HTML <pre> Tag

The HTML <pre> tag represents preformatted text in an HTML document.

Browsers normally render <pre> text in a fixed-pitched font, with whitespace in tact, and without word wrap.

The <pre> tag can be useful for displaying ASCII art, for displaying computer code, emails, etc.


The <pre> tag is written as <pre></pre> with the preformatted text inserted between the start and end tags.

Like this:


Basic tag usage


Here's an example of using the <pre> tag to display ASCII art.

Displaying Computer Code

Here are two examples; one with the <pre> tag, and one without the <pre> tag.

With the <pre> Tag

Here, we use the <pre> tag to display computer code. This is important, because, if we didn't use the <pre> tag, none of the line-breaks, or indents would be displayed - making it harder to read.

Without the <pre> Tag

Here's the same computer code, but this time we don't use the <pre> tag.


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.

The <pre> element accepts the following attributes.

Element-Specific Attributes

This table shows the attributes that are specific to the <pre> tag/element.


Global Attributes

The following attributes are standard across all HTML5 elements. Therefore, you can use these attributes with the <pre> 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 <pre> 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 & HTML 5

HTML5 does not support the width attribute, which was deprecated in HTML 4. Use the CSS width property instead.

To see more detail on the two versions see HTML5 <pre> Tag and HTML4 <pre> Tag. Also check out the links to the official specifications below.


Here's a template for the <pre> 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.

For more information on attributes for this tag, see HTML5 <pre> Tag and HTML4 <pre> Tag.

Tag Details

For more details about the <pre> tag, see HTML5 <pre> Tag and HTML4 <pre> Tag.


Here are the official specifications for the <pre> element.

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.