initially set when the Document is created but that can change during the lifetime of the Document, for example when the user navigates to a fragment identifier on the page or when the pushState() method is called with a new URL.

Interactive user agents typically expose the document's address in their user interface. This is the primary mechanism by which a user can tell if a site is attempting to impersonate another.

When a Document is created by a script using the createDocument() or createHTMLDocument() APIs, the document's address is the same as the document's address of the script's document, and the Document is both ready for post-load tasks and completely loaded immediately.

Each Document object has a reload override flag that is originally unset. The flag is set by the document.open() and document.write() methods in certain situations. When the flag is set, the Document also has a reload override buffer which is a Unicode string that is used as the source of the document when it is reloaded.

When the user agent is to perform an overridden reload, it must act as follows:

  1. Let source be the value of the browsing context's active document's reload override buffer.

  2. Navigate the browsing context to a resource whose source is source, with replacement enabled. When the navigate algorithm creates a Document object for this purpose, set that Document's reload override flag and set its reload override buffer to source.

3.1.1 The Document object

The DOM Core specification defines a Document interface, which this specification extends significantly:

[OverrideBuiltins]
partial interface Document {
  // resource metadata management
  [PutForwards=href] readonly attribute Location? location;
           attribute DOMString domain;
  readonly attribute DOMString referrer;
           attribute DOMString cookie;
  readonly attribute DOMString lastModified;
  readonly attribute DOMString readyState;

  // DOM tree accessors
  getter object (DOMString name);
           attribute DOMString title;
           attribute DOMString dir;
           attribute HTMLElement? body;
  readonly attribute HTMLHeadElement? head;
  readonly attribute HTMLCollection images;
  readonly attribute HTMLCollection embeds;
  readonly attribute HTMLCollection plugins;
  readonly attribute HTMLCollection links;
  readonly attribute HTMLCollection forms;
  readonly attribute HTMLCollection scripts;
  NodeList getElementsByName(DOMString elementName);



  // dynamic markup insertion
  Document open(optional DOMString type, optional DOMString replace);
  WindowProxy open(DOMString url, DOMString name, DOMString features, optional boolean replace);
  void close();
  void write(DOMString... text);
  void writeln(DOMString... text);

  // user interaction
  readonly attribute WindowProxy? defaultView;
  readonly attribute Element? activeElement;
  boolean hasFocus();
           attribute DOMString designMode;
  boolean execCommand(DOMString commandId);
  boolean execCommand(DOMString commandId, boolean showUI);
  boolean execCommand(DOMString commandId, boolean showUI, DOMString value);
  boolean queryCommandEnabled(DOMString commandId);
  boolean queryCommandIndeterm(DOMString commandId);
  boolean queryCommandState(DOMString commandId);
  boolean queryCommandSupported(DOMString commandId);
  DOMString queryCommandValue(DOMString commandId);
  readonly attribute HTMLCollection commands;

  // event handler IDL attributes
           attribute EventHandler onabort;
           attribute EventHandler onblur;
           attribute EventHandler oncancel;
           attribute EventHandler oncanplay;
           attribute EventHandler oncanplaythrough;
           attribute EventHandler onchange;
           attribute EventHandler onclick;
           attribute EventHandler onclose;
           attribute EventHandler oncontextmenu;
           attribute EventHandler oncuechange;
           attribute EventHandler ondblclick;
           attribute EventHandler ondrag;
           attribute EventHandler ondragend;
           attribute EventHandler ondragenter;
           attribute EventHandler ondragleave;
           attribute EventHandler ondragover;
           attribute EventHandler ondragstart;
           attribute EventHandler ondrop;
           attribute EventHandler ondurationchange;
           attribute EventHandler onemptied;
           attribute EventHandler onended;
           attribute OnErrorEventHandler onerror;
           attribute EventHandler onfocus;
           attribute EventHandler oninput;
           attribute EventHandler oninvalid;
           attribute EventHandler onkeydown;
           attribute EventHandler onkeypress;
           attribute EventHandler onkeyup;
           attribute EventHandler onload;
           attribute EventHandler onloadeddata;
           attribute EventHandler onloadedmetadata;
           attribute EventHandler onloadstart;
           attribute EventHandler onmousedown;
           attribute EventHandler onmousemove;
           attribute EventHandler onmouseout;
           attribute EventHandler onmouseover;
           attribute EventHandler onmouseup;
           attribute EventHandler onmousewheel;
           attribute EventHandler onpause;
           attribute EventHandler onplay;
           attribute EventHandler onplaying;
           attribute EventHandler onprogress;
           attribute EventHandler onratechange;
           attribute EventHandler onreset;
           attribute EventHandler onscroll;
           attribute EventHandler onseeked;
           attribute EventHandler onseeking;
           attribute EventHandler onselect;
           attribute EventHandler onshow;
           attribute EventHandler onstalled;
           attribute EventHandler onsubmit;
           attribute EventHandler onsuspend;
           attribute EventHandler ontimeupdate;
           attribute EventHandler onvolumechange;
           attribute EventHandler onwaiting;

  // special event handler IDL attributes that only apply to Document objects
  [LenientThis] attribute EventHandler onreadystatechange;
};

3.1.2 Security

User agents must throw a SecurityError exception whenever any properties of a Document object are accessed by scripts whose effective script origin is not the same as the Document's effective script origin.

3.1.3 Resource metadata management

document . referrer

Returns the address of the Document from which the user navigated to this one, unless it was blocked or there was no such document, in which case it returns the empty string.

The noreferrer link type can be used to block the referrer.

The referrer attribute must return either the address of the active document of the source browsing context at the time the navigation was started (that is, the page which navigated the browsing context to the current document), with any <fragment> component removed; or the empty string if there is no such originating page, or if the UA has been configured not to report referrers in this case, or if the navigation was initiated for a hyperlink with a noreferrer keyword.

In the case of HTTP, the referrer IDL attribute will match the Referer (sic) header that was sent when fetching the current page.

Typically user agents are configured to not report referrers in the case where the referrer uses an encrypted protocol and the current page does not (e.g. when navigating from an https: page to an http: page).


document . cookie [ = value ]

Returns the HTTP cookies that apply to the Document. If there are no cookies or cookies can't be applied to this resource, the empty string will be returned.

Can be set, to add a new cookie to the element's set of HTTP cookies.

If the contents are sandboxed into a unique origin (e.g. in an iframe with the sandbox attribute), a SecurityError exception will be thrown on getting and setting.

The cookie attribute represents the cookies of the resource identified by the document's address.

A Document object that falls into one of the following conditions is a cookie-averse Document object:

On getting, if the document is a cookie-averse Document object, then the user agent must return the empty string. Otherwise, if the Document's origin is not a scheme/host/port tuple, the user agent must throw a SecurityError exception. Otherwise, the user agent must first obtain the storage mutex and then return the cookie-string for the document's address for a "non-HTTP" API, decoded as UTF-8, with error handling. [COOKIES]

On setting, if the document is a cookie-averse Document object, then the user agent must do nothing. Otherwise, if the Document's origin is not a scheme/host/port tuple, the user agent must throw a SecurityError exception. Otherwise, the user agent must obtain the storage mutex and then act as it would when receiving a set-cookie-string for the document's address via a "non-HTTP" API, consisting of the new value encoded as UTF-8. [COOKIES] [RFC3629]

Since the cookie attribute is accessible across frames, the path restrictions on cookies are only a tool to help manage which cookies are sent to which parts of the site, and are not in any way a security feature.


document . lastModified

Returns the date of the last modification to the document, as reported by the server, in the form "MM/DD/YYYY hh:mm:ss", in the user's local time zone.

If the last modification date is not known, the current time is returned instead.

The lastModified attribute, on getting, must return the date and time of the Document's source file's last modification, in the user's local time zone, in the following format:

  1. The month component of the date.
  2. A "/" (U+002F) character.
  3. The day component of the date.
  4. A "/" (U+002F) character.
  5. The year component of the date.
  6. A U+0020 SPACE character.
  7. The hours component of the time.
  8. A ":" (U+003A) character.
  9. The minutes component of the time.
  10. A ":" (U+003A) character.
  11. The seconds component of the time.

All the numeric components above, other than the year, must be given as two digits in the range ASCII digits representing the number in base ten, zero-padded if necessary. The year must be given as the shortest possible string of four or more digits in the range ASCII digits representing the number in base ten, zero-padded if necessary.

The Document's source file's last modification date and time must be derived from relevant features of the networking protocols used, e.g. from the value of the HTTP Last-Modified header of the document, or from metadata in the file system for local files. If the last modification date and time are not known, the attribute must return the current date and time in the above format.


document . readyState

Returns "loading" while the Document is loading, "interactive" once it is finished parsing but still loading sub-resources, and "complete" once it has loaded.

The readystatechange event fires on the Document object when this value changes.

Each document has a current document readiness. When a Document object is created, it must have its current document readiness set to the string "loading" if the document is associated with an HTML parser, an XML parser, or an XSLT processor, and to the string "complete" otherwise. Various algorithms during page loading affect this value. When the value is set, the user agent must fire a simple event named readystatechange at the Document object.

A Document is said to have an active parser if it is associated with an HTML parser or an XML parser that has not yet been stopped or aborted.

The readyState IDL attribute must, on getting, return the current document readiness.

3.1.4 DOM tree accessors

The html element of a document is the document's root element, if there is one and it's an html element, or null otherwise.


document . head

Returns the head element.

The head element of a document is the first head element that is a child of the html element, if there is one, or null otherwise.

The head attribute, on getting, must return the head element of the document (a head element or null).


document . title [ = value ]

Returns the document's title, as given by the title element.

Can be set, to update the document's title. If there is no head element, the new value is ignored.

In SVG documents, the SVGDocument interface's title attribute takes precedence.

The title element of a document is the first title element in the document (in tree order), if there is one, or null otherwise.

The title attribute must, on getting, run the following algorithm:

  1. If the root element is an svg element in the "http://www.w3.org/2000/svg" namespace, and the user agent supports SVG, then return the value that would have been returned by the IDL attribute of the same name on the SVGDocument interface. [SVG]

  2. Otherwise, let value be a concatenation of the data of all the child Text nodes of the title element, in tree order, or the empty string if the title element is null.

  3. Replace any sequence of one or more consecutive space characters in value with a single U+0020 SPACE character.

  4. Strip leading and trailing whitespace from value.

  5. Return value.

On setting, the following algorithm must be run. Mutation events must be fired as appropriate.

  1. If the root element is an svg element in the "http://www.w3.org/2000/svg" namespace, and the user agent supports SVG, then the setter must act as if it was the setter for the IDL attribute of the same name on the Document interface defined by the SVG specification. Stop the algorithm here. [SVG]

  2. If the title element is null and the head element is null, then the attribute must do nothing. Stop the algorithm here.
  3. If the title element is null, then a new title element must be created and appended to the head element. Let element be that element. Otherwise, let element be the title element.
  4. The children of element (if any) must all be removed.
  5. A single Text node whose data is the new value being assigned must be appended to element.

