HTML <th> Tag

The HTML <th> tag is used for specifying a header cell (or table header) within a table.

This tag must be nested inside a <tr> tag, which in turn must also be nested correctly. You can find out more by viewing the <table> tag specifications.

Also see the <td> tag for declaring table data.



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 <th> element accepts the following attributes.

Element-Specific Attributes

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

colspanSpecifies the number of columns the current cell spans across.
rowspanSpecifies the number of rows the current cell spans across.
headersSpecifies a space-separated list of header cells that contain information about this cell. The value needs to correspond with the id of the header cell (which is set using the id attribute). This attribute is useful for non-visual browsers.
scopeThis attribute is used on header cells and specifies the cells that will use this header's information.

Possible values:

  • row (current row)
  • col (current column)
  • rowgroup (current rowgroup)
  • colgroup (current column group)
abbrSpecifies an alternative label for the header cell. For example, this could be an abbreviated form of the full header cell, an expansion, or different phrasing.

Global Attributes

The following attributes are standard across all HTML5 elements. Therefore, you can use these attributes with the <th> 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 <th> 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 <th> Tag and HTML4 <th> Tag. Also check out the links to the official specifications below.


Here's a template for the <th> 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.

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

Tag Details

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


Here are the official specifications for the <th> 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.