HTML <form> Tag

The HTML <form> tag represents a form in an HTML document.

The <form> tag is used in conjunction with form-associated elements. To create a form, you typically nest form-associated elements inside the opening/closing <form> tags. You can also use the form attribute within those elements to reference the ID of the form to use.


The <form> tag is written as <form></form> with any number of form-associated elements nested between the start and end tags. The <form> tag usually has an action attribute specified (which specifies the page that will process the form). It can also have other attributes. See below under "Template" for a list of attributes that can be used with the <form> element.

Like this:

Here's an example that contains three <input> elements and two <label> elements:


Basic Form

Here's a form that is used to collect the user's name details.

Using an Element's form Attribute

It is possible to associate an element with a form by using that element's form attribute. Form-associated elements have this attribute that allow you to explicitly specify which form should be used for that element.

If using an element's form attribute, you must specify the id of the form you wish to associate the element with.

In the following example, I've placed all the form-associated elements outside of the <form> element. But I've purposely associated only two elements with the form (to demonstrate the effect of the form attribute). The first name has been associated with a form but the last name has not. Therefore, the last name is not submitted with the form and the action page doesn't acknowledge the users' last name.

Form-Associated Elements

Here are the form-associated elements (i.e. elements that can have a form-owner).


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

The <form> element accepts the following attributes.

accept-charsetSpecifies a space separated list of character encodings that the server accepts. In previous versions of HTML, character encodings could also be delimited by commas.
actionSpecifies a URI/URL of the page that will process the form.

Specifies whether the form fields should be automatically completed based on the user's history (i.e. based on previous forms that the user has completed). This relieves the user from having to re-enter form data that could easily be re-populated from previous form history (such as address information).

The autocomplete attribute is an enumerated attribute which has two states; "on" and "off". The default value is "on".

Note that is it possible to set the form's autocomplete to one value, then specify a different value against specific fields within that form.


Specifies the content type used to encode the form data set when it's submitted to the server.

Possible values:

  • application/x-www-form-urlencoded (Default value.)
  • multipart/form-data (Use this when uploading files.)
  • text/plain (Use this when uploading files.)

Specifies the HTTP method to use when the form is submitted.

Possible values:

  • get (The form data is appended to the URL when submitted. This is the default value.)
  • post (The form data is not appended to the URL.)
  • dialog (Closes the dialog box in which the form finds itself, if any, and otherwise does not submit.)
nameAssigns a name to the form. This is used when referencing the form with stylesheets or scripts. If there are multiple forms, the name of each form must be unique.

Specifies that the form should not be validated during submission.

This is a boolean attribute. If the attribute is present, its value must either be the empty string or a value that is an ASCII case-insensitive match for the attribute's canonical name, with no leading or trailing whitespace (i.e. either novalidate or novalidate="novalidate").

Possible values:

  • [Empty string]
  • novalidate

Specifies the browsing context to load the destination indicated in the action attribute.

Possible values:

  • _blank
  • _self
  • _top
  • _parent

Controls what kinds of links the elements create.

Possible values:

externalIndicates that the referenced document is not part of the same site as the current document.
helpProvides a link to context-sensitive help.
licenseIndicates that the main content of the current document is covered by the copyright license described by the referenced document.
nextIndicates that the current document is a part of a series, and that the next document in the series is the referenced document.
nofollowIndicates that the current document's original author or publisher does not endorse the referenced document. This attribute is often used to declare paid links to search engines such as Google, who, request that webmasters declare all paid links (eg, advertising) in this manner.
noopenerCreates a top-level browsing context that is not an auxiliary browsing context if the hyperlink would create either of those to begin with (i.e., has an appropriate target attribute value).
noreferrerRequires that the user agent not send an HTTP Referer (sic) header if the user follows the hyperlink.
openerCreates an auxiliary browsing context if the hyperlink would otherwise create a top-level browsing context that is not an auxiliary browsing context (i.e., has "_blank" as target attribute value).
prevIndicates that the current document is a part of a series, and that the previous document in the series is the referenced document.
searchGives a link to a resource that can be used to search through the current document and its related pages.

Global Attributes

The following attributes are standard across all HTML elements. Therefore, you can use these attributes with the <form> 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.