HTML: Container tags

HTML provides us with some tags we can use to group other tags together.

Suppose you want to group together a <p></p> and an <img />.

You can use <div></div>.

<div>
  <p>hello!</p>
  <img src="test.jpg" alt="an image" />
</div>

This is probably the most used tag.

div is the generic container element:

<div>
	...
</div>

It’s the one we use when we don’t have another dedicated container tag like article.

You often add a class or id attribute to this element, to allow it to be styled using CSS.

Other container tags exist.

We have section, article, header, aside, main, footer, nav.

Those are called semantic elements.

They do not have any special style applied, they all work like div but their name has a specific meaning attached.

Imagine you have a page with a heading part with the article title, the content of the article, and finally a footer.

You could write the HTML like this:

<div>
  <div class="header">
    <h1>Title</h1>
  </div>
  <div class="article">
    <p>Article content</p>
  </div>
  <div class="footer">
    <p>Some footer info</p>
  </div>
</div>

Or you can give those sections more meaning in this way, without using class attributes:

<section>
  <header>
    <h1>Title</h1>
  </header>
  <article>
    <p>Article content</p>
  </article>
  <footer>
    <p>Some footer info</p>
  </footer>
</section>

There is nothing inherently wrong about using <div>. Nothing changes from the visual point of view. But those tags have more meaning, and tools like screen readers can infer information from this meaning.

Let’s see when to use them.

article

The article tag identifies a thing that can be independent from other things in a page.

For example a list of blog posts in the homepage of a blog.


<article>
	<h2>A blog post</h2>
	<a href="/1">Read more</a>
</article>
<article>
	<h2>Another blog post</h2>
	<a href="/2">Read more</a>
</article>

An article can also be the main element in a page.

<article>
	<h2>A blog post</h2>
	<p>Here is the content...</p>
</article>

section

Represents a section of a long article. Each section has a heading tag (h1-h6), then the section content.

Example:

<article>
	<section>
		<h2>A section of the page</h2>
		<p>...</p>
		<img ...>
	</section>
	<section>
		<h2>Another section of the page</h2>
		<p>...</p>
	</section>
</article>

This tag is useful to break a long article into different sections.

This tag is used to create the markup that defines the page navigation. Into this we typically add an ul or ol list:

<nav>
	<ol>
		<li><a href="/">Home</a></li>
		<li><a href="/blog">Blog</a></li>
	</ol>
</nav>

aside

The aside tag is used to add a piece of content that is related to the main content.

A box where to add a quote, for example. Or a sidebar.

Example:

<div>
  <p>some text..</p>
  <aside>
    <p>A quote..</p>
  </aside>
  <p>other text...</p>
</div>

Using aside is a signal that the things it contains are not part of the regular flow of the section it lives into.

The header tag represents a part of the page that is the introduction. It can for example contain one or more heading tag (h1-h6), the tagline for the article, an image.

<article>
  <header>
	  <h1>Article title</h1>
  </header>
  ...
</article>

main

The main tag represents the main part of a page:

<body>
  ....
  <main>
    <p>....</p>
  </main>
</body>

The footer tag is used to determine the footer of an article, or the footer of the page:

<article>
 ....
  <footer>
    <p>Footer notes..</p>
  </footer>
</article>

Lessons in this unit:

0: Introduction
1: Your first HTML page
2: Text tags
3: Attributes
4: Links
5: Images
6: Lists
7: Head tags
8: ▶︎ Container tags
9: DEMO Using CodePen
10: DEMO Using VS Code
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