This page talks about some words used to talk about HTML.

Words used when talking about HTML


When referring to HTML, it is useful to know some words that are used to refer to the tags and the parts of the tags.

Tags is the word used to refer to everything within the two angle brackets. For example, in the BODY tag, the start tag is:


And the end tag is:


Similarly, for the IMG tag:

<IMG SRC="myPicutre.gif" ALT="My picture">

Everything within the angle brackets is called the tag, in HTML talk.

Some tags must have beginning and end tags. For example, the <BODY> tag must have an end tag (</BODY>).

Some tags may have beginning and end tags. For example, the paragraph tag <P> may have an end tag </P> or not.

And other tags, such as the <IMG> tag, do not have end tags. They are called empty tags, and are written like this in XHTML:

<img src="myPage.htm" />

Tag Names

We often refer to HTML tags by using the tag name, as I have done. Similarly, the IMG tag is referred to by its tag name (IMG). We can also refer to the A element in A tags when we distinguish it from the attributes (although we can also refer to anything in the tags as an element, or even to the tags themselves as elements when we think of them as being part of the document).


An attribute is a named value. So in A tags, the HREF element :-) is referred to as an attribute of the A tag. The HREF attribute normally takes an URL as a value. In:

<IMG SRC="myPicture.gif" ALT="My Picture" BORDER="0">

The ALT attribute has the value "My Picture", And the BORDER attribute takes the value zero.

So, every HTML tag has a tag name, and zero or more attributes with values. For example:

<A HREF="#" onClick="MyFunction()"> .... </A>

contains the attribute, "onClick", with the value "MyFunction()".

And <BODY>

has no attributes.


Some sneaky attributes operate under different names. So in the previous example, onClick is a method and it is also an event handler. Nonetheless, it is still an attribute. onClick is an event handler because it handles the mouse click event on its A tag. So when the user clicks on the A tag, the onClick event handler does something (a method) according to the instructions given by the programmer (perhaps in javascript).


Clearly, we can communicate better when we use an agreed language. The HTML tags are angle brackets and their contents. The first element in the HTML tag is the tag name. The other elements or attributes can be placed in any order inside the tags.

The attributes may also be described using other words - for example, onClick can be described as a method or an event  handler.


Most Recent Revision: 18-May-2001.
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