HTML <em> Tag

The HTML <em> tag represents stress emphasis of its contents.

The <em> tag is used when you need to emphasize a particular word or phrase within a sentence. The placement of stress emphasis changes the meaning of the sentence.

Also see the <strong> and <b> tags.


The <em> tag is written as <em></em> with the emphasized content inserted between the start and end tags.

Like this:


Basic tag usage

Here, the words "chameleon" and the second occurence of "comedian" have stress emphasis, which means that the speakers want to emphasize these words.

Moving the Stress Emphasis

Here, Rupert replies again with the same "I am a comedian" line. However, this time he has moved the stress-emphasis to the word "am". By moving the stress emphasis, the meaning of the sentence has changed. This time his occupation is under question, so he emphasizes "am" to stress that he really is what he says he is.

Nested <em> Elements

You can nest multiple <em> elements inside each other. This provides extra stress emphasis to the words enclosed in the inner <em> tags.

Once again, Rupert replies again with his stock-standard "I am a comedian" line. However, this time he is angry. Nobody questions Rupert's occupation - especially when he is so obviously a funny guy!

To demonstrate Rupert's frustration, we enclose the whole sentence in <em> tags. We also add another <em> element to the word "am" seeing as he's fighting hard to convince Jane that he is a comedian (fighting a losing battle by the looks of it too!).

Styling Nested <em> Elements

It's likely that your browser didn't render the nested <em> element any different than the outer element. So the user can't tell that the word "am" has even more stress emphasis than the rest of the sentence.

To overcome this, you could use CSS to style the inner element so that it stands out from the rest of the sentence.

Here's an example:


Attributes can be added to an HTML element to provide more information about how the element should appear or behave.

The <em> element accepts the following attributes.


Global Attributes

The following attributes are standard across all HTML elements. Therefore, you can use these attributes with the <em> tag , as well as with all other HTML tags.

For a full explanation of these attributes, see HTML 5 global attributes.

Event Handlers

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.

Most event handler content attributes can be used on all HTML elements, but some event handlers have specific rules around when they can be used and which elements they are applicable to.

For more detail, see HTML event handler content attributes.