The title IDL attribute defined above must replace the attribute of the same name on the Document interface defined by the SVG specification when the user agent supports both HTML and SVG. [SVG]


document . body [ = value ]

Returns the body element.

Can be set, to replace the body element.

If the new value is not a body or frameset element, this will throw a HierarchyRequestError exception.

The body element of a document is the first child of the html element that is either a body element or a frameset element. If there is no such element, it is null.

The body attribute, on getting, must return the body element of the document (either a body element, a frameset element, or null). On setting, the following algorithm must be run:

  1. If the new value is not a body or frameset element, then throw a HierarchyRequestError exception and abort these steps.
  2. Otherwise, if the new value is the same as the body element, do nothing. Abort these steps.
  3. Otherwise, if the body element is not null, then replace that element with the new value in the DOM, as if the root element's replaceChild() method had been called with the new value and the incumbent body element as its two arguments respectively, then abort these steps.
  4. Otherwise, the body element is null. Append the new value to the root element.

document . images

Returns an HTMLCollection of the img elements in the Document.

document . embeds
document . plugins

Return an HTMLCollection of the embed elements in the Document.

document . links

Returns an HTMLCollection of the a and area elements in the Document that have href attributes.

document . forms

Return an HTMLCollection of the form elements in the Document.

document . scripts

Return an HTMLCollection of the script elements in the Document.

The images attribute must return an HTMLCollection rooted at the Document node, whose filter matches only img elements.

The embeds attribute must return an HTMLCollection rooted at the Document node, whose filter matches only embed elements.

The plugins attribute must return the same object as that returned by the embeds attribute.

The links attribute must return an HTMLCollection rooted at the Document node, whose filter matches only a elements with href attributes and area elements with href attributes.

The forms attribute must return an HTMLCollection rooted at the Document node, whose filter matches only form elements.

The scripts attribute must return an HTMLCollection rooted at the Document node, whose filter matches only script elements.


collection = document . getElementsByName(name)

Returns a NodeList of elements in the Document that have a name attribute with the value name.

The getElementsByName(name) method takes a string name, and must return a live NodeList containing all the HTML elements in that document that have a name attribute whose value is equal to the name argument (in a case-sensitive manner), in tree order. When the method is invoked on a Document object again with the same argument, the user agent may return the same as the object returned by the earlier call. In other cases, a new NodeList object must be returned.


The Document interface supports named properties. The supported property names at any moment consist of the values of the name content attributes of all the applet, exposed embed, form, iframe, img, and exposed object elements in the Document that have name content attributes, and the values of the id content attributes of all the applet and exposed object elements in the Document that have id content attributes, and the values of the id content attributes of all the img elements in the Document that have both name content attributes and id content attributes.

To determine the value of a named property name when the Document object is indexed for property retrieval, the user agent must return the value obtained using the following steps:

  1. Let elements be the list of named elements with the name name in the Document.

    There will be at least one such element, by definition.

  2. If elements has only one element, and that element is an iframe element, then return the WindowProxy object of the nested browsing context represented by that iframe element, and abort these steps.

  3. Otherwise, if elements has only one element, return that element and abort these steps.

  4. Otherwise return an HTMLCollection rooted at the Document node, whose filter matches only named elements with the name name.

Named elements with the name name, for the purposes of the above algorithm, are those that are either:

An embed or object element is said to be exposed if it has no exposed object ancestor, and, for object elements, is additionally either not showing its fallback content or has no object or embed descendants.


The dir attribute on the Document interface is defined along with the dir content attribute.

3.1.5 Loading XML documents

partial interface XMLDocument {
  boolean load(DOMString url);
};

The load(url) method must run the following steps:

  1. Let document be the XMLDocument object on which the method was invoked.

  2. Resolve the method's first argument, relative to the entry script's base URL. If this is not successful, throw a SyntaxError exception and abort these steps. Otherwise, let url be the resulting absolute URL.

  3. If the origin of url is not the same as the origin of document, throw a SecurityError exception and abort these steps.

  4. Remove all child nodes of document, without firing any mutation events.

  5. Set the current document readiness of document to "loading".

  6. Run the remainder of these steps asynchronously, and return true from the method.

  7. Let result be a Document object.

  8. Let success be false.

  9. Fetch url from the origin of document, using the entry script's referrer source, with the synchronous flag set and the force same-origin flag set.

  10. If the fetch attempt was successful, and the resource's Content-Type metadata is an XML MIME type, then run these substeps:

    1. Create a new XML parser associated with the result document.

    2. Pass this parser the fetched document.

    3. If there is an XML well-formedness or XML namespace well-formedness error, then remove all child nodes from result. Otherwise let success be true.

  11. Queue a task to run the following steps.

    1. Set the current document readiness of document to "complete".

    2. Replace all the children of document by the children of result (even if it has no children), firing mutation events as if a DocumentFragment containing the new children had been inserted.

    3. Fire a simple event named load at document.

3.2 Elements

3.2.1 Semantics

Elements, attributes, and attribute values in HTML are defined (by this specification) to have certain meanings (semantics). For example, the ol element represents an ordered list, and the lang attribute represents the language of the content.

These definitions allow HTML processors, such as Web browsers or search engines, to present and use documents and applications in a wide variety of contexts that the author might not have considered.

As a simple example, consider a Web page written by an author who only considered desktop computer Web browsers. Because HTML conveys meaning, rather than presentation, the same page can also be used by a small browser on a mobile phone, without any change to the page. Instead of headings being in large letters as on the desktop, for example, the browser on the mobile phone might use the same size text for the whole the page, but with the headings in bold.

But it goes further than just differences in screen size: the same page could equally be used by a blind user using a browser based around speech synthesis, which instead of displaying the page on a screen, reads the page to the user, e.g. using headphones. Instead of large text for the headings, the speech browser might use a different volume or a slower voice.

That's not all, either. Since the browsers know which parts of the page are the headings, they can create a document outline that the user can use to quickly navigate around the document, using keys for "jump to next heading" or "jump to previous heading". Such features are especially common with speech browsers, where users would otherwise find quickly navigating a page quite difficult.

Even beyond browsers, software can make use of this information. Search engines can use the headings to more effectively index a page, or to provide quick links to subsections of the page from their results. Tools can use the headings to create a table of contents (that is in fact how this very specification's table of contents is generated).

This example has focused on headings, but the same principle applies to all of the semantics in HTML.

Authors must not use elements, attributes, or attribute values for purposes other than their appropriate intended semantic purpose, as doing so prevents software from correctly processing the page.

For example, the following document is non-conforming, despite being syntactically correct:

<!DOCTYPE HTML>
<html lang="en-GB">
 <head> <title> Demonstration </title> </head>
 <body>
  <table>
   <tr> <td> My favourite animal is the cat. </td> </tr>
   <tr>
    <td>
     —<a href="http://example.org/~ernest/"><cite>Ernest</cite></a>,
     in an essay from 1992
    </td>
   </tr>
  </table>
 </body>
</html>

...because the data placed in the cells is clearly not tabular data (and the cite element mis-used). This would make software that relies on these semantics fail: for example, a speech browser that allowed a blind user to navigate tables in the document would report the quote above as a table, confusing the user; similarly, a tool that extracted titles of works from pages would extract "Ernest" as the title of a work, even though it's actually a person's name, not a title.

A corrected version of this document might be:

<!DOCTYPE HTML>
<html lang="en-GB">
 <head> <title> Demonstration </title> </head>
 <body>
  <blockquote>
   <p> My favourite animal is the cat. </p>
  </blockquote>
  <p>
   —<a href="http://example.org/~ernest/">Ernest</a>,
   in an essay from 1992
  </p>
 </body>
</html>

This next document fragment, intended to represent the heading of a corporate site, is similarly non-conforming because the second line is not intended to be a heading of a subsection, but merely a subheading or subtitle (a subordinate heading for the same section).

<body>
 <h1>ABC Company</h1>
 <h2>Leading the way in widget design since 1432</h2>
 ...

The hgroup element is intended for these kinds of situations:

<body>
 <hgroup>
  <h1>ABC Company</h1>
  <h2>Leading the way in widget design since 1432</h2>
 </hgroup>
 ...

Authors must not use elements, attributes, or attribute values that are not permitted by this specification or other applicable specifications, as doing so makes it significantly harder for the language to be extended in the future.

In the next example, there is a non-conforming attribute value ("carpet") and a non-conforming attribute ("texture"), which is not permitted by this specification:

<label>Carpet: <input type="carpet" name="c" texture="deep pile"></label>

Here would be an alternative and correct way to mark this up:

<label>Carpet: <input type="text" class="carpet" name="c" data-texture="deep pile"></label>

Through scripting and using other mechanisms, the values of attributes, text, and indeed the entire structure of the document may change dynamically while a user agent is processing it. The semantics of a document at an instant in time are those represented by the state of the document at that instant in time, and the semantics of a document can therefore change over time. User agents must update their presentation of the document as this occurs.

HTML has a progress element that describes a progress bar. If its "value" attribute is dynamically updated by a script, the UA would update the rendering to show the progress changing.

3.2.2 Elements in the DOM

The nodes representing HTML elements in the DOM must implement, and expose to scripts, the interfaces listed for them in the relevant sections of this specification. This includes HTML elements in XML documents, even when those documents are in another context (e.g. inside an XSLT transform).

Elements in the DOM represent things; that is, they have intrinsic meaning, also known as semantics.

For example, an ol element represents an ordered list.

