HTML <a> Tag
<a> tag is used for creating an
a element (also known as an "anchor" element).
a element represents a hyperlink. This is usually a link to another document.
You can use the
<a> tag to link text or images. You can also link a large block of content (even containing multiple elements) if required - it's not just restricted to hyperlinking single elements. However, there must be no "interactive content" descendant.
<a> tag is written as
<a href=""></a> with the linked URL between the double quotes of the
href attribute and the anchor text (i.e. the text that the user sees) between the start and end tags.
Basic tag usage
Open the link in a new window (or tab)
Here we use
target="_blank" to open the link in a new window.
Reload the new window
Here we open multiple links in a new window, but instead of a new window being opened with each link, a new window is opened with the first link, then the following links load their contents into that window.
We do this simply by giving the
target attribute a name that doesn't exist (i.e. we make up our own name for the window/tab).
Here we wrap the
<a> around an image to create a linked image.
Here we use
rel="nofollow" to create a "nofollow" link. This can be used to tell search engines that you don't endorse the content at the other end of the link. The
nofollow attribute value is typically used on paid links and advertising.
Many people refer to this as the "nofollow tag" but it's not actually a tag. It's not even an attribute (the attribute is
nofollow bit is simply a value of the
Attributes can be added to an HTML element to provide more information about how the element should appear or behave.
There are 3 kinds of attributes that you can add to your HTML tags: Element-specific, global, and event handler content attributes.
<a> element accepts the following attributes.
This table shows the attributes that are specific to the
|href||Specifies the URL of a page that the link goes to.|
|target||Specifies the target frame to load the page into. Only to be used when the
|download||Indicates that the link is to be used for downloading a resource (such as a file). The author can specify a default file name by providing a value. This attribute is optional.
[Default file name.] (optional)
|rel||Describes the relationship between the current document and the destination URI. Only to be used when the
|hreflang||Language code of the destination URL. Only to be used when the
|type||Specifies the MIME type of the linked resource. Only to be used when the
The following attributes are standard across all HTML5 elements. Therefore, you can use these attributes with the
<a> tag , as well as with all other HTML tags.
For a full explanation of these attributes, see HTML 5 global attributes.
Event Handler Content Attributes
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.
Below are the standard HTML5 event handler content attributes.
Again, you can use any of these with the
<a> element, as well as any other HTML5 element.
For a full explanation of these attributes, see HTML 5 event handler content attributes.
Differences Between HTML 4 & HTML5
- In HTML5, the
<a>can be a placeholder for a hyperlink. This occurs when you don't provide the
- HTML 4 restricts the
<a>element to containing only "phrasing content" (known as "inline content" in HTML 4 and lower). HTML5 has changed the
<a>element so that its content model is now "transparent". This allows the
<a>element to also contain "flow" content" (known as "block-level" content in previous versions), but there must be no "interactive content" descendant.
- A number of attributes are no longer supported in HTML5.
Here's a template for the
<a> tag with all available attributes for the tag (based on HTML5). These are grouped into attribute types, each type separated by a space. In many cases, you will probably only need one or two (if any) attributes. Simply remove the attributes you don't need.
Here are the official specifications for the
- HTML5 Specification (W3C)
- HTML Living Standard (WHATWG)
- Current W3C Draft (the next version that is currently being worked on)
- HTML 4 (W3C)
What's the Difference?
W3C creates "snapshot" specifications that don't change once defined. So the HTML5 specification won't change once it becomes an official recommendation. WHATWG on the other hand, develops a "living standard" that is updated on a regular basis. In general, you will probably find that the HTML living standard will be more closely aligned to the current W3C draft than to the HTML5 specification.