HTML <span> Tag

The HTML <span> tag represents its children for the purposes of applying global attributes.

The <span> is commonly used for applying styles, but can also be useful for specifying a language, or specifying text direction, etc.


The <span> tag is written as <span></span> with any children nested between the start and end tags.

The <span> tag will normally have an attribute, because the <span> element doesn't actually mean anything on its own. Probably the most common attribute to use with the <span> tag is the class attribute, which allows you to associate the element with styles from a style sheet.

Like this:


The style Attribute

Here, we use the <span> tag and the style attribute to apply inline styles to some content.

The class Attribute

Here, we use the <span> tag and the class attribute to apply styles from an embedded style sheet to various words within a <blockquote> element.


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 <span> element accepts the following attributes.

Element-Specific Attributes

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


Global Attributes

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


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


Here's a template for the <span> 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 <span> Tag and HTML4 <span> Tag.

Tag Details

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


Here are the official specifications for the <span> 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.