The basic interface, from which all the HTML elements' interfaces inherit, and which must be used by elements that have no additional requirements, is the HTMLElement interface.

interface HTMLElement : Element {
  // metadata attributes
           attribute DOMString title;
           attribute DOMString lang;
           attribute boolean translate;
           attribute DOMString dir;
  readonly attribute DOMStringMap dataset;


  // user interaction
           attribute boolean hidden;
  void click();
           attribute long tabIndex;
  void focus();
  void blur();
           attribute DOMString accessKey;
  readonly attribute DOMString accessKeyLabel;
           attribute boolean draggable;
  [PutForwards=value] readonly attribute DOMSettableTokenList dropzone;
           attribute DOMString contentEditable;
  readonly attribute boolean isContentEditable;
           attribute HTMLMenuElement? contextMenu;
           attribute boolean spellcheck;

  // command API
  readonly attribute DOMString? commandType;
  readonly attribute DOMString? commandLabel;
  readonly attribute DOMString? commandIcon;
  readonly attribute boolean? commandHidden;
  readonly attribute boolean? commandDisabled;
  readonly attribute boolean? commandChecked;

  // styling
  readonly attribute CSSStyleDeclaration style;

  // event handler IDL attributes
           attribute EventHandler onabort;
           attribute EventHandler onblur;
           attribute EventHandler oncancel;
           attribute EventHandler oncanplay;
           attribute EventHandler oncanplaythrough;
           attribute EventHandler onchange;
           attribute EventHandler onclick;
           attribute EventHandler onclose;
           attribute EventHandler oncontextmenu;
           attribute EventHandler oncuechange;
           attribute EventHandler ondblclick;
           attribute EventHandler ondrag;
           attribute EventHandler ondragend;
           attribute EventHandler ondragenter;
           attribute EventHandler ondragleave;
           attribute EventHandler ondragover;
           attribute EventHandler ondragstart;
           attribute EventHandler ondrop;
           attribute EventHandler ondurationchange;
           attribute EventHandler onemptied;
           attribute EventHandler onended;
           attribute OnErrorEventHandler onerror;
           attribute EventHandler onfocus;
           attribute EventHandler oninput;
           attribute EventHandler oninvalid;
           attribute EventHandler onkeydown;
           attribute EventHandler onkeypress;
           attribute EventHandler onkeyup;
           attribute EventHandler onload;
           attribute EventHandler onloadeddata;
           attribute EventHandler onloadedmetadata;
           attribute EventHandler onloadstart;
           attribute EventHandler onmousedown;
           attribute EventHandler onmousemove;
           attribute EventHandler onmouseout;
           attribute EventHandler onmouseover;
           attribute EventHandler onmouseup;
           attribute EventHandler onmousewheel;
           attribute EventHandler onpause;
           attribute EventHandler onplay;
           attribute EventHandler onplaying;
           attribute EventHandler onprogress;
           attribute EventHandler onratechange;
           attribute EventHandler onreset;
           attribute EventHandler onscroll;
           attribute EventHandler onseeked;
           attribute EventHandler onseeking;
           attribute EventHandler onselect;
           attribute EventHandler onshow;
           attribute EventHandler onstalled;
           attribute EventHandler onsubmit;
           attribute EventHandler onsuspend;
           attribute EventHandler ontimeupdate;
           attribute EventHandler onvolumechange;
           attribute EventHandler onwaiting;
};

interface HTMLUnknownElement : HTMLElement { };

The HTMLElement interface holds methods and attributes related to a number of disparate features, and the members of this interface are therefore described in various different sections of this specification.

The HTMLUnknownElement interface must be used for HTML elements that are not defined by this specification (or other applicable specifications).

3.2.3 Global attributes

The following attributes are common to and may be specified on all HTML elements (even those not defined in this specification):

These attributes are only defined by this specification as attributes for HTML elements. When this specification refers to elements having these attributes, elements from namespaces that are not defined as having these attributes must not be considered as being elements with these attributes.

For example, in the following XML fragment, the "bogus" element does not have a dir attribute as defined in this specification, despite having an attribute with the literal name "dir". Thus, the directionality of the inner-most span element is 'rtl', inherited from the div element indirectly through the "bogus" element.

<div xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/html" dir="rtl">
 <bogus xmlns="http://example.net/ns" dir="ltr">
  <span xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/html">
  </span>
 </bogus>
</div>

The following event handler content attributes may be specified on any HTML element:

The attributes marked with an asterisk have a different meaning when specified on body elements as those elements expose event handlers of the Window object with the same names.

While these attributes apply to all elements, they are not useful on all elements. For example, only media elements will ever receive a volumechange event fired by the user agent.


Custom data attributes (e.g. data-foldername or data-msgid) can be specified on any HTML element, to store custom data specific to the page.


In HTML documents, elements in the HTML namespace may have an xmlns attribute specified, if, and only if, it has the exact value "http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml". This does not apply to XML documents.

In HTML, the xmlns attribute has absolutely no effect. It is basically a talisman. It is allowed merely to make migration to and from XHTML mildly easier. When parsed by an HTML parser, the attribute ends up in no namespace, not the "http://www.w3.org/2000/xmlns/" namespace like namespace declaration attributes in XML do.

In XML, an xmlns attribute is part of the namespace declaration mechanism, and an element cannot actually have an xmlns attribute in no namespace specified.


The XML specification also allows the use of the xml:space attribute in the XML namespace on any element in an XML document. This attribute has no effect on HTML elements, as the default behavior in HTML is to preserve whitespace. [XML]

There is no way to serialize the xml:space attribute on HTML elements in the text/html syntax.


To enable assistive technology products to expose a more fine-grained interface than is otherwise possible with HTML elements and attributes, a set of annotations for assistive technology products can be specified (the ARIA role and aria-* attributes).

3.2.3.1 The id attribute

The id attribute specifies its element's unique identifier (ID). [DOMCORE]

The value must be unique amongst all the IDs in the element's home subtree and must contain at least one character. The value must not contain any space characters.

An element's unique identifier can be used for a variety of purposes, most notably as a way to link to specific parts of a document using fragment identifiers, as a way to target an element when scripting, and as a way to style a specific element from CSS.

Identifiers are opaque strings. Particular meanings should not be derived from the value of the id attribute.

3.2.3.2 The title attribute

The title attribute represents advisory information for the element, such as would be appropriate for a tooltip. On a link, this could be the title or a description of the target resource; on an image, it could be the image credit or a description of the image; on a paragraph, it could be a footnote or commentary on the text; on a citation, it could be further information about the source; on interactive content, it could be a label for, or instructions for, use of the element; and so forth. The value is text.

Relying on the title attribute is currently discouraged as many user agents do not expose the attribute in an accessible manner as required by this specification (e.g. requiring a pointing device such as a mouse to cause a tooltip to apear, which excludes keyboard-only users and touch-only users, such as anyone with a modern phone or tablet).

If this attribute is omitted from an element, then it implies that the title attribute of the nearest ancestor HTML element with a title attribute set is also relevant to this element. Setting the attribute overrides this, explicitly stating that the advisory information of any ancestors is not relevant to this element. Setting the attribute to the empty string indicates that the element has no advisory information.

If the title attribute's value contains "LF" (U+000A) characters, the content is split into multiple lines. Each "LF" (U+000A) character represents a line break.

Caution is advised with respect to the use of newlines in title attributes.

For instance, the following snippet actually defines an abbreviation's expansion with a line break in it:

<p>My logs show that there was some interest in <abbr title="Hypertext
Transport Protocol">HTTP</abbr> today.</p>

Some elements, such as link, abbr, and input, define additional semantics for the title attribute beyond the semantics described above.

The advisory information of an element is the value that the following algorithm returns, with the algorithm being aborted once a value is returned. When the algorithm returns the empty string, then there is no advisory information.

  1. If the element is a link, style, dfn, abbr, or title element, then: if the element has a title attribute, return the value of that attribute, otherwise, return the empty string.

  2. Otherwise, if the element has a title attribute, then return its value.

  3. Otherwise, if the element has a parent element, then return the parent element's advisory information.

  4. Otherwise, return the empty string.

User agents should inform the user when elements have advisory information, otherwise the information would not be discoverable.


The title IDL attribute must reflect the title content attribute.

3.2.3.3 The lang and xml:lang attributes

The lang attribute (in no namespace) specifies the primary language for the element's contents and for any of the element's attributes that contain text. Its value must be a valid BCP 47 language tag, or the empty string. Setting the attribute to the empty string indicates that the primary language is unknown. [BCP47]

The lang attribute in the XML namespace is defined in XML. [XML]

If these attributes are omitted from an element, then the language of this element is the same as the language of its parent element, if any.

The lang attribute in no namespace may be used on any HTML element.

The lang attribute in the XML namespace may be used on HTML elements in XML documents, as well as elements in other namespaces if the relevant specifications allow it (in particular, MathML and SVG allow lang attributes in the XML namespace to be specified on their elements). If both the lang attribute in no namespace and the lang attribute in the XML namespace are specified on the same element, they must have exactly the same value when compared in an ASCII case-insensitive manner.

Authors must not use the lang attribute in the XML namespace on HTML elements in HTML documents. To ease migration to and from XHTML, authors may specify an attribute in no namespace with no prefix and with the literal localname "xml:lang" on HTML elements in HTML documents, but such attributes must only be specified if a lang attribute in no namespace is also specified, and both attributes must have the same value when compared in an ASCII case-insensitive manner.

The attribute in no namespace with no prefix and with the literal localname "xml:lang" has no effect on language processing.


To determine the language of a node, user agents must look at the nearest ancestor element (including the element itself if the node is an element) that has a lang attribute in the XML namespace set or is an HTML element and has a lang in no namespace attribute set. That attribute specifies the language of the node (regardless of its value).

If both the lang attribute in no namespace and the lang attribute in the XML namespace are set on an element, user agents must use the lang attribute in the XML namespace, and the lang attribute in no namespace must be ignored for the purposes of determining the element's language.

If neither the node nor any of the node's ancestors, including the root element, have either attribute set, but there is a pragma-set default language set, then that is the language of the node. If there is no pragma-set default language set, then language information from a higher-level protocol (such as HTTP), if any, must be used as the final fallback language instead. In the absence of any such language information, and in cases where the higher-level protocol reports multiple languages, the language of the node is unknown, and the corresponding language tag is the empty string.

If the resulting value is not a recognized language tag, then it must be treated as an unknown language having the given language tag, distinct from all other languages. For the purposes of round-tripping or communicating with other services that expect language tags, user agents should pass unknown language tags through unmodified.

Thus, for instance, an element with lang="xyzzy" would be matched by the selector :lang(xyzzy) (e.g. in CSS), but it would not be matched by :lang(abcde), even though both are equally invalid. Similarly, if a Web browser and screen reader working in unison communicated about the language of the element, the browser would tell the screen reader that the language was "xyzzy", even if it knew it was invalid, just in case the screen reader actually supported a language with that tag after all.

If the resulting value is the empty string, then it must be interpreted as meaning that the language of the node is explicitly unknown.


User agents may use the element's language to determine proper processing or rendering (e.g. in the selection of appropriate fonts or pronunciations, for dictionary selection, or for the user interfaces of form controls such as date pickers).


The lang IDL attribute must reflect the lang content attribute in no namespace.

3.2.3.4 The translate attribute

The translate attribute is an enumerated attribute that is used to specify whether an element's attribute values and the values of its Text node children are to be translated when the page is localized, or whether to leave them unchanged.

The attribute's keywords are the empty string, yes, and no. The empty string and the yes keyword map to the yes state. The no keyword maps to the no state. In addition, there is a third state, the inherit state, which is the missing value default (and the invalid value default).

Each element has a translation mode, which is in either the translate-enabled state or the no-translate state. If the element's translate attribute is in the yes state, then the element's translation mode is in the translate-enabled state. Otherwise, if the element's translate attribute is in the no state, then the element's translation mode is in the no-translate state. Otherwise, the element's translate attribute is in the inherit state; in that case, the element's translation mode is in the same state as its parent element, if any, or in the translate-enabled state, if the element is a root element.

