HTML <nav> Tag

The HTML <nav> tag represents a navigational section of the HTML document.

A navigational section is a section of a document that links to other documents or to parts within the document.

The <nav> element is primarily intended for sections that consist of major navigation blocks (such as sitewide navigation etc). Links such as the terms of service, the home page, and a copyright page don't need to be enclosed in <nav> tags. These types of links often appear in the footer section of the document. If so, marking them up inside <footer> tags is sufficient (i.e. no need to enclose them in <nav> tags).


The <nav> tag is written as <nav></nav> with the navigation content inserted between the start and end tags.

Like this:


Basic Tag Context

Here are two examples that demonstrate where the <nav> element can go within an HTML document. These are simply examples, the element is not restricted to these contexts. The <nav> element can appear anywhere that "flow content" is expected (basically, anywhere within the <body> element).

Inside a <header> Element

In this example, the <nav> element appears within the <header> element.

Anywhere With the <body> Element

In this example, the <nav> element appears on its own within the body of an HTML document. As mentioned, the <nav> can appear anywhere that "flow content" is expected, which is basically anywhere within the <body> element.


Navigation items that appear as a list should still be included within an HTML list. Here, the navigation items appear within a <ul> element that is inside a <nav> element.

Adding Styles

Navigational lists can be styled so that they appear more like navigation than a bullet list.

Here, we use CSS to apply styles to the elements that are inside the <nav> 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 <nav> element accepts the following attributes.

Element-Specific Attributes

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


Global Attributes

The following attributes are standard across all HTML5 elements. Therefore, you can use these attributes with the <nav> 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 <nav> 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 <nav> tag was introduced in HTML5.

For more information on this element, see HTML5 <nav> Tag. Also check out the links to the official specifications below.


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

Tag Details

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


Here are the official specifications for the <nav> 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.