Semantic Element

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What Does Semantic Element Mean?

A semantic element is an element of code that uses words to clearly represent what that element contains, in human language. For practical purposes, many of those researching semantic elements are looking at English language words used for the purposes of semantic labeling.


Techopedia Explains Semantic Element

One of the most prominent examples of semantic elements is the HTML 5 programming language used to create Web pages. The original HTML had a number of semantic elements such as “link” and “img,” but also other elements that were non-semantic: “div” and “span” really do not tell the user what the element is, nor does something like “a” or “tr.” The non-semantic elements do not describe their contents in human language in the tags that developers use to implement them.

HTML 5 includes additional semantic elements new to HTML such as:

  • article
  • detail
  • figure
  • footer
  • header
  • main
  • mark
  • section
  • summary

The trend toward semantic code is meant to make it easier to read the source code of a page or project.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.