When an element is in the translate-enabled state, the element's attribute values and the values of its Text node children are to be translated when the page is localized.

When an element is in the no-translate state, the element's attribute values and the values of its Text node children are to be left as-is when the page is localized, e.g. because the element contains a person's name or a the name of a computer program.


The translate IDL attribute must, on getting, return true if the element's translation mode is translate-enabled, and false otherwise. On setting, it must set the content attribute's value to "yes" if the new value is true, and set the content attribute's value to "no" otherwise.

In this example, everything in the document is to be translated when the page is localised, except the sample keyboard input and sample program output:

<!DOCTYPE HTML>
<html> <!-- default on the root element is translate=yes -->
 <head>
  <title>The Bee Game</title> <!-- implied translate=yes inherited from ancestors -->
 </head>
 <body>
  <p>The Bee Game is a text adventure game in English.</p>
  <p>When the game launches, the first thing you should do is type
  <kbd translate=no>eat honey</kbd>. The game will respond with:</p>
  <pre><samp translate=no>Yum yum! That was some good honey!</samp></pre>
 </body>
</html>
3.2.3.5 The xml:base attribute (XML only)

The xml:base attribute is defined in XML Base. [XMLBASE]

The xml:base attribute may be used on HTML elements of XML documents. Authors must not use the xml:base attribute on HTML elements in HTML documents.

3.2.3.6 The dir attribute

The dir attribute specifies the element's text directionality. The attribute is an enumerated attribute with the following keywords and states:

The ltr keyword, which maps to the ltr state

Indicates that the contents of the element are explicitly directionally embedded left-to-right text.

The rtl keyword, which maps to the rtl state

Indicates that the contents of the element are explicitly directionally embedded right-to-left text.

The auto keyword, which maps to the auto state

Indicates that the contents of the element are explicitly embedded text, but that the direction is to be determined programmatically using the contents of the element (as described below).

The heuristic used by this state is very crude (it just looks at the first character with a strong directionality, in a manner analogous to the Paragraph Level determination in the bidirectional algorithm). Authors are urged to only use this value as a last resort when the direction of the text is truly unknown and no better server-side heuristic can be applied. [BIDI]

For textarea and pre elements, the heuristic is applied on a per-paragraph level.

The attribute has no invalid value default and no missing value default.

The directionality of an element is either 'ltr' or 'rtl', and is determined as per the first appropriate set of steps from the following list:

If the element's dir attribute is in the ltr state

The directionality of the element is 'ltr'.

If the element's dir attribute is in the rtl state

The directionality of the element is 'rtl'.

If the element is an input element whose type attribute is in the Text, Search, Telephone, URL, or E-mail state, and the dir attribute is in the auto state
If the element is a textarea element and the dir attribute is in the auto state

If the element's value contains a character of bidirectional character type AL or R, and there is no character of bidirectional character type L anywhere before it in the element's value, then the directionality of the element is 'rtl'. Otherwise, the directionality of the element is 'ltr'. [BIDI]

If the element's dir attribute is in the auto state
If the element is a bdi element and the dir attribute is not in a defined state (i.e. it is not present or has an invalid value)

Find the first character in tree order that matches the following criteria:

If such a character is found and it is of bidirectional character type AL or R, the directionality of the element is 'rtl'.

Otherwise, the directionality of the element is 'ltr'.

If the element is a root element and the dir attribute is not in a defined state (i.e. it is not present or has an invalid value)

The directionality of the element is 'ltr'.

If the element has a parent element and the dir attribute is not in a defined state (i.e. it is not present or has an invalid value)

The directionality of the element is the same as the element's parent element's directionality.

The effect of this attribute is primarily on the presentation layer. For example, the rendering section in this specification defines a mapping from this attribute to the CSS 'direction' and 'unicode-bidi' properties, and CSS defines rendering in terms of those properties.


document . dir [ = value ]

Returns the html element's dir attribute's value, if any.

Can be set, to either "ltr", "rtl", or "auto" to replace the html element's dir attribute's value.

If there is no html element, returns the empty string and ignores new values.

The dir IDL attribute on an element must reflect the dir content attribute of that element, limited to only known values.

The dir IDL attribute on Document objects must reflect the dir content attribute of the html element, if any, limited to only known values. If there is no such element, then the attribute must return the empty string and do nothing on setting.

Authors are strongly encouraged to use the dir attribute to indicate text direction rather than using CSS, since that way their documents will continue to render correctly even in the absence of CSS (e.g. as interpreted by search engines).

This markup fragment is of an IM conversation.

<p dir=auto class="u1"><b><bdi>Student</bdi>:</b> How do you write "What's your name?" in Arabic?</p>
<p dir=auto class="u2"><b><bdi>Teacher</bdi>:</b> ما اسمك؟</p>
<p dir=auto class="u1"><b><bdi>Student</bdi>:</b> Thanks.</p>
<p dir=auto class="u2"><b><bdi>Teacher</bdi>:</b> That's written "شكرًا".</p>
<p dir=auto class="u2"><b><bdi>Teacher</bdi>:</b> Do you know how to write "Please"?</p>
<p dir=auto class="u1"><b><bdi>Student</bdi>:</b> "من فضلك", right?</p>

Given a suitable style sheet and the default alignment styles for the p element, namely to align the text to the start edge of the paragraph, the resulting rendering could be as follows:

Each paragraph rendered as a separate block, with the paragraphs left-aligned except the second paragraph and the last one, which would  be right aligned, with the usernames ('Student' and 'Teacher' in this example) flush right, with a colon to their left, and the text first to the left of that.

As noted earlier, the auto value is not a panacea. The final paragraph in this example is misinterpreted as being right-to-left text, since it begins with an Arabic character, which causes the "right?" to be to the left of the Arabic text.

3.2.3.7 The class attribute

Every HTML element may have a class attribute specified.

The attribute, if specified, must have a value that is a set of space-separated tokens representing the various classes that the element belongs to.

The classes that an HTML element has assigned to it consists of all the classes returned when the value of the class attribute is split on spaces. (Duplicates are ignored.)

Assigning classes to an element affects class matching in selectors in CSS, the getElementsByClassName() method in the DOM, and other such features.

There are no additional restrictions on the tokens authors can use in the class attribute, but authors are encouraged to use values that describe the nature of the content, rather than values that describe the desired presentation of the content.


The className and classList IDL attributes, defined in the DOM Core specification, reflect the class content attribute. [DOMCORE]

3.2.3.8 The style attribute

All HTML elements may have the style content attribute set. This is a CSS styling attribute as defined by the CSS Styling Attribute Syntax specification. [CSSATTR]

In user agents that support CSS, the attribute's value must be parsed when the attribute is added or has its value changed, according to the rules given for CSS styling attributes. [CSSATTR]

Documents that use style attributes on any of their elements must still be comprehensible and usable if those attributes were removed.

In particular, using the style attribute to hide and show content, or to convey meaning that is otherwise not included in the document, is non-conforming. (To hide and show content, use the hidden attribute.)


element . style

Returns a CSSStyleDeclaration object for the element's style attribute.

The style IDL attribute must return a CSSStyleDeclaration whose value represents the declarations specified in the attribute. (If the attribute is absent, the object represents an empty declaration.) Mutating the CSSStyleDeclaration object must create a style attribute on the element (if there isn't one already) and then change its value to be a value representing the serialized form of the CSSStyleDeclaration object. The same object must be returned each time. [CSSOM]

In the following example, the words that refer to colors are marked up using the span element and the style attribute to make those words show up in the relevant colors in visual media.

<p>My sweat suit is <span style="color: green; background:
transparent">green</span> and my eyes are <span style="color: blue;
background: transparent">blue</span>.</p>
3.2.3.9 Embedding custom non-visible data with the data-* attributes

A custom data attribute is an attribute in no namespace whose name starts with the string "data-", has at least one character after the hyphen, is XML-compatible, and contains no characters in the range U+0041 to U+005A (LATIN CAPITAL LETTER A to LATIN CAPITAL LETTER Z).

All attribute names on HTML elements in HTML documents get ASCII-lowercased automatically, so the restriction on ASCII uppercase letters doesn't affect such documents.

Custom data attributes are intended to store custom data private to the page or application, for which there are no more appropriate attributes or elements.

These attributes are not intended for use by software that is independent of the site that uses the attributes.

For instance, a site about music could annotate list items representing tracks in an album with custom data attributes containing the length of each track. This information could then be used by the site itself to allow the user to sort the list by track length, or to filter the list for tracks of certain lengths.

<ol>
 <li data-length="2m11s">Beyond The Sea</li>
 ...
</ol>

It would be inappropriate, however, for the user to use generic software not associated with that music site to search for tracks of a certain length by looking at this data.

This is because these attributes are intended for use by the site's own scripts, and are not a generic extension mechanism for publicly-usable metadata.

Every HTML element may have any number of custom data attributes specified, with any value.


element . dataset

Returns a DOMStringMap object for the element's data-* attributes.

Hyphenated names become camel-cased. For example, data-foo-bar="" becomes element.dataset.fooBar.

The dataset IDL attribute provides convenient accessors for all the data-* attributes on an element. On getting, the dataset IDL attribute must return a DOMStringMap object, associated with the following algorithms, which expose these attributes on their element:

The algorithm for getting the list of name-value pairs
  1. Let list be an empty list of name-value pairs.
  2. For each content attribute on the element whose first five characters are the string "data-" and whose remaining characters (if any) do not include any characters in the range U+0041 to U+005A (LATIN CAPITAL LETTER A to LATIN CAPITAL LETTER Z), add a name-value pair to list whose name is the attribute's name with the first five characters removed and whose value is the attribute's value.
  3. For each name list, for each "-" (U+002D) character in the name that is followed by a character in the range U+0061 to U+007A (lowercase ASCII letters), remove the "-" (U+002D) character and replace the character that followed it by the same character converted to ASCII uppercase.
  4. Return list.
The algorithm for setting names to certain values
  1. Let name be the name passed to the algorithm.
  2. Let value be the value passed to the algorithm.
  3. If name contains a "-" (U+002D) character followed by a character in the range U+0061 to U+007A (lowercase ASCII letters), throw a SyntaxError exception and abort these steps.
  4. For each character in the range U+0041 to U+005A (uppercase ASCII letters) in name, insert a "-" (U+002D) character before the character and replace the character with the same character converted to ASCII lowercase.
  5. Insert the string data- at the front of name.
  6. Set the value of the attribute with the name name, to the value value, replacing any previous value if the attribute already existed. If setAttribute() would have thrown an exception when setting an attribute with the name name, then this must throw the same exception.
The algorithm for deleting names
  1. Let name be the name passed to the algorithm.
  2. For each character in the range U+0041 to U+005A (uppercase ASCII letters) in name, insert a "-" (U+002D) character before the character and replace the character with the same character converted to ASCII lowercase.
  3. Insert the string data- at the front of name.
  4. Remove the attribute with the name name, if such an attribute exists. Do nothing otherwise.

