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

DFN - defining occurrence (Not in HTML 2.0!)


To indicate that a term (or phrase) appears in a context where it is defined.

Typical rendering

Obviously, the element should be presented with some kind of distinction from normal text, such as italic or bold italic (as the HTML 2.0 specification suggests). Unfortunately many browsers, including Netscape 4, do not effectively support it: they present DFN as normal text.

See also 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.


Example DFN-1.html:

<DFN>Ichthyology</DFN> is the branch of natural science which
studies fish.


Since current implementations do not effectively support DFN, as explained above, it is probably best to present defining occurrences using either EM or STRONG.

The HTML 2.0 specification does not include DFN but mentions it as an element which "has been deployed to some extent".

See also general remarks on phrase elements.

Date of last update: 2010-12-16.
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