Simon Willison’s Weblog


HTML Definition Lists

17th June 2003

Ben Meadowcroft has a new tutorial up showing how definition lists can be used in semantic markup for lists of definitions, such as glossaries.

Definition Lists are the third type of list present in HTML, after the far more common ordered and unordered list types. They’re an interesting if slightly odd concept: although their obvious use is to provide a list of definitions, the HTML specification seems to indicate that they can also be used to indicate a logical connection between two items of text; one a label for the other. This slight confusion is caused by the examples provided in the specification, which use a definition list both for separating the different sections of a recipe and for extending a set of key marketing features for an imaginary product.

Incidentally, although the default style for a definition list is to have the definitions indented to the right of the terms, this can be easily modified by setting the margin and padding for the elements explicitly using CSS.

This is HTML Definition Lists by Simon Willison, posted on 17th June 2003.

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