The same object must be returned each time.

If a Web page wanted an element to represent a space ship, e.g. as part of a game, it would have to use the class attribute along with data-* attributes:

<div class="spaceship" data-ship-id="92432"
     data-weapons="laser 2" data-shields="50%"
     data-x="30" data-y="10" data-z="90">
 <button class="fire"
         onclick="spaceships[this.parentNode.dataset.shipId].fire()">
  Fire
 </button>
</div>

Notice how the hyphenated attribute name becomes camel-cased in the API.

Authors should carefully design such extensions so that when the attributes are ignored and any associated CSS dropped, the page is still usable.

User agents must not derive any implementation behavior from these attributes or values. Specifications intended for user agents must not define these attributes to have any meaningful values.

JavaScript libraries may use the custom data attributes, as they are considered to be part of the page on which they are used. Authors of libraries that are reused by many authors are encouraged to include their name in the attribute names, to reduce the risk of clashes. Where it makes sense, library authors are also encouraged to make the exact name used in the attribute names customizable, so that libraries whose authors unknowingly picked the same name can be used on the same page, and so that multiple versions of a particular library can be used on the same page even when those versions are not mutually compatible.

For example, a library called "DoQuery" could use attribute names like data-doquery-range, and a library called "jJo" could use attributes names like data-jjo-range. The jJo library could also provide an API to set which prefix to use (e.g. J.setDataPrefix('j2'), making the attributes have names like data-j2-range).

3.2.4 Element definitions

Each element in this specification has a definition that includes the following information:

Categories

A list of categories to which the element belongs. These are used when defining the content models for each element.

Contexts in which this element can be used

A non-normative description of where the element can be used. This information is redundant with the content models of elements that allow this one as a child, and is provided only as a convenience.

For simplicity, only the most specific expectations are listed. For example, an element that is both flow content and phrasing content can be used anywhere that either flow content or phrasing content is expected, but since anywhere that flow content is expected, phrasing content is also expected (since all phrasing content is flow content), only "where phrasing content is expected" will be listed.

Content model

A normative description of what content must be included as children and descendants of the element.

Content attributes

A normative list of attributes that may be specified on the element (except where otherwise disallowed).

DOM interface

A normative definition of a DOM interface that such elements must implement.

This is then followed by a description of what the element represents, along with any additional normative conformance criteria that may apply to authors and implementations. Examples are sometimes also included.

3.2.4.1 Attributes

Except where otherwise specified, attributes on HTML elements may have any string value, including the empty string. Except where explicitly stated, there is no restriction on what text can be specified in such attributes.

3.2.5 Content models

Each element defined in this specification has a content model: a description of the element's expected contents. An HTML element must have contents that match the requirements described in the element's content model.

The space characters are always allowed between elements. User agents represent these characters between elements in the source markup as Text nodes in the DOM. Empty Text nodes and Text nodes consisting of just sequences of those characters are considered inter-element whitespace.

Inter-element whitespace, comment nodes, and processing instruction nodes must be ignored when establishing whether an element's contents match the element's content model or not, and must be ignored when following algorithms that define document and element semantics.

Thus, an element A is said to be preceded or followed by a second element B if A and B have the same parent node and there are no other element nodes or Text nodes (other than inter-element whitespace) between them. Similarly, a node is the only child of an element if that element contains no other nodes other than inter-element whitespace, comment nodes, and processing instruction nodes.

Authors must not use HTML elements anywhere except where they are explicitly allowed, as defined for each element, or as explicitly required by other specifications. For XML compound documents, these contexts could be inside elements from other namespaces, if those elements are defined as providing the relevant contexts.

For example, the Atom specification defines a content element. When its type attribute has the value xhtml, the Atom specification requires that it contain a single HTML div element. Thus, a div element is allowed in that context, even though this is not explicitly normatively stated by this specification. [ATOM]

In addition, HTML elements may be orphan nodes (i.e. without a parent node).

For example, creating a td element and storing it in a global variable in a script is conforming, even though td elements are otherwise only supposed to be used inside tr elements.

var data = {
  name: "Banana",
  cell: document.createElement('td'),
};
3.2.5.1 Kinds of content

Each element in HTML falls into zero or more categories that group elements with similar characteristics together. The following broad categories are used in this specification:

Some elements also fall into other categories, which are defined in other parts of this specification.

These categories are related as follows:

Sectioning content, heading content, phrasing content, embedded content, and interactive content are all types of flow content. Metadata is sometimes flow content. Metadata and interactive content are sometimes phrasing content. Embedded content is also a type of phrasing content, and sometimes is interactive content.

Other categories are also used for specific purposes, e.g. form controls are specified using a number of categories to define common requirements. Some elements have unique requirements and do not fit into any particular category.

3.2.5.1.1 Metadata content

Metadata content is content that sets up the presentation or behavior of the rest of the content, or that sets up the relationship of the document with other documents, or that conveys other "out of band" information.

Elements from other namespaces whose semantics are primarily metadata-related (e.g. RDF) are also metadata content.

Thus, in the XML serialization, one can use RDF, like this:

<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"
      xmlns:r="http://www.w3.org/1999/02/22-rdf-syntax-ns#">
 <head>
  <title>Hedral's Home Page</title>
  <r:RDF>
   <Person xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2000/10/swap/pim/contact#"
           r:about="http://hedral.example.com/#">
    <fullName>Cat Hedral</fullName>
    <mailbox r:resource="mailto:hedral@damowmow.com"/>
    <personalTitle>Sir</personalTitle>
   </Person>
  </r:RDF>
 </head>
 <body>
  <h1>My home page</h1>
  <p>I like playing with string, I guess. Sister says squirrels are fun
  too so sometimes I follow her to play with them.</p>
 </body>
</html>

This isn't possible in the HTML serialization, however.

3.2.5.1.2 Flow content

Most elements that are used in the body of documents and applications are categorized as flow content.

3.2.5.1.3 Sectioning content

Sectioning content is content that defines the scope of headings and footers.

Each sectioning content element potentially has a heading and an outline. See the section on headings and sections for further details.

There are also certain elements that are sectioning roots. These are distinct from sectioning content, but they can also have an outline.

3.2.5.1.4 Heading content

Heading content defines the header of a section (whether explicitly marked up using sectioning content elements, or implied by the heading content itself).

3.2.5.1.5 Phrasing content

Phrasing content is the text of the document, as well as elements that mark up that text at the intra-paragraph level. Runs of phrasing content form paragraphs.

As a general rule, elements whose content model allows any phrasing content should have either at least one descendant Text node that is not inter-element whitespace, or at least one descendant element node that is embedded content. For the purposes of this requirement, nodes that are descendants of del elements must not be counted as contributing to the ancestors of the del element.

Most elements that are categorized as phrasing content can only contain elements that are themselves categorized as phrasing content, not any flow content.

Text, in the context of content models, means Text nodes. Text is sometimes used as a content model on its own, but is also phrasing content, and can be inter-element whitespace (if the Text nodes are empty or contain just space characters).

Text nodes and attribute values must consist of Unicode characters, must not contain U+0000 characters, must not contain permanently undefined Unicode characters (noncharacters), and must not contain control characters other than space characters. This specification includes extra constraints on the exact value of Text nodes and attribute values depending on their precise context.

3.2.5.1.6 Embedded content

Embedded content is content that imports another resource into the document, or content from another vocabulary that is inserted into the document.

Elements that are from namespaces other than the HTML namespace and that convey content but not metadata, are embedded content for the purposes of the content models defined in this specification. (For example, MathML, or SVG.)

Some embedded content elements can have fallback content: content that is to be used when the external resource cannot be used (e.g. because it is of an unsupported format). The element definitions state what the fallback is, if any.

3.2.5.1.7 Interactive content

Interactive content is content that is specifically intended for user interaction.

Certain elements in HTML have an activation behavior, which means that the user can activate them. This triggers a sequence of events dependent on the activation mechanism, and normally culminating in a click event, as described below.

The user agent should allow the user to manually trigger elements that have an activation behavior, for instance using keyboard or voice input, or through mouse clicks. When the user triggers an element with a defined activation behavior in a manner other than clicking it, the default action of the interaction event must be to run synthetic click activation steps on the element.

Each element has a click in progress flag, initially set to false.

When a user agent is to run synthetic click activation steps on an element, the user agent must run the following steps:

  1. If the element's click in progress flag is set to true, then abort these steps.

  2. Set the click in progress flag on the element to true.

  3. Run pre-click activation steps on the element.

  4. Fire a click event at the element. If the run synthetic click activation steps algorithm was invoked because the click() method was invoked, then the isTrusted attribute must be initialized to false.

  5. If this click event is not canceled, run post-click activation steps on the element.

    If the event is canceled, the user agent must run canceled activation steps on the element instead.

  6. Set the click in progress flag on the element to false.

When a pointing device is clicked, the user agent must run these steps:

  1. If the element's click in progress flag is set to true, then abort these steps.

  2. Set the click in progress flag on the element to true.

  3. Let e be the nearest activatable element of the element designated by the user (defined below), if any.

  4. If there is an element e, run pre-click activation steps on it.

  5. Dispatch the required click event.

    If there is an element e and the click event is not canceled, run post-click activation steps on element e.

    If there is an element e and the event is canceled, run canceled activation steps on element e.

  6. Set the click in progress flag on the element to false.

The above doesn't happen for arbitrary synthetic events dispatched by author script. However, the click() method can be used to make it happen programmatically.

Click-focusing behavior (e.g. the focusing of a text field when user clicks in one) typically happens before the click, when the mouse button is first depressed, and is therefore not discussed here.

Given an element target, the nearest activatable element is the element returned by the following algorithm:

  1. If target has a defined activation behavior, then return target and abort these steps.

  2. If target has a parent element, then set target to that parent element and return to the first step.

  3. Otherwise, there is no nearest activatable element.

When a user agent is to run pre-click activation steps on an element, it must run the pre-click activation steps defined for that element, if any.

When a user agent is to run canceled activation steps on an element, it must run the canceled activation steps defined for that element, if any.

When a user agent is to run post-click activation steps on an element, it must run the activation behavior defined for that element, if any. Activation behaviors can refer to the click event that was fired by the steps above leading up to this point.

3.2.5.1.8 Palpable content

As a general rule, elements whose content model allows any flow content or phrasing content should have at least one child node that is palpable content and that does not have the hidden attribute specified.

This requirement is not a hard requirement, however, as there are many cases where an element can be empty legitimately, for example when it is used as a placeholder which will later be filled in by a script, or when the element is part of a template and would on most pages be filled in but on some pages is not relevant.

