The HTML Citation element (<cite>) is used to describe a reference to a cited creative work, and must include either the title or the URL of that work. The reference may be in an abbreviated form according to context-appropriate conventions related to citation metadata.

Content categories Flow content, phrasing content, palpable content.
Permitted content Phrasing content.
Tag omission None, both the starting and ending tag are mandatory.
Permitted parents Any element that accepts phrasing content.
Permitted ARIA roles Any
DOM interface HTMLElement Up to Gecko 1.9.2 (Firefox 4) inclusive, Firefox implements the HTMLSpanElement interface for this element.


This element only includes the global attributes.

Usage notes

In the context of the <cite> element, a creative work that might be cited could be, for example, one of the following:

  • A book
  • A research paper
  • An essay
  • A poem
  • A musical score
  • A song
  • A play or film script
  • A film
  • A television show
  • A game
  • A sculpture
  • A painting
  • A theatrical production
  • A play
  • An opera
  • A musical
  • An exhibition
  • A legal case report
  • A computer program
  • A web site
  • A web page
  • A blog post or comment
  • A forum post or comment
  • A tweet
  • A Facebook post
  • A written or oral statement
  • And so forth.

It's worth noting that the W3C specification says that a reference to a creative work, as included within a <cite> element, may include the name of the work’s author. However, the WHATWG specification for <cite> says the opposite: that a person’s name must never be included, under any circumstances.

To include a reference to the source of quoted material which is contained within a <blockquote> or <q> element, use the cite attribute on the element.

Typically, browsers style the contents of a <cite> element in italics by default. To avoid this, apply the font-style property to the <cite> element.


<p>More information can be found in <cite>[ISO-0000]</cite>.</p>

The HTML above outputs:


Specification Status Comment
HTML Living Standard
The definition of '<cite>' in that specification.
Living Standard  
The definition of '<cite>' in that specification.
HTML 4.01 Specification
The definition of '<cite>' in that specification.

Browser compatibility

FeatureChromeEdgeFirefoxInternet ExplorerOperaSafari
Basic support Yes Yes1 Yes Yes Yes
FeatureAndroid webviewChrome for AndroidEdge mobileFirefox for AndroidOpera AndroidiOS SafariSamsung Internet
Basic support Yes Yes Yes4 Yes Yes Yes

See also

  • The element <blockquote> for long quotations.
  • The element <q> for inline quotations.