<nav>: The Navigation Section element

The <nav> HTML element represents a section of a page whose purpose is to provide navigation links, either within the current document or to other documents. Common examples of navigation sections are menus, tables of contents, and indexes.

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This element only includes the global attributes.

Usage notes

  • It's not necessary for all links to be contained in a <nav> element. <nav> is intended only for a major block of navigation links; typically the <footer> element often has a list of links that don't need to be in a <nav> element.
  • A document may have several <nav> elements, for example, one for site navigation and one for intra-page navigation. aria-labelledby can be used in such case to promote accessibility, see example.
  • User agents, such as screen readers targeting disabled users, can use this element to determine whether to omit the initial rendering of navigation-only content.


In this example, a <nav> block is used to contain an unordered list (<ul>) of links. With appropriate CSS, this can be presented as a sidebar, navigation bar, or drop-down menu.

<nav class="menu">
    <li><a href="#">Home</a></li>
    <li><a href="#">About</a></li>
    <li><a href="#">Contact</a></li>

The semantics of the nav element is that of providing links. However a nav element doesn't have to contain a list, it can contain other kinds of content as well. In this navigation block, links are provided in prose:

    You are on my home page. To the north lies <a href="/blog">my blog</a>, from
    whence the sounds of battle can be heard. To the east you can see a large
    mountain, upon which many <a href="/school">school papers</a> are littered.
    Far up this mountain you can spy a little figure who appears to be me,
    desperately scribbling a <a href="/school/thesis">thesis</a>.
    To the west are several exits. One fun-looking exit is labeled
    <a href="https://games.example.com/">"games"</a>. Another more
    boring-looking exit is labeled <a href="https://isp.example.net/">ISP™</a>.
    To the south lies a dark and dank <a href="/about">contacts page</a>.
    Cobwebs cover its disused entrance, and at one point you see a rat run
    quickly out of the page.


Technical summary

Content categories Flow content, sectioning content, palpable content.
Permitted content Flow content.
Tag omission None, both the starting and ending tag are mandatory.
Permitted parents Any element that accepts flow content.
Implicit ARIA role navigation
Permitted ARIA roles No role permitted
DOM interface HTMLElement


HTML Standard
# the-nav-element

Browser compatibility

BCD tables only load in the browser

See also