Conformance checkers are encouraged to provide a mechanism for authors to find elements that fail to fulfill this requirement, as an authoring aid.

The following elements are palpable content:

3.2.5.2 Transparent content models

Some elements are described as transparent; they have "transparent" in the description of their content model. The content model of a transparent element is derived from the content model of its parent element: the elements required in the part of the content model that is "transparent" are the same elements as required in the part of the content model of the parent of the transparent element in which the transparent element finds itself.

For instance, an ins element inside a ruby element cannot contain an rt element, because the part of the ruby element's content model that allows ins elements is the part that allows phrasing content, and the rt element is not phrasing content.

In some cases, where transparent elements are nested in each other, the process has to be applied iteratively.

Consider the following markup fragment:

<p><ins><map><a href="/">Apples</a></map></ins></p>

To check whether "Apples" is allowed inside the a element, the content models are examined. The a element's content model is transparent, as is the map element's, as is the ins element's. The ins element is found in the p element, whose content model is phrasing content. Thus, "Apples" is allowed, as text is phrasing content.

When a transparent element has no parent, then the part of its content model that is "transparent" must instead be treated as accepting any flow content.

3.2.5.3 Paragraphs

The term paragraph as defined in this section is used for more than just the definition of the p element. The paragraph concept defined here is used to describe how to interpret documents. The p element is merely one of several ways of marking up a paragraph.

A paragraph is typically a run of phrasing content that forms a block of text with one or more sentences that discuss a particular topic, as in typography, but can also be used for more general thematic grouping. For instance, an address is also a paragraph, as is a part of a form, a byline, or a stanza in a poem.

In the following example, there are two paragraphs in a section. There is also a heading, which contains phrasing content that is not a paragraph. Note how the comments and inter-element whitespace do not form paragraphs.

<section>
  <h1>Example of paragraphs</h1>
  This is the <em>first</em> paragraph in this example.
  <p>This is the second.</p>
  <!-- This is not a paragraph. -->
</section>

Paragraphs in flow content are defined relative to what the document looks like without the a, ins, del, and map elements complicating matters, since those elements, with their hybrid content models, can straddle paragraph boundaries, as shown in the first two examples below.

Generally, having elements straddle paragraph boundaries is best avoided. Maintaining such markup can be difficult.

The following example takes the markup from the earlier example and puts ins and del elements around some of the markup to show that the text was changed (though in this case, the changes admittedly don't make much sense). Notice how this example has exactly the same paragraphs as the previous one, despite the ins and del elements — the ins element straddles the heading and the first paragraph, and the del element straddles the boundary between the two paragraphs.

<section>
  <ins><h1>Example of paragraphs</h1>
  This is the <em>first</em> paragraph in</ins> this example<del>.
  <p>This is the second.</p></del>
  <!-- This is not a paragraph. -->
</section>

Let view be a view of the DOM that replaces all a, ins, del, and map elements in the document with their contents. Then, in view, for each run of sibling phrasing content nodes uninterrupted by other types of content, in an element that accepts content other than phrasing content as well as phrasing content, let first be the first node of the run, and let last be the last node of the run. For each such run that consists of at least one node that is neither embedded content nor inter-element whitespace, a paragraph exists in the original DOM from immediately before first to immediately after last. (Paragraphs can thus span across a, ins, del, and map elements.)

Conformance checkers may warn authors of cases where they have paragraphs that overlap each other (this can happen with object, video, audio, and canvas elements, and indirectly through elements in other namespaces that allow HTML to be further embedded therein, like svg or math).

A paragraph is also formed explicitly by p elements.

The p element can be used to wrap individual paragraphs when there would otherwise not be any content other than phrasing content to separate the paragraphs from each other.

In the following example, the link spans half of the first paragraph, all of the heading separating the two paragraphs, and half of the second paragraph. It straddles the paragraphs and the heading.

<header>
 Welcome!
 <a href="about.html">
  This is home of...
  <h1>The Falcons!</h1>
  The Lockheed Martin multirole jet fighter aircraft!
 </a>
 This page discusses the F-16 Fighting Falcon's innermost secrets.
</header>

Here is another way of marking this up, this time showing the paragraphs explicitly, and splitting the one link element into three:

<header>
 <p>Welcome! <a href="about.html">This is home of...</a></p>
 <h1><a href="about.html">The Falcons!</a></h1>
 <p><a href="about.html">The Lockheed Martin multirole jet
 fighter aircraft!</a> This page discusses the F-16 Fighting
 Falcon's innermost secrets.</p>
</header>

It is possible for paragraphs to overlap when using certain elements that define fallback content. For example, in the following section:

<section>
 <h1>My Cats</h1>
 You can play with my cat simulator.
 <object data="cats.sim">
  To see the cat simulator, use one of the following links:
  <ul>
   <li><a href="cats.sim">Download simulator file</a>
   <li><a href="http://sims.example.com/watch?v=LYds5xY4INU">Use online simulator</a>
  </ul>
  Alternatively, upgrade to the Mellblom Browser.
 </object>
 I'm quite proud of it.
</section>

There are five paragraphs:

  1. The paragraph that says "You can play with my cat simulator. object I'm quite proud of it.", where object is the object element.
  2. The paragraph that says "To see the cat simulator, use one of the following links:".
  3. The paragraph that says "Download simulator file".
  4. The paragraph that says "Use online simulator".
  5. The paragraph that says "Alternatively, upgrade to the Mellblom Browser.".

The first paragraph is overlapped by the other four. A user agent that supports the "cats.sim" resource will only show the first one, but a user agent that shows the fallback will confusingly show the first sentence of the first paragraph as if it was in the same paragraph as the second one, and will show the last paragraph as if it was at the start of the second sentence of the first paragraph.

To avoid this confusion, explicit p elements can be used. For example:

<section>
 <h1>My Fish</h1>
 You can play with my fish simulator.
 <object data="fish.sim">
  <p>To see the fish simulator, use one of the following links:</p>
  <ul>
   <li><a href="fish.sim">Download simulator file</a>
   <li><a href="http://sims.example.com/watch?v=LYds5xY4INU">Use online simulator</a>
  </ul>
  <p>Alternatively, upgrade to the Mellblom Browser.</p>
 </object>
 I'm quite proud of it.
</section>

3.2.6 Requirements relating to bidirectional-algorithm formatting characters

Text content in HTML elements with child Text nodes, and text in attributes of HTML elements that allow free-form text, may contain characters in the range U+202A to U+202E (the bidirectional-algorithm formatting characters). However, the use of these characters is restricted so that any embedding or overrides generated by these characters do not start and end with different parent elements, and so that all such embeddings and overrides are explicitly terminated by a U+202C POP DIRECTIONAL FORMATTING character. This helps reduce incidences of text being reused in a manner that has unforeseen effects on the bidirectional algorithm. [BIDI]

The aforementioned restrictions are defined by specifying that certain parts of documents form bidirectional-algorithm formatting character ranges, and then imposing a requirement on such ranges.

The strings resulting from applying the following algorithm to an HTML element element are bidirectional-algorithm formatting character ranges:

  1. Let output be an empty list of strings.

  2. Let string be an empty string.

  3. Let node be the first child node of element, if any, or null otherwise.

  4. Loop: If node is null, jump to the step labeled end.

  5. Process node according to the first matching step from the following list:

    If node is a Text node

    Append the text data of node to string.

    If node is a br element
    If node is an HTML element that is flow content but that is not also phrasing content

    If string is not the empty string, push string onto output, and let string be empty string.

    Otherwise
    Do nothing.
  6. Let node be node's next sibling, if any, or null otherwise.

  7. Jump to the step labeled loop.

  8. End: If string is not the empty string, push string onto output.

  9. Return output as the bidirectional-algorithm formatting character ranges.

The value of a namespace-less attribute of an HTML element is a bidirectional-algorithm formatting character range.

Any strings that, as described above, are bidirectional-algorithm formatting character ranges must match the string production in the following ABNF, the character set for which is Unicode. [ABNF]

string        = *( plaintext ( embedding / override ) ) plaintext
embedding     = ( lre / rle ) string pdf
override      = ( lro / rlo ) string pdf
lre           = %x202A ; U+202A LEFT-TO-RIGHT EMBEDDING
rle           = %x202B ; U+202B RIGHT-TO-LEFT EMBEDDING
lro           = %x202D ; U+202D LEFT-TO-RIGHT OVERRIDE
rlo           = %x202E ; U+202E RIGHT-TO-LEFT OVERRIDE
pdf           = %x202C ; U+202C POP DIRECTIONAL FORMATTING
plaintext     = *( %x0000-2029 / %x202F-10FFFF )
                ; any string with no bidirectional-algorithm formatting characters

Authors are encouraged to use the dir attribute, the bdo element, and the bdi element, rather than maintaining the bidirectional-algorithm formatting characters manually. The bidirectional-algorithm formatting characters interact poorly with CSS.

3.2.7 WAI-ARIA

Authors may use the ARIA role and aria-* attributes on HTML elements, in accordance with the requirements described in the ARIA specifications, except where these conflict with the strong native semantics described below. These exceptions are intended to prevent authors from making assistive technology products report nonsensical states that do not represent the actual state of the document. [ARIA]

User agents are required to implement ARIA semantics on all HTML elements, as defined in the ARIA specifications. The implicit ARIA semantics defined below must be recognized by implementations for the purposes of ARIA processing. [ARIAIMPL]

The ARIA attributes defined in the ARIA specifications, and the strong native semantics and default implicit ARIA semantics defined below, do not have any effect on CSS pseudo-class matching, user interface modalities that don't use assistive technologies, or the default actions of user interaction events as described in this specification.

3.2.7.1 ARIA Role Attribute

Every HTML element may have an ARIA role attribute specified. This is an ARIA Role attribute as defined by [ARIA] Section 5.4 Definition of Roles.

The attribute, if specified, must have a value that is a set of space-separated tokens representing the various WAI-ARIA roles that the element belongs to.

The WAI-ARIA role that an HTML element has assigned to it is the first non-abstract role found in the list of values generated when the role attribute is split on spaces.

3.2.7.2 State and Property Attributes

Every HTML element may have ARIA state and property attributes specified. These attributes are defined by [ARIA] in Section 6.6, Definitions of States and Properties (all aria-* attributes).

These attributes, if specified, must have a value that is the ARIA value type in the "Value" field of the definition for the state or property, mapped to the appropriate HTML value type according to [ARIA] Section 10.2 Mapping WAI-ARIA Value types to languages using the HTML 5 mapping.

ARIA State and Property attributes can be used on any element. They are not always meaningful, however, and in such cases user agents might not perform any processing aside from including them in the DOM. State and property attributes are processed according to the requirements of the sections Strong Native Semantics and Implicit ARIA semantics, as well as [ARIA] and [ARIAIMPL].

