HTML <figure> Tag

The HTML <figure> tag represents flow content that is self-contained and is typically referenced as a single unit from the main flow of the document.

The <figure> tag can be used for annotating illustrations, diagrams, photos, code listings, etc.

The HTML5 specification advises:

Self-contained in this context does not necessarily mean independent. For example, each sentence in a paragraph is self-contained; an image that is part of a sentence would be inappropriate for figure, but an entire sentence made of images would be fitting.


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

You can use the <figcaption> element to provide a caption for the contents of a <figure> element.

If used, the <figcaption> tag is placed either as the first child or last child of its parent <figure> tag.

Like this:

Or this:


Basic tag usage

Here, the <figure> tag is used to markup a fragment of sample code. In this instance, the <figcaption> tag is placed as the first child of the <figure> element.


You can also use the <figure> to markup images. But not just any image. If the image is self-contained, then it is suitable for use within the <figure> element. For example, the main image in an image gallery is an ideal candidate for the <figure> element. Charts or diagrams are also good candidates for use with the <figure> tag, as long as they're part of the normal flow of the content.

It's OK to place more than one image into a <figure> element, as long as the whole group is self-contained content.

Here's an example of marking up an image with the <figure> tag:


Poems and lyrics could also be marked up with the <figure> tag. Notice that the <cite> element is inside the <figcaption> element.


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 <figure> element accepts the following attributes.

Element-Specific Attributes

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


Global Attributes

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

The <figure> tag is new in HTML5.

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


Here's a template for the <figure> 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 <figure> 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 <figure> Tag.

Tag Details

For more details about the <figure> tag, see HTML5 <figure> Tag.


Here are the official specifications for the <figure> 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.