HTML <meta> Tag

Topic: HTML5 Tags Reference« Prev|Next »


The <meta> tag provides structured metadata about the document. The <meta> element may only appear in the head section of a document, although it may appear any number of times.

The following table summarizes the usages context and the version history of this tag.

Parent: <head>
Content: None. It is an empty element.
Start/End Tag: Start tag: required, End tag: required
Version: HTML 2, 3.2, 4, 4.01, 5

Note:Metadata is data (information) about data – for example, keywords and description that relate to the document.

The <meta> tag commonly used to provide keywords, descriptions, author information, and other metadata that may be used by the browser to render the document correctly, or it may be used by the search engines for indexing purposes. Here's some real world examples to help you understand <meta> tag.

Example 1: Define the character encoding for the document

<meta charset="UTF-8">

Example 2: Defines the author name of the document

<meta name="author" content="John Smith">

Example 3: Defines a list of keywords for search engines

<meta name="keywords" content="HTML,CSS,Tutorials,References,Examples">

Example 4: Define a brief summery/description of the web page

<meta name="description" content="HTML/CSS Tutorials and References">

Example 5: Enable zooming in mobile devices

<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1">


The basic syntax of the <meta> tag is given with:

HTML:<meta name="text" content="text">
XHTML:<meta name="text" content="text" />

The example below shows the <meta> tag in action.

  • <head>
  •     <title>Example of HTML meta tag</title>
  •     <meta http-equiv="content-type" content="text/html;charset=UTF-8">
  •     <meta name="description" content="Free Web tutorials">
  •     <meta name="keywords" content="HTML,CSS,References,Examples">
  • </head>

Tag-Specific Attributes

The following table shows the attributes that are specific to the <meta> tag.

Attribute Value Description
Required — One of the following attributes must be specified for the markup to be valid.
name application-name
Defines a name for the meta-information contained in the content attribute.
content text Gives the value associated with the http-equiv or name attribute. This attribute must be specified if either http-equiv or name attribute is present.
charset character-set Specifies the character encoding for the HTML document.
http-equiv content-type
Binds the meta-information in the content attribute to an HTTP response header.
Optional — The following attribute is optional.
scheme format/URI Obsolete Specifies a scheme to be used to interpret the value of the content attribute.

Global Attributes

Like all other HTML tags, the <meta> tag supports the global attributes in HTML5.

Event Attributes

The <meta> tag also supports the event attributes in HTML5.

Browser Compatibility

The <meta> tag is supported in all major modern browsers.

Browsers Icon

Basic Support—

  • Firefox 1+
  • Google Chrome 1+
  • Internet Explorer 2+
  • Apple Safari 1+
  • Opera 4+

Further Reading

See tutorial on: HTML Meta.

Related tag: <head>.


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