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Microformats (sometimes abbreviated μF) are conventions used to embed semantics in HTML and provide an API to be used by search engines, aggregators, and other tools. These minimal patterns of HTML are used for marking entities that range from fundamental to domain-specific information, such as people, organizations, events, and locations.

Microformats are supported by all major search engines. The data is carried in the class property that can be added to any HTML element. In addition to being machine-readable, their format is designed to be easily read by humans.

There are parsing libraries for most languages for microformats2.

How do Microformats Work?

An author of a webpage can add microformats to their HTML. For example if they wanted to identify themselves they could use an h-card such as:

<a class="h-card" href="http://example.com">Joe Bloggs</a>

When a parser encounters this data, it will know that this page contains a "card" which describes a person or organization named Joe Blogger with a URL of http://example.com/. The parser makes this data available via APIs that can be used for different applications.

As in this example, some markup patterns require only a single microformat root class name, which parsers use to find a few generic properties such as name, url, photo.

Microformats Prefixes

All microformats consist of a root, and a collection of properties. Properties are all optional and potentially multivalued - applications needing a singular value may use the first instance of a property. Hierarchical data is represented with nested microformats, typically as property values themselves.

All microformats class names use prefixes. Prefixes are syntax independent from vocabularies, which are developed separately.

  • "h-*" for root class names, e.g. "h-card", "h-entry", "h-feed", and many more. These top-level root classes usually indicate a type and corresponding expected vocabulary of properties. For example:
  • "p-*" for plain (text) properties, e.g. "p-name", "p-summary"
    • Generic plain text parsing, element text in general. On certain HTML elements, use special attributes first, e.g. img/alt, abbr/title.
  • "u-*" for URL properties, e.g. "u-url", "u-photo", "u-logo"
    • Special parsing required: prefer a/href, img/src, object/data etc. attributes over element contents.
  • "dt-*" for datetime properties, e.g. "dt-start", "dt-end", "dt-bday"
    • Special parsing required: value-class-pattern and separate date time value parsing for readability.
  • "e-*" for element tree properties where the entire contained element hierarchy is the value, e.g. "e-content". The "e-" prefix can also be mnemonically remembered as "element tree", "embedded markup", or "encapsulated markup".

Some microformats examples

h-card

The h-card microformat represents a a person or organization.

The value of each property is defined in HTML using the class property any element can carry

Example h-card

<p class="h-card">
  <img class="u-photo" src="http://example.org/photo.png" alt="" />
  <a class="p-name u-url" href="http://example.org">Joe Bloggs</a>
  <a class="u-email" href="mailto:joebloggs@example.com">joebloggs@example.com</a>, 
  <span class="p-street-address">17 Austerstræti</span>
  <span class="p-locality">Reykjavík</span>
  <span class="p-country-name">Iceland</span>
</p>
Property Description
p-name The full/formatted name of the person or organization.
u-email email address
u-photo a photo of the person or organization
u-url home page or other URL representing the person or organization
u-uid universally unique identifier, preferably canonical URL
p-street-address street number + name
p-locality city/town/village
p-country-name country name

Nested h-card example

<div class="h-card">
  <a class="p-name u-url"
   href="http://blog.lizardwrangler.com/" 
  >Mitchell Baker</a> 
  (<a class="p-org h-card" 
    href="http://mozilla.org/"
   >Mozilla Foundation</a>)
</div>

Parsed JSON:

{
  "items": [{ 
  "type": ["h-card"],
  "properties": {
    "name": ["Mitchell Baker"],
    "url": ["http://blog.lizardwrangler.com/"],
    "org": [{
    "value": "Mozilla Foundation",
    "type": ["h-card"],
    "properties": {
      "name": ["Mozilla Foundation"],
      "url": ["http://mozilla.org/"]
    }
    }]
  }
  }]
}

Note: the nested h-card has implied 'name' and 'url' properties, just like any other root-class-name-only h-card on an <a href> would.

h-entry

The h-entry microformat represents episodic or datestamped content on the web. h-entry is often used with content intended to be syndicated, e.g. blog posts.

Example h-entry as a blog post:

<article class="h-entry">
  <h1 class="p-name">Microformats are amazing</h1>
  <p>Published by <a class="p-author h-card" href="http://example.com">W. Developer</a>
   on <time class="dt-published" datetime="2013-06-13 12:00:00">13<sup>th</sup> June 2013</time></p>
 
  <p class="p-summary">In which I extoll the virtues of using microformats.</p>
 
  <div class="e-content">
  <p>Blah blah blah</p>
  </div>
</article>

Properties

Property Description
p-name entry name/title
p-author who wrote the entry, optionally embedded h-card
dt-published when the entry was published
p-summary short entry summary
e-content full content of the entry

