Status: Level 1 - Proposed

The meta element is proposed to be used within the head element to embed document meta-information not defined by other HTML elements. Such information can be extracted by servers/clients for use in identifying, indexing, and cataloging specialized document meta-information.

Although it is generally preferable to use named elements which have well-defined semantics for each type of meta-information (e.g. title), this element is provided for situations where strict SGML parsing is necessary and the local DTD is not extensible.

In addition, HTTP servers can read the content of the document head to generate response headers corresponding to any elements defining a value for the attribute HTTP-EQUIV. This provides document authors a mechanism (not necessarily the preferred one) for identifying information which should be included in the response headers for an HTTP request.

The attributes of the meta element are:


This attribute binds the element to an HTTP response header. It means that if you know the semantics of the HTTP response header named by this attribute, then you can process the contents based on a well-defined syntactic mapping, whether or not your DTD tells you anything about it. HTTP header names are not case sensitive. If not present, the attribute name should be used to identify this meta-information and it should not be used within an HTTP response header.


Meta-information name. If not present, the name can be assumed equal to the value of http-equiv.


The meta-information content to be associated with the given name and/or HTTP response header.


If the document contains:

<expires http-equiv="Expires">Tue, 04 Dec 1993 21:29:02 GMT</expires>

<meta http-equiv="Keywords" content="Fred, Barney">
<meta http-equiv="Reply-to" content=" (Roy Fielding)">

Expires: Tue, 04 Dec 1993 21:29:02 GMT
Keywords: Fred, Barney
Reply-to: (Roy Fielding)

when the http-equiv attribute is not present, the server should not generate an HTTP response header for this meta-information; e.g.,

<meta name="IndexType" content="Service">

Do not use the meta element to define information that should be associated with an already existing HTML element. This is an inappropriate use of the meta element:

    <meta name="Title" content="The Etymology of Dunsel">

Do not name an http-equiv equal to a response header that should normally only be generated by the HTTP server. Example names that are inappropriate include "Server", "Date", and "Last-modified" -- the exact list of inappropriate names is dependent on the particular server implementation. It is recommended that servers ignore any meta elements which specify http-equivalents which are equal (case-insensitively) to their own reserved response headers.

Preceding Section:
defining instance
Following Section: Special Characters
Parent Section: Proposed HTML Features
Contents of HyperText Markup Language