Every HTML element is a member of some number of content categories that group elements that share a set of characteristics together. This is a loose grouping, in that it doesn't actually create a relationship among elements of these types, but it does help to define and describe their behavior and the associated rules they must abide by, especially when you come upon their intricate details. It's also possible for elements to not be a member of any of these categories.

There are three types of content categories:

  • Main content categories, which describe common content rules shared by many elements;
  • Form-related content categories, which describe content rules common to form-related elements;
  • Specific content categories, which describe rare categories shared only by a few elements, sometimes only in a specific context.

Note : A more detailed discussion of these content categories and their comparative functionalities is beyond the scope of this article; for that, you may wish to read the relevant portions of the HTML specification.

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Main content categories

Metadata content

Elements belonging to the metadata content category modify the presentation or the behavior of the rest of the document, set up links to other documents, or convey other out of band information.

Elements belonging to this category are <base>, <command>, <link>, <meta>, <noscript>, <script>, <style> and <title>.

Flow content

Elements belonging to the flow content category typically contain text or embedded content. They are: <a>, <abbr>, <address>, <article>, <aside>, <audio>, <b>,<bdo>, <bdi>, <blockquote>, <br>, <button>, <canvas>, <cite>, <code>, <command>, <data>, <datalist>, <del>, <details>, <dfn>, <div>, <dl>, <em>, <embed>, <fieldset>, <figure>, <footer>, <form>, <h1>, <h2>, <h3>, <h4>, <h5>, <h6>, <header>, <hgroup>, <hr>, <i>, <iframe>, <img>, <input>, <ins>, <kbd>, <keygen>, <label>, <main>, <map>, <mark>, <math>, <menu>, <meter>, <nav>, <noscript>, <object>, <ol>, <output>, <p>, <pre>, <progress>, <q>, <ruby>, <s>, <samp>, <script>, <section>, <select>, <small>, <span>, <strong>, <sub>, <sup>, <svg>, <table>, <template>, <textarea>, <time>, <ul>, <var>, <video>, <wbr> and Text.

A few other elements belong to this category, but only if a specific condition is fulfilled:

Sectioning content

Elements belonging to the sectioning content model create a section in the current outline that defines the scope of  <header> elements, <footer> elements, and heading content.

Elements belonging to this category are <article>, <aside>, <nav> and <section>

Note: Do not confuse this content model with the sectioning root category, which isolates its content from the regular outline.

Heading content

Heading content defines the title of a section, whether marked by an explicit sectioning content element or implicitly defined by the heading content itself.

Elements belonging to this category are <h1>, <h2>, <h3>, <h4>, <h5>, <h6> and <hgroup>.

Note: Though likely to contain some heading content, the <header> is not heading content itself

Note:  <hgroup> is deleted from W3C recommended document.

Phrasing content

Phrasing content defines the text and the mark-up it contains. Runs of phrasing content make up paragraphs.

Elements belonging to this category are <abbr>, <audio>, <b>, <bdo>, <br>, <button>, <canvas>, <cite>, <code>, <command>, <data>, <datalist>, <dfn>, <em>, <embed>, <i>, <iframe>, <img>, <input>, <kbd>, <keygen>, <label>, <mark>, <math>, <meter>, <noscript>, <object>, <output>, <progress>, <q>, <ruby>, <samp>, <script>, <select>, <small>, <span>, <strong>, <sub>, <sup>, <svg>, <textarea>, <time>, <var>, <video>, <wbr> and plain text (not only consisting of white spaces characters).

A few other elements belong to this category, but only if a specific condition is fulfilled:

  • <a>, if it contains only phrasing content
  • <area>, if it is a descendant of a <map> element
  • <del>, if it contains only phrasing content
  • <ins>, if it contains only phrasing content
  • <link>, if the itemprop attribute is present
  • <map>, if it contains only phrasing content
  • <meta>, if the itemprop attribute is present

Embedded content

Embedded content imports another resource or inserts content from another mark-up language or namespace into the document. Elements that belong to this category include: <audio>, <canvas>, <embed>, <iframe>, <img>, <math>, <object>, <svg>, <video>.

Interactive content

Interactive content includes elements that are specifically designed for user interaction. Elements that belong to this category include: <a>, <button>, <details>, <embed>, <iframe>, <keygen>, <label>, <select>, and <textarea>.
Some elements belong to this category only under specific conditions:

Palpable content

Content is palpable when it's neither empty or hidden; it is content that is rendered and is substantive. Elements whose model is flow content or phrasing content should have at least one node which is palpable.

Form-associated content

Form-associated content comprises elements that have a form owner, exposed by a form attribute. A form owner is either the containing <form> element or the element whose id is specified in the form attribute.

 This category contains several sub-categories:

listed
Elements that are listed in the form.elements and fieldset.elements IDL collections. Contains <button>, <fieldset>, <input>, <keygen>, <object>, <output>, <select>, and <textarea>.
labelable
Elements that can be associated with <label> elements. Contains <button>, <input>, <keygen>, <meter>, <output>, <progress>, <select>, and <textarea>.
submittable
Elements that can be used for constructing the form data set when the form is submitted. Contains <button>, <input>, <keygen>, <object>, <select>, and <textarea>.
resettable
Elements that can be affected when a form is reset. Contains <input>, <keygen>, <output>,<select>, and <textarea>.

Secondary categories

There are some secondary classifications of elements that can be useful to be aware of as well.

Script-supporting elements

Script-supporting elements are elements which don't directly contribute to the rendered output of a document. Instead, they serve to support scripts, either by containing or specifying script code directly, or by specifying data that will be used by scripts.

The script-supporting elements are:

Transparent content model

If an element has a transparent content model, then its contents must be structured such that they would be valid HTML 5, even if the transparent element were removed and replaced by the child elements.

For example, the <del> and <ins> elements are transparent:

<p>We hold these truths to be <del><em>sacred &amp; undeniable</em></del> <ins>self-evident</ins>.</p>

If those elements were removed, this fragment would still be valid HTML (if not correct English).

<p>We hold these truths to be <em>sacred &amp; undeniable</em> self-evident.</p>

Other content models

Sectioning root.

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 Last updated by: VynceMontgomery,