The HTML <dl> element represents a description list. The element encloses a list of groups of terms and descriptions. Common uses for this element are to implement a glossary or to display metadata (a list of key-value pairs).

Content categories Flow content, and if the <dl> element's children include one name-value group, palpable content.
Permitted content Zero or more groups each consisting of one or more <dt> elements followed by one or more <dd> elements, optionally intermixed with <script> and <template> elements.
Or (in WHATWG HTML): One or more <div> elements, optionally intermixed with <script> and <template> elements.
Tag omission None, both the starting and ending tag are mandatory.
Permitted parents Any element that accepts flow content.
Permitted ARIA roles group, presentation
DOM interface HTMLDListElement

Attributes

This element's attributes include the global attributes.

Examples

Single term and description

<dl>
  <dt>Firefox</dt>
  <dd>
    A free, open source, cross-platform,
    graphical web browser developed by the
    Mozilla Corporation and hundreds of
    volunteers.
  </dd>

  <!-- Other terms and descriptions -->
</dl>

Output:

Image:HTML-dl1.png

Multiple terms, single description

<dl>
  <dt>Firefox</dt>
  <dt>Mozilla Firefox</dt>
  <dt>Fx</dt>
  <dd>
    A free, open source, cross-platform,
    graphical web browser developed by the
    Mozilla Corporation and hundreds of
    volunteers.
  </dd>

  <!-- Other terms and descriptions -->
</dl>

Output:

Image:HTML-dl2.png

Single term, multiple descriptions

<dl>
  <dt>Firefox</dt>
  <dd>
    A free, open source, cross-platform,
    graphical web browser developed by the
    Mozilla Corporation and hundreds of
    volunteers.
  </dd>
  <dd>
    The Red Panda also known as the Lesser
    Panda, Wah, Bear Cat or Firefox, is a
    mostly herbivorous mammal, slightly larger
    than a domestic cat (60 cm long).
  </dd>

  <!-- Other terms and descriptions -->
</dl>

Output:

Image:HTML-dl3.png

Multiple terms and descriptions

It is also possible to define multiple terms with multiple corresponding descriptions, by combining the examples above.

Metadata

Description lists are useful for displaying metadata as a list of key-value pairs.

<dl>
  <dt>Name</dt>    
  <dd>Godzilla</dd>
  <dt>Born</dt>
  <dd>1952</dd>
  <dt>Birthplace</dt>
  <dd>Japan</dd>
  <dt>Color</dt>
  <dd>Green</dd>
</dl>

Tip: It can be handy to define a key-value separator in the CSS, such as:

dt::after {
  content: ": ";
}

Wrapping name-value groups in <div> elements

WHATWG HTML allows wrapping each name-value group in a <dl> element in a <div> element. This can be useful when using microdata, or when global attributes apply to a whole group, or for styling purposes.

<dl>
  <div>
    <dt>Name</dt>
    <dd>Godzilla</dd>
  </div>
  <div>
    <dt>Born</dt>
    <dd>1952</dd>
  </div>
  <div>
    <dt>Birthplace</dt>
    <dd>Japan</dd>
  </div>
  <div>
    <dt>Color</dt>
    <dd>Green</dd>
  </div>
</dl>

Notes

Do not use this element (nor <ul> elements) to merely create indentation on a page. Although it works, this is a bad practice and obscures the meaning of description lists.

To change the indentation of a description term, use the CSS margin property.

Specifications

Specification Status Comment
HTML Living Standard
The definition of '<dl>' in that specification.
Living Standard  
HTML5
The definition of '<dl>' in that specification.
Recommendation  
HTML 4.01 Specification
The definition of '<dl>' in that specification.
Recommendation Initial definition

Browser compatibility

FeatureChromeEdgeFirefoxInternet ExplorerOperaSafari
Basic Support (Yes) (Yes)1 (Yes) (Yes) (Yes)
FeatureAndroidChrome for AndroidEdge mobileFirefox for AndroidIE mobileOpera AndroidiOS Safari
Basic Support (Yes) (Yes) (Yes)1 (Yes) (Yes) (Yes)

See also