HTML <code> Tag

The HTML <code> tag represents a fragment of computer code.

The code fragment could be an XML element name, a filename, a computer program, or any other string that a computer would recognize.

Browsers usually display <code> content in a monospace font (also called a fixed-width or non-proportional font) such as Courier (unless style sheets have been used to specify a different font).


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

Like this:


Basic tag usage

You can insert short fragments of code within a paragraph or any other text.

Displaying HTML Code

A common usage of the <code> is to display HTML code within a web page. To display HTML code, you need to use the correct HTML entities to ensure the HTML code is actually displayed (and not rendered) by the browser.

Specifically, you need to use &lt; in place of the less-than symbol (<) and &gt; in place of the greater-than symbol (>).

Like this:

Multiple Lines

Multiple lines of code can be marked up by surrounding the <code> tags with <pre> tags.

Without the <pre> Tag

Here's an example of what happens if you don't include the <pre> tag when working with multiple lines.

With the <pre> Tag

And here it is after adding the <pre> tag.

Specifying the Computer Language

There is no formal way to specify the langauge of the computer code contained within the <code> tags. The HTML specification recommends specifying the language using the class attribute. For example, by using a prefix such as language- to the class name.

In this example we use class="language-javascript" to specify the programming language used.


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 <code> element accepts the following attributes.

Element-Specific Attributes

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


Global Attributes

The following attributes are standard across all HTML5 elements. Therefore, you can use these attributes with the <code> 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 <code> 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


To see more detail on the two versions see HTML5 <code> Tag and HTML4 <code> Tag. Also check out the links to the official specifications below.


Here's a template for the <code> 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 <code> 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 <code> Tag and HTML4 <code> Tag.

Tag Details

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


Here are the official specifications for the <code> 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.