HTML <cite> Tag

The HTML <cite> tag is used for representing a citation in an HTML document.

Text enclosed in <cite> tags is intended to represent the title of a work (e.g. a book, a paper, an essay, a poem, a score, a song, a script, a film, a TV show, a game, a sculpture, a painting, a theatre production, a play, an opera, a musical, an exhibition, etc).

Note that the HTML5 specification allows the <cite> to include people's names while the HTML Living Standard does not. For more information, see below under the heading "Differences Between HTML 4 & HTML 5".


The <cite> tag is written as <cite></cite> with the citation inserted between the start and end tags.

Like this:


Title of a Work

In this example, we use the <cite> element to cite the title of a piece of work that contains the quote. We use the <blockquote> tag to present the quote, and the <cite> tag to provide the source.

Author's Name

You can include the name of the author (whether it be a person, people, or organization) in your <cite> tag.

In this example we use the <q> tag to provide the quote, and the <cite> to provide the name of the author.

Important Note: This option is only supported in HTML5 (i.e. the W3C version of HTML). The HTML Living Standard (WHATWG) does not allow people's names to be included in the <cite> tag.


The <cite> tag can also contain a URL reference for the quote.


Attributes can be added to an HTML element to provide more information about how the element should appear or behave.

There are 3 kinds of attributes that you can add to your HTML tags: Element-specific, global, and event handler content attributes.

The <cite> element accepts the following attributes.

Element-Specific Attributes

This table shows the attributes that are specific to the <cite> tag/element.


Global Attributes

The following attributes are standard across all HTML5 elements. Therefore, you can use these attributes with the <cite> tag , as well as with all other HTML tags.

For a full explanation of these attributes, see HTML 5 global attributes.

Event Handler Content Attributes

Event handler content attributes enable you to invoke a script from within your HTML. The script is invoked when a certain "event" occurs. Each event handler content attribute deals with a different event.

Below are the standard HTML5 event handler content attributes.

Again, you can use any of these with the <cite> element, as well as any other HTML5 element.

For a full explanation of these attributes, see HTML 5 event handler content attributes.

Differences Between HTML 4 & HTML 5


However, there is a difference between HTML5 (W3C) and the HTML Living Standard (WHATWG). The HTML5 specification allows the <cite> element to contain the name of a person. The HTML Living Standard however, specifically states that the tag must not be used to mark up people's names.

For more info, check out the links to the official specifications below.

Also, to see more detail on the HTML5 and HTML 4 versions, see HTML5 <cite> Tag and HTML4 <cite> Tag.


Here's a template for the <cite> tag with all available attributes for the tag (based on HTML5). These are grouped into attribute types, each type separated by a space. In many cases, you will probably only need one or two (if any) attributes. Simply remove the attributes you don't need.

Note that the <cite> element does not actually have any local attributes (i.e. attributes that are specific to the element), but the following global attributes and event handlers are available to the element (and all other HTML elements).

For more information on attributes for this tag, see HTML5 <cite> Tag and HTML4 <cite> Tag.

Tag Details

For more details about the <cite> tag, see HTML5 <cite> Tag and HTML4 <cite> Tag.


Here are the official specifications for the <cite> element.

What's the Difference?

W3C creates "snapshot" specifications that don't change once defined. So the HTML5 specification won't change once it becomes an official recommendation. WHATWG on the other hand, develops a "living standard" that is updated on a regular basis. In general, you will probably find that the HTML living standard will be more closely aligned to the current W3C draft than to the HTML5 specification.