Parsed reply h-entry example

<div class="h-entry">
  <p><span class="p-author h-card">
    <a href="https://quickthoughts.jgregorymcverry.com/profile/jgmac1106" ><img class="u-photo" src="https://quickthoughts.jgregorymcverry.com/file/2d6c9cfed7ac8e849f492b5bc7e6a630/thumb.jpg"/></a>
    <a class="p-name u-url" href="https://quickthoughts.jgregorymcverry.com/profile/jgmac1106">Greg McVerry</a></span>
     Replied to <a class="u-in-reply-to" href="https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/HTML/microformats">a post on
   <strong>developer.mozilla.org</strong> </a>:
  </p>           
   <p class="p-name e-content">Hey thanks for making this microformats resource</p>   
   <p> <a href="https://quickthoughts.jgregorymcverry.com/profile/jgmac1106">Greg McVerry</a>
  published this <a class="u-url url" href="https://quickthoughts.jgregorymcverry.com/2019/05/31/hey-thanks-for-making-this-microformats-resource"><time class="dt-published"
   datetime="2019-05-31T14:19:09+0000">31 May 2019</time></a></p>
</div>
{
  "items": [
    {
      "type": [ "h-entry" ],
      "properties": {
        "in-reply-to": [ "https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/HTML/microformats" ],
        "name": [ "Hey thanks for making this microformats resource" ],
        "url": [ "https://quickthoughts.jgregorymcverry.com/2019/05/31/hey-thanks-for-making-this-microformats-resource" ],
        "published": [ "2019-05-31T14:19:09+0000" ],
        "content": [
          {
            "html": "Hey thanks for making this microformats resource",
            "value": "Hey thanks for making this microformats resource",
            "lang": "en"
          }
        ],
        "author": [
          {
            "type": [ "h-card" ],
            "properties": {
              "name": [ "Greg McVerry" ],
              "photo": [ "https://quickthoughts.jgregorymcverry.com/file/2d6c9cfed7ac8e849f492b5bc7e6a630/thumb.jpg" ],
              "url": [ "https://quickthoughts.jgregorymcverry.com/profile/jgmac1106" ]
            },
            "lang": "en",
            "value": "Greg McVerry"
          }
        ]
      },
      "lang": "en"
    }

h-feed

The h-feed is a stream or feed of h-entry posts, like complete posts on a home page or archive pages, or summaries or other brief lists of posts

Example h-feed

<div class="h-feed">
  <h1 class="p-name">Microformats Blogs</h1>
  <article class="h-entry">
  <h2 class="p-name">Microformats are amazing</h2>
  <p>Published by <a class="p-author h-card" href="http://example.com">W. Developer</a>
     on <time class="dt-published" datetime="2013-06-13 12:00:00">13<sup>th</sup> June 2013</time>
  </p>
  <p class="p-summary">In which I extoll the virtues of using microformats.</p>
  <div class="e-content"> <p>Blah blah blah</p> </div>
  </article>
</div>

Properties

Property Description
p-name name of the feed
p-author author of the feed, optionally embed an h-card

Children

Nested h-entry
objects representing the items of the feed

h-event

The h-event is for events on the web. h-event is often used with both event listings and individual event pages

<div class="h-event">
  <h1 class="p-name">Microformats Meetup</h1>
  <p>From 
  <time class="dt-start" datetime="2013-06-30 12:00">30<sup>th</sup> June 2013, 12:00</time>
  to <time class="dt-end" datetime="2013-06-30 18:00">18:00</time>
  at <span class="p-location">Some bar in SF</span></p>
  <p class="p-summary">Get together and discuss all things microformats-related.</p>
</div>

Properties

Property Description
p-name event name (or title)
p-summary short summary of the event
dt-start datetime the event starts
dt-end datetime the event ends
p-location where the event takes place, optionally embedded h-card

Parsed h-event Example

<div class="h-event">
  <h2 class="p-name">IndieWeb Summit</h2>
  <time class="dt-start" datetime="2019-06-29T09:00:00-07:00">June 29, 2019 at 9:00am  (-0700)</time><br>through <time class="dt-end" datetime="2019-06-30T18:00:00-07:00">June 30, 2019 at 6:00pm (-0700)</time><br>
  <div class="p-location h-card">
    <div>
    <span class="p-name">Mozilla</span>
     </div>
     <div>
      <span class="p-street-address">1120 NW Couch St</span>,
      <span class="p-locality">Portland</span>,
      <span class="p-region">Oregon</span>,
      <span class="p-country">US</span>
     </div>
       <data class="p-latitude" value="45.52345"></data>
      <data class="p-longitude" value="-122.682677"></data>
  </div>
    <div class="e-content">Come join us
     </div>
    <div>
     <span class="p-author h-card"><a class="u-url p-name" href="https://aaronparecki.com">Aaron Parecki</a></span> Published this <a href="https://aaronparecki.com/2019/06/29/1/" class="u-url">event </a>on <time class="dt published" datetime="2019-05-25T18:00:00-07:00">May 5th, 2019</time>
    </div>
</div>
{
  "items": [
    {
      "type": [ "h-event" ],
      "properties": {
        "name": [ "IndieWeb Summit" ],
        "url": [ "https://aaronparecki.com/2019/06/29/1/" ],
        "author": [
          {
            "type": [ "h-card" ],
            "properties": {
              "name": [ "Aaron Parecki" ],
              "url": [ "https://aaronparecki.com"]
            },
            "lang": "en",
            "value": "Aaron Parecki"
          }
        ],
        "start": [ "2019-06-29T09:00:00-07:00" ],
        "end": [ "2019-06-30T18:00:00-07:00" ],
        "published": [ "2019-05-25T18:00:00-07:00" ],
        "content": [
          {
            "html": "Come join us",
            "value": "Come join us",
            "lang": "en"
          }
        ],
        "location": [
          {
            "type": [ "h-card" ],
            "properties": {
              "name": [ "Mozilla" ],
              p-street-address: [ "1120 NW Couch St" ]
              "locality": [ "Portland" ],
              "region": [ "Oregon" ],
              "country": [ "US" ],
              "latitude": [ "45.52345" ],
              "longitude": [ "-122.682677" ]
            },
            "lang": "en",
            "value": "Mozilla"
          }
        ]
      },
      "lang": "en"
    }
  ],

See also