3.2.7.3 Strong Native Semantics

The following table defines the strong native semantics and corresponding default implicit ARIA semantics that apply to HTML elements. Each language feature (element or attribute) in a cell in the first column implies the ARIA semantics (role, states, and/or properties) given in the cell in the second column of the same row. When multiple rows apply to an element, the role from the last row to define a role must be applied, and the states and properties from all the rows must be combined.

Language feature Strong native semantics and default implied ARIA semantics
area element that creates a hyperlink link role
base element No role
datalist element listbox role, with the aria-multiselectable property set to "false"
details element aria-expanded state set to "true" if the element's open attribute is present, and set to "false" otherwise
dialog element without an open attribute The aria-hidden state set to "true"
head element No role
hgroup element heading role, with the aria-level property set to the element's outline depth
hr element separator role
html element No role
img element whose alt attribute's value is empty presentation role
input element with a type attribute in the Checkbox state aria-checked state set to "mixed" if the element's indeterminate IDL attribute is true, or "true" if the element's checkedness is true, or "false" otherwise
input element with a type attribute in the Color state No role
input element with a type attribute in the Date state No role, with the aria-readonly property set to "true" if the element has a readonly attribute
input element with a type attribute in the Date and Time state No role, with the aria-readonly property set to "true" if the element has a readonly attribute
input element with a type attribute in the Local Date and Time state No role, with the aria-readonly property set to "true" if the element has a readonly attribute
input element with a type attribute in the E-mail state with no suggestions source element textbox role, with the aria-readonly property set to "true" if the element has a readonly attribute
input element with a type attribute in the File Upload state No role
input element with a type attribute in the Hidden state No role
input element with a type attribute in the Month state No role, with the aria-readonly property set to "true" if the element has a readonly attribute
input element with a type attribute in the Number state spinbutton role, with the aria-readonly property set to "true" if the element has a readonly attribute, the aria-valuemax property set to the element's maximum, the aria-valuemin property set to the element's minimum, and, if the result of applying the rules for parsing floating-point number values to the element's value is a number, with the aria-valuenow property set to that number
input element with a type attribute in the Password state textbox role, with the aria-readonly property set to "true" if the element has a readonly attribute
input element with a type attribute in the Radio Button state aria-checked state set to "true" if the element's checkedness is true, or "false" otherwise
input element with a type attribute in the Range state slider role, with the aria-valuemax property set to the element's maximum, the aria-valuemin property set to the element's minimum, and the aria-valuenow property set to the result of applying the rules for parsing floating-point number values to the element's value, if that results in a number, or the default value otherwise
input element with a type attribute in the Reset Button state button role
input element with a type attribute in the Search state with no suggestions source element textbox role, with the aria-readonly property set to "true" if the element has a readonly attribute
input element with a type attribute in the Submit Button state button role
input element with a type attribute in the Telephone state with no suggestions source element textbox role, with the aria-readonly property set to "true" if the element has a readonly attribute
input element with a type attribute in the Text state with no suggestions source element textbox role, with the aria-readonly property set to "true" if the element has a readonly attribute
input element with a type attribute in the Text, Search, Telephone, URL, or E-mail states with a suggestions source element combobox role, with the aria-owns property set to the same value as the list attribute, and the aria-readonly property set to "true" if the element has a readonly attribute
input element with a type attribute in the Time state No role, with the aria-readonly property set to "true" if the element has a readonly attribute
input element with a type attribute in the URL state with no suggestions source element textbox role, with the aria-readonly property set to "true" if the element has a readonly attribute
input element with a type attribute in the Week state No role, with the aria-readonly property set to "true" if the element has a readonly attribute
input element that is required The aria-required state set to "true"
keygen element No role
label element No role
link element that creates a hyperlink link role
menu element with a type attribute in the context menu state No role
menu element with a type attribute in the list state menu role
menu element with a type attribute in the toolbar state toolbar role
meta element No role
meter element No role
nav element navigation role
noscript element No role
optgroup element No role
option element that is in a list of options or that represents a suggestion in a datalist element option role, with the aria-selected state set to "true" if the element's selectedness is true, or "false" otherwise.
param element No role
progress element progressbar role, with, if the progress bar is determinate, the aria-valuemax property set to the maximum value of the progress bar, the aria-valuemin property set to zero, and the aria-valuenow property set to the current value of the progress bar
script element No role
select element with a multiple attribute listbox role, with the aria-multiselectable property set to "true"
select element with no multiple attribute listbox role, with the aria-multiselectable property set to "false"
select element with a required attribute The aria-required state set to "true"
source element No role
style element No role
summary element No role
textarea element textbox role, with the aria-multiline property set to "true", and the aria-readonly property set to "true" if the element has a readonly attribute
textarea element with a required attribute The aria-required state set to "true"
title element No role
An element that defines a command, whose Type facet is "checkbox", and that is a descendant of a menu element whose type attribute in the list state menuitemcheckbox role, with the aria-checked state set to "true" if the command's Checked State facet is true, and "false" otherwise
An element that defines a command, whose Type facet is "command", and that is a descendant of a menu element whose type attribute in the list state menuitem role
An element that defines a command, whose Type facet is "radio", and that is a descendant of a menu element whose type attribute in the list state menuitemradio role, with the aria-checked state set to "true" if the command's Checked State facet is true, and "false" otherwise
Element that is disabled The aria-disabled state set to "true"
Element that is inert The aria-disabled state set to "true"
Element with a hidden attribute The aria-hidden state set to "true"
Element that is a candidate for constraint validation but that does not satisfy its constraints The aria-invalid state set to "true"
3.2.7.4 Implicit ARIA Semantics

Some HTML elements have native semantics that can be overridden. The following table lists these elements and their default implicit ARIA semantics, along with the restrictions that apply to those elements. Each language feature (element or attribute) in a cell in the first column implies, unless otherwise overridden, the ARIA semantic (role, state, or property) given in the cell in the second column of the same row, but this semantic may be overridden under the conditions listed in the cell in the third column of that row. In addition, any element may be given the presentation role, regardless of the restrictions below.

Language feature Default implied ARIA semantic Restrictions
a element that creates a hyperlink link role Role must be either link, button, checkbox, menuitem, menuitemcheckbox, menuitemradio, tab, or treeitem
address element No role If specified, role must be contentinfo
article element article role Role must be either article, document, application, or main
aside element complementary role Role must be either complementary, note, or search
audio element No role If specified, role must be application
button element button role Role must be either button, link, menuitem, menuitemcheckbox, menuitemradio, radio
details element group role Role must be a role that supports aria-expanded
dialog element dialog role Role must be either alert, alertdialog, application, contentinfo, dialog, document, log, main, marquee, region, search, or status
embed element No role If specified, role must be either application, document, or img
footer element No role If specified, role must be contentinfo
h1 element that does not have an hgroup ancestor heading role, with the aria-level property set to the element's outline depth Role must be either heading or tab
h2 element that does not have an hgroup ancestor heading role, with the aria-level property set to the element's outline depth Role must be either heading or tab
h3 element that does not have an hgroup ancestor heading role, with the aria-level property set to the element's outline depth Role must be either heading or tab
h4 element that does not have an hgroup ancestor heading role, with the aria-level property set to the element's outline depth Role must be either heading or tab
h5 element that does not have an hgroup ancestor heading role, with the aria-level property set to the element's outline depth Role must be either heading or tab
h6 element that does not have an hgroup ancestor heading role, with the aria-level property set to the element's outline depth Role must be either heading or tab
header element No role If specified, role must be banner
iframe element No role If specified, role must be either application, document, or img
img element whose alt attribute's value is absent img role No restrictions
img element whose alt attribute's value is present and not empty img role No restrictions
input element with a type attribute in the Button state button role Role must be either button, link, menuitem, menuitemcheckbox, menuitemradio, radio
input element with a type attribute in the Checkbox state checkbox role Role must be either checkbox or menuitemcheckbox
input element with a type attribute in the Image Button state button role Role must be either button, link, menuitem, menuitemcheckbox, menuitemradio, radio
input element with a type attribute in the Radio Button state radio role Role must be either radio or menuitemradio
li element whose parent is an ol or ul element listitem role Role must be either listitem, menuitemcheckbox, menuitemradio, option, tab, or treeitem
object element No role If specified, role must be either application, document, or img
ol element list role Role must be either directory, list, listbox, menu, menubar, tablist, toolbar, tree
output element status role No restrictions
section element region role Role must be either alert, alertdialog, application, contentinfo, dialog, document, log, main, marquee, region, search, or status
ul element list role Role must be either directory, list, listbox, menu, menubar, tablist, toolbar, tree
video element No role If specified, role must be application
The body element document role Role must be either document or application

The entry "no role", when used as a strong native semantic, means that no role other than presentation can be used. When used as a default implied ARIA semantic, it means the user agent has no default mapping to ARIA roles. (However, it probably will have its own mappings to the accessibility layer.)

The WAI-ARIA specification neither requires or forbids user agents from enhancing native presentation and interaction behaviors on the basis of WAI- ARIA markup. Even mainstream user agents might choose to expose metadata or navigational features directly or via user-installed extensions; for example, exposing required form fields or landmark navigation. User agents are encouraged to maximize their usefulness to users, including users without disabilities.

Conformance checkers are encouraged to phrase errors such that authors are encouraged to use more appropriate elements rather than remove accessibility annotations. For example, if an a element is marked as having the button role, a conformance checker could say "Use a more appropriate element to represent a button, for example a button element or an input element" rather than "The button role cannot be used with a elements".

These features can be used to make accessibility tools render content to their users in more useful ways. For example, ASCII art, which is really an image, appears to be text, and in the absence of appropriate annotations would end up being rendered by screen readers as a very painful reading of lots of punctuation. Using the features described in this section, one can instead make the ATs skip the ASCII art and just read the caption:

<figure role="img" aria-labelledby="fish-caption"> 
 <pre>
 o           .'`/
     '      /  (
   O    .-'` ` `'-._      .')
      _/ (o)        '.  .' /
      )       )))     ><  <
      `\  |_\      _.'  '. \
        '-._  _ .-'       '.)
    jgs     `\__\
 </pre>
 <figcaption id="fish-caption">
  Joan G. Stark, "<cite>fish</cite>".
  October 1997. ASCII on electrons. 28×8.
 </figcaption>
</figure>
   

3.3 Interactions with XPath and XSLT

Implementations of XPath 1.0 that operate on HTML documents parsed or created in the manners described in this specification (e.g. as part of the document.evaluate() API) must act as if the following edit was applied to the XPath 1.0 specification.

First, remove this paragraph:

A QName in the node test is expanded into an expanded-name using the namespace declarations from the expression context. This is the same way expansion is done for element type names in start and end-tags except that the default namespace declared with xmlns is not used: if the QName does not have a prefix, then the namespace URI is null (this is the same way attribute names are expanded). It is an error if the QName has a prefix for which there is no namespace declaration in the expression context.

