Learning HTML 3.2 by Examples, section 5 Descriptions of HTML 3.2 tags:

CITE - citations


To present a citation or reference to other sources, such as a book title. See notes below.

Typical rendering

In italics. When such rendering is impossible, a browser might use underlining (Lynx does so) or quotes around the citation. See general notes on rendering markup.

Basic syntax


Possible attributes


Allowed context

Text container, i.e. any element that may contain text elements. This includes most HTML elements. In particular, text elements can be nested.


Text elements. Notice that this disallows e.g. paragraph breaks.


A simple example, referring to a book by its title:

Example CITE-1.html:

I learned this from <CITE>The Origin of Species</CITE>.


On the basic nature of CITE: There are different opinions and practices on whether CITE is to be used for such citations as titles of books only or for quoting sentences or words in general. The official documents are laconic: for example, HTML 3.2 Reference Specification says that CITE is "used for citations or references to other sources". Typically dictionaries say that citation is roughly synonymous with quotation. However, the intended interpretation seems to be that CITE is for the names of external sources (books, articles, documents etc), not for actual extracts (quotations) from them.

Accepting this, the question arises how quotations are to be presented within text. (For quotations to be presented as separate paragraphs, or even sequences of paragraphs, BLOCKQUOTE is the natural choice.) You can either use quotation marks according to the rules of the language in which your own document is written, or some other suitable method, such as italics, i.e. the I element. The latter is often suitable for very short (e.g. single-word) quotations.

Date of last update: 2010-12-16.
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