HTML <div> Tag
<div> tag represents a generic section within an HTML document. The
<div> tag enables you to group sections of HTML elements together and format them with CSS.
<div> element accepts "flow content", which refers to most elements that can appear inside a document's body.
<div> should only be used as a last resort when there isn't another suitable HTML element to use. HTML5 has introduced a number of new elements that can (and should) be used in place of the
<div>. These include
<footer> and others. See below under "Differences Between HTML 4 & HTML 5" for more information on this.
<div> tag is written as
</div> with the generic content inserted between the start and end tags.
Basic tag usage
As you can see, simply placing content inside a
<div> tag doesn't really do anything or change the content's appearance. It simply acts as a container that holds the enclosed content.
One of the most common reasons for using the
<div> element is to apply styles. You can apply styles to the element itself, or to any element enclosed within it.
You can style an element using inline styles, where you apply the styles via the
Embedded & External Styles
Here's an example of using embedded styles and applying them via the
class attribute of the
You can nest
<div> elements inside each other. Each of these could have different styles applied.
Attributes can be added to an HTML element to provide more information about how the element should appear or behave.
There are 3 kinds of attributes that you can add to your HTML tags: Element-specific, global, and event handler content attributes.
<div> element accepts the following attributes.
This table shows the attributes that are specific to the
The following attributes are standard across all HTML5 elements. Therefore, you can use these attributes with the
<div> tag , as well as with all other HTML tags.
For a full explanation of these attributes, see HTML 5 global attributes.
Event Handler Content Attributes
Event handler content attributes enable you to invoke a script from within your HTML. The script is invoked when a certain "event" occurs. Each event handler content attribute deals with a different event.
Below are the standard HTML5 event handler content attributes.
Again, you can use any of these with the
<div> element, as well as any other HTML5 element.
For a full explanation of these attributes, see HTML 5 event handler content attributes.
Differences Between HTML 4 & HTML 5
In HTML 4.01 documents, the
<div> tag was often used for specifying the various navigational sections of the HTML document (such as the header, footer, content area, side bars, etc).
The HTML 5 specification has introduced a number of new elements that can (and should) be used instead of the
<div> element. Examples of these new elements include
<footer>, as well as others.
<div> element should generally be used as an extension mechanism which is used only if there isn't another suitable HTML element to use.
Here's a template for the
<div> tag with all available attributes for the tag (based on HTML5). These are grouped into attribute types, each type separated by a space. In many cases, you will probably only need one or two (if any) attributes. Simply remove the attributes you don't need.
Note that the
<div> element does not actually have any local attributes (i.e. attributes that are specific to the element), but the following global attributes and event handlers are available to the element (and all other HTML elements).
Here are the official specifications for the
- HTML5 Specification (W3C)
- HTML Living Standard (WHATWG)
- Current W3C Draft (the next version that is currently being worked on)
- HTML 4 (W3C)
What's the Difference?
W3C creates "snapshot" specifications that don't change once defined. So the HTML5 specification won't change once it becomes an official recommendation. WHATWG on the other hand, develops a "living standard" that is updated on a regular basis. In general, you will probably find that the HTML living standard will be more closely aligned to the current W3C draft than to the HTML5 specification.