Then, insert in its place the following:

A QName in the node test is expanded into an expanded-name using the namespace declarations from the expression context. If the QName has a prefix, then there must be a namespace declaration for this prefix in the expression context, and the corresponding namespace URI is the one that is associated with this prefix. It is an error if the QName has a prefix for which there is no namespace declaration in the expression context.

If the QName has no prefix and the principal node type of the axis is element, then the default element namespace is used. Otherwise if the QName has no prefix, the namespace URI is null. The default element namespace is a member of the context for the XPath expression. The value of the default element namespace when executing an XPath expression through the DOM3 XPath API is determined in the following way:

  1. If the context node is from an HTML DOM, the default element namespace is "http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml".
  2. Otherwise, the default element namespace URI is null.

This is equivalent to adding the default element namespace feature of XPath 2.0 to XPath 1.0, and using the HTML namespace as the default element namespace for HTML documents. It is motivated by the desire to have implementations be compatible with legacy HTML content while still supporting the changes that this specification introduces to HTML regarding the namespace used for HTML elements, and by the desire to use XPath 1.0 rather than XPath 2.0.

This change is a willful violation of the XPath 1.0 specification, motivated by desire to have implementations be compatible with legacy content while still supporting the changes that this specification introduces to HTML regarding which namespace is used for HTML elements. [XPATH10]


XSLT 1.0 processors outputting to a DOM when the output method is "html" (either explicitly or via the defaulting rule in XSLT 1.0) are affected as follows:

If the transformation program outputs an element in no namespace, the processor must, prior to constructing the corresponding DOM element node, change the namespace of the element to the HTML namespace, ASCII-lowercase the element's local name, and ASCII-lowercase the names of any non-namespaced attributes on the element.

This requirement is a willful violation of the XSLT 1.0 specification, required because this specification changes the namespaces and case-sensitivity rules of HTML in a manner that would otherwise be incompatible with DOM-based XSLT transformations. (Processors that serialize the output are unaffected.) [XSLT10]


This specification does not specify precisely how XSLT processing interacts with the HTML parser infrastructure (for example, whether an XSLT processor acts as if it puts any elements into a stack of open elements). However, XSLT processors must stop parsing if they successfully complete, and must set the current document readiness first to "interactive" and then to "complete" if they are aborted.


This specification does not specify how XSLT interacts with the navigation algorithm, how it fits in with the event loop, nor how error pages are to be handled (e.g. whether XSLT errors are to replace an incremental XSLT output, or are rendered inline, etc).

There are also additional non-normative comments regarding the interaction of XSLT and HTML in the script element section.

3.4 Dynamic markup insertion

APIs for dynamically inserting markup into the document interact with the parser, and thus their behavior varies depending on whether they are used with HTML documents (and the HTML parser) or XHTML in XML documents (and the XML parser).

3.4.1 Opening the input stream

The open() method comes in several variants with different numbers of arguments.

document = document . open( [ type [, replace ] ] )

Causes the Document to be replaced in-place, as if it was a new Document object, but reusing the previous object, which is then returned.

If the type argument is omitted or has the value "text/html", then the resulting Document has an HTML parser associated with it, which can be given data to parse using document.write(). Otherwise, all content passed to document.write() will be parsed as plain text.

If the replace argument is present and has the value "replace", the existing entries in the session history for the Document object are removed.

The method has no effect if the Document is still being parsed.

Throws an InvalidStateError exception if the Document is an XML document.

window = document . open( url, name, features [, replace ] )

Works like the window.open() method.

Document objects have an ignore-opens-during-unload counter, which is used to prevent scripts from invoking the document.open() method (directly or indirectly) while the document is being unloaded. Initially, the counter must be set to zero.

When called with two or fewer arguments, the document.open() method must act as follows:

  1. If the Document object is not flagged as an HTML document, throw an InvalidStateError exception and abort these steps.
  2. Let type be the value of the first argument, if there is one, or "text/html" otherwise.

  3. Let replace be true if there is a second argument and it is an ASCII case-insensitive match for the value "replace", and false otherwise.

  4. If the Document has an active parser that isn't a script-created parser, and the insertion point associated with that parser's input stream is not undefined (that is, it does point to somewhere in the input stream), then the method does nothing. Abort these steps and return the Document object on which the method was invoked.

    This basically causes document.open() to be ignored when it's called in an inline script found during the parsing of data sent over the network, while still letting it have an effect when called asynchronously or on a document that is itself being spoon-fed using these APIs.

  5. Similarly, if the Document's ignore-opens-during-unload counter is greater than zero, then the method does nothing. Abort these steps and return the Document object on which the method was invoked.

    This basically causes document.open() to be ignored when it's called from a beforeunload pagehide, or unload event handler while the Document is being unloaded.

  6. Release the storage mutex.

  7. Set the Document's salvageable state to false.

  8. Prompt to unload the Document object. If the user refused to allow the document to be unloaded, then abort these steps and return the Document object on which the method was invoked.

  9. Unload the Document object, with the recycle parameter set to true.

  10. Abort the Document.

  11. Unregister all event listeners registered on the Document node and its descendants.

  12. Remove any tasks associated with the Document in any task source.

  13. Remove all child nodes of the document, without firing any mutation events.

  14. Replace the Document's singleton objects with new instances of those objects. (This includes in particular the Window, Location, History, ApplicationCache, and Navigator, objects, the various BarProp objects, the two Storage objects, the various HTMLCollection objects, and objects defined by other specifications, like Selection and the document's UndoManager. It also includes all the Web IDL prototypes in the JavaScript binding, including the Document object's prototype.)

  15. Change the document's character encoding to UTF-8.

  16. Set the Document object's reload override flag and set the Document's reload override buffer to the empty string.

  17. Set the Document's salvageable state back to true.

  18. Change the document's address to the entry script's document's address.

  19. Create a new HTML parser and associate it with the document. This is a script-created parser (meaning that it can be closed by the document.open() and document.close() methods, and that the tokenizer will wait for an explicit call to document.close() before emitting an end-of-file token). The encoding confidence is irrelevant.

  20. Set the current document readiness of the document to "loading".

  21. If the type string contains a ";" (U+003B) character, remove the first such character and all characters from it up to the end of the string.

  22. Strip leading and trailing whitespace from type.

    If type is not now an ASCII case-insensitive match for the string "text/html", then act as if the tokenizer had emitted a start tag token with the tag name "pre" followed by a single "LF" (U+000A) character, then switch the HTML parser's tokenizer to the PLAINTEXT state.

  23. Remove all the entries in the browsing context's session history after the current entry. If the current entry is the last entry in the session history, then no entries are removed.

    This doesn't necessarily have to affect the user agent's user interface.

  24. Remove any tasks queued by the history traversal task source that are associated with any Document objects in the top-level browsing context's document family.

  25. Remove any earlier entries that share the same Document.
  26. If replace is false, then add a new entry, just before the last entry, and associate with the new entry the text that was parsed by the previous parser associated with the Document object, as well as the state of the document at the start of these steps. This allows the user to step backwards in the session history to see the page before it was blown away by the document.open() call. This new entry does not have a Document object, so a new one will be created if the session history is traversed to that entry.

  27. Finally, set the insertion point to point at just before the end of the input stream (which at this point will be empty).

  28. Return the Document on which the method was invoked.

The document.open() method does not affect whether a Document is ready for post-load tasks or completely loaded.

When called with three or more arguments, the open() method on the Document object must call the open() method on the Window object of the Document object, with the same arguments as the original call to the open() method, and return whatever that method returned. If the Document object has no Window object, then the method must throw an InvalidAccessError exception.

3.4.2 Closing the input stream

document . close()

Closes the input stream that was opened by the document.open() method.

Throws an InvalidStateError exception if the Document is an XML document.

The close() method must run the following steps:

  1. If the Document object is not flagged as an HTML document, throw an InvalidStateError exception and abort these steps.

  2. If there is no script-created parser associated with the document, then abort these steps.

  3. Insert an explicit "EOF" character at the end of the parser's input stream.

  4. If there is a pending parsing-blocking script, then abort these steps.

  5. Run the tokenizer, processing resulting tokens as they are emitted, and stopping when the tokenizer reaches the explicit "EOF" character or spins the event loop.

3.4.3 document.write()

document . write(text...)

In general, adds the given string(s) to the Document's input stream.

This method has very idiosyncratic behavior. In some cases, this method can affect the state of the HTML parser while the parser is running, resulting in a DOM that does not correspond to the source of the document (e.g. if the string written is the string "<plaintext>" or "<!--"). In other cases, the call can clear the current page first, as if document.open() had been called. In yet more cases, the method is simply ignored, or throws an exception. To make matters worse, the exact behavior of this method can in some cases be dependent on network latency, which can lead to failures that are very hard to debug. For all these reasons, use of this method is strongly discouraged.

This method throws an InvalidStateError exception when invoked on XML documents.

Document objects have an ignore-destructive-writes counter, which is used in conjunction with the processing of script elements to prevent external scripts from being able to use document.write() to blow away the document by implicitly calling document.open(). Initially, the counter must be set to zero.

The document.write(...) method must act as follows:

  1. If the method was invoked on an XML document, throw an InvalidStateError exception and abort these steps.

  2. If the insertion point is undefined and either the Document's ignore-opens-during-unload counter is greater than zero or the Document's ignore-destructive-writes counter is greater than zero, abort these steps.

  3. If the insertion point is undefined, call the open() method on the document object (with no arguments). If the user refused to allow the document to be unloaded, then abort these steps. Otherwise, the insertion point will point at just before the end of the (empty) input stream.

  4. Insert the string consisting of the concatenation of all the arguments to the method into the input stream just before the insertion point.

  5. If the Document object's reload override flag is set, then append the string consisting of the concatenation of all the arguments to the method to the Document's reload override buffer.

  6. If there is no pending parsing-blocking script, have the HTML parser process the characters that were inserted, one at a time, processing resulting tokens as they are emitted, and stopping when the tokenizer reaches the insertion point or when the processing of the tokenizer is aborted by the tree construction stage (this can happen if a script end tag token is emitted by the tokenizer).

    If the document.write() method was called from script executing inline (i.e. executing because the parser parsed a set of script tags), then this is a reentrant invocation of the parser.

  7. Finally, return from the method.

3.4.4 document.writeln()

document . writeln(text...)

Adds the given string(s) to the Document's input stream, followed by a newline character. If necessary, calls the open() method implicitly first.

This method throws an InvalidStateError exception when invoked on XML documents.

The document.writeln(...) method, when invoked, must act as if the document.write() method had been invoked with the same argument(s), plus an extra argument consisting of a string containing a single line feed character (U+000A).