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HTML <meta> Tag


Example

Describe metadata within an HTML document:

<head>
  <meta charset="UTF-8">
  <meta name="description" content="Free Web tutorials">
  <meta name="keywords" content="HTML,CSS,XML,JavaScript">
  <meta name="author" content="John Doe">
  <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0">
</head>
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Definition and Usage

Metadata is data (information) about data.

The <meta> tag provides metadata about the HTML document. Metadata will not be displayed on the page, but will be machine parsable.

Meta elements are typically used to specify page description, keywords, author of the document, last modified, and other metadata.

The metadata can be used by browsers (how to display content or reload page), search engines (keywords), or other web services.

HTML5 introduced a method to let web designers take control over the viewport (the user's visible area of a web page), through the <meta> tag (See "Setting The Viewport" example below).


Browser Support

Element
<meta> Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Tips and Notes

Note: <meta> tags always go inside the <head> element.

Note: Metadata is always passed as name/value pairs.

Note: The content attribute MUST be defined if the name or the http-equiv attribute is defined. If none of these are defined, the content attribute CANNOT be defined.

Setting The Viewport

HTML5 introduced a method to let web designers take control over the viewport, through the <meta> tag.

The viewport is the user's visible area of a web page. It varies with the device, and will be smaller on a mobile phone than on a computer screen.

You should include the following <meta> viewport element in all your web pages:

<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0">

A <meta> viewport element gives the browser instructions on how to control the page's dimensions and scaling.

The width=device-width part sets the width of the page to follow the screen-width of the device (which will vary depending on the device).

The initial-scale=1.0 part sets the initial zoom level when the page is first loaded by the browser.

Here is an example of a web page without the viewport meta tag, and the same web page with the viewport meta tag:

Tip: If you are browsing this page with a phone or a tablet, you can click on the two links below to see the difference.


You can read more about the viewport in our Responsive Web Design - The Viewport Tutorial.


Differences Between HTML 4.01 and HTML5

The scheme attribute is not supported in HTML5.

HTML5 has a new attribute, charset, which makes it easier to define charset:

  • HTML 4.01: <meta http-equiv="content-type" content="text/html; charset=UTF-8">
  • HTML5: <meta charset="UTF-8">

Differences Between HTML and XHTML

In HTML the <meta> tag has no end tag.

In XHTML the <meta> tag must be properly closed.


Examples

Example 1 - Define keywords for search engines:

<meta name="keywords" content="HTML, CSS, XML, XHTML, JavaScript">

Example 2 - Define a description of your web page:

<meta name="description" content="Free Web tutorials on HTML and CSS">

Example 3 - Define the author of a page:

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

Example 4 - Refresh document every 30 seconds:

<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="30">

Example 5 - Setting the viewport to make your website look good on all devices:

<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0">

Attributes

= New in HTML5.

Attribute Value Description
charset character_set Specifies the character encoding for the HTML document
content text Gives the value associated with the http-equiv or name attribute
http-equiv content-type
default-style
refresh
Provides an HTTP header for the information/value of the content attribute
name application-name
author
description
generator
keywords
viewport
Specifies a name for the metadata
scheme format/URI Not supported in HTML5.
Specifies a scheme to be used to interpret the value of the content attribute

Global Attributes

The <meta> tag also supports the Global Attributes in HTML.


Related Pages

HTML tutorial: HTML Head

HTML DOM reference: Meta Object


Default CSS Settings

None.