HTML5 Features, Tips, and Techniques you Must Know

HTML5 Features, Tips, and Techniques you Must Know

This industry moves fast — really fast! If you’re not careful, you’ll be left in its dust. So, if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed with the coming changes/updates in HTML5, use this as a primer of the things you must know.

1. New Doctype

Still using that pesky, impossible-to-memorize XHTML doctype?

If so, why? Switch to the new HTML5 doctype. You’ll live longer — as Douglas Quaid might say.

In fact, did you know that it truthfully isn’t even really necessary for HTML5? However, it’s used for current, and older browsers that require a specified doctype. Browsers that do not understand this doctype will simply render the contained markup in standards mode. So, without worry, feel free to throw caution to the wind, and embrace the new HTML5 doctype.

2. The Figure Element

Consider the following mark-up for an image:

There unfortunately isn’t any easy or semantic way to associate the caption, wrapped in a paragraph tag, with the image element itself. HTML5 rectifies this, with the introduction of the <figure> element. When combined with the <figcaption> element, we can now semantically associate captions with their image counterparts.

3. <small> Redefined

Not long ago, I utilized the <small> element to create subheadings that are closely related to the logo. It’s a useful presentational element; however, now, that would be an incorrect usage. The small element has been redefined, more appropriately, to refer to small print. Imagine a copyright statement in the footer of your site; according to the new HTML5 definition of this element; the <small> would be the correct wrapper for this information.

4. No More Types for Scripts and Links

You possibly still add the type attribute to your link and script tags.

This is no longer necessary. It’s implied that both of these tags refer to stylesheets and scripts, respectively. As such, we can remove the type attribute all together.

5. To Quote or Not to Quote.

…That is the question. Remember, HTML5 is not XHTML. You don’t have to wrap your attributes in quotation marks if you don’t want to you. You don’t have to close your elements. With that said, there’s nothing wrong with doing so, if it makes you feel more comfortable. I find that this is true for myself.

Make up your own mind on this one. If you prefer a more structured document, by all means, stick with the quotes.

6. Make your Content Editable

The new browsers have a nifty new attribute that can be applied to elements, called contenteditable. As the name implies, this allows the user to edit any of the text contained within the element, including its children. There are a variety of uses for something like this, including an app as simple as a to-do list, which also takes advantage of local storage.

Or, as we learned in the previous tip, we could write it as:

7. Email Inputs

If we apply a type of “email” to form inputs, we can instruct the browser to only allow strings that conform to a valid email address structure. That’s right; built-in form validation will soon be here! We can’t 100% rely on this just yet, for obvious reasons. In older browsers that do not understand this “email” type, they’ll simply fall back to a regular textbox.

It should also be noted that all the current browsers are a bit wonky when it comes to what elements and attributes they do and don’t support. For example, Opera seems to support email validation, just as long as the name attribute is specified. However, it does not support the placeholder attribute, which we’ll learn about in the next tip. Bottom line, don’t depend on this form of validation just yet…but you can still use it!

8. Placeholders

Before, we had to utilize a bit of JavaScript to create placeholders for textboxes. Sure, you can initially set the value attribute how you see fit, but, as soon as the user deletes that text and clicks away, the input will be left blank again. The placeholder attribute remedies this.

Again, support is shady at best across browsers, however, this will continue to improve with every new release. Besides, if the browser, