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HTML Form Attributes


This chapter describes the different attributes for the HTML <form> element.


The Action Attribute

The action attribute defines the action to be performed when the form is submitted.

Usually, the form data is sent to a file on the server when the user clicks on the submit button.

In the example below, the form data is sent to a file called "action_page.php". This file contains a server-side script that handles the form data:

Example

On submit, send form data to "action_page.php":

<form action="/action_page.php">
  <label for="fname">First name:</label><br>
  <input type="text" id="fname" name="fname" value="John"><br>
  <label for="lname">Last name:</label><br>
  <input type="text" id="lname" name="lname" value="Doe"><br><br>
  <input type="submit" value="Submit">
</form>
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Tip: If the action attribute is omitted, the action is set to the current page.


The Target Attribute

The target attribute specifies where to display the response that is received after submitting the form.

The target attribute can have one of the following values:

Value Description
_blank The response is displayed in a new window or tab
_self The response is displayed in the current window
_parent The response is displayed in the parent frame
_top The response is displayed in the full body of the window
framename The response is displayed in a named iframe

The default value is _self which means that the response will open in the current window.

Example

Here, the submitted result will open in a new browser tab:

<form action="/action_page.php" target="_blank">
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The Method Attribute

The method attribute specifies the HTTP method to use used when submitting the form data.

The form-data can be sent as URL variables (with method="get") or as HTTP post transaction (with method="post").

The default HTTP method when submitting form data is GET. 

Example

This example uses the GET method when submitting the form data:

<form action="/action_page.php" method="get">
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Example

This example uses the POST method when submitting the form data:

<form action="/action_page.php" method="post">
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Notes on GET:

  • Appends the form data to the URL, in name/value pairs
  • NEVER use GET to send sensitive data! (the submitted form data is visible in the URL!)
  • The length of a URL is limited (2048 characters)
  • Useful for form submissions where a user wants to bookmark the result
  • GET is good for non-secure data, like query strings in Google

Notes on POST:

  • Appends the form data inside the body of the HTTP request (the submitted form data is not shown in the URL)
  • POST has no size limitations, and can be used to send large amounts of data.
  • Form submissions with POST cannot be bookmarked

Tip: Always use POST if the form data contains sensitive or personal information!


The Autocomplete Attribute

The autocomplete attribute specifies whether a form should have autocomplete on or off.

When autocomplete is on, the browser automatically complete values based on values that the user has entered before.

Example

A form with autocomplete on:

<form action="/action_page.php" autocomplete="on">
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The Novalidate Attribute

The novalidate attribute is a boolean attribute.

When present, it specifies that the form-data (input) should not be validated when submitted.

Example

A form with a novalidate attribute:

<form action="/action_page.php" novalidate>
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HTML Exercises

Test Yourself With Exercises

Exercise:

Add a submit button, and specify that the form should go to "/action_page.php".

<form ="/action_page.php">
Name: <input type="text" name="name">
<>
</form>

Start the Exercise


List of All <form> Attributes

Attribute Description
accept-charset Specifies the character encodings used for form submission
action Specifies where to send the form-data when a form is submitted
autocomplete Specifies whether a form should have autocomplete on or off
enctype Specifies how the form-data should be encoded when submitting it to the server (only for method="post")
method Specifies the HTTP method to use when sending form-data
name Specifies the name of the form
novalidate Specifies that the form should not be validated when submitted
rel Specifies the relationship between a linked resource and the current document
target Specifies where to display the response that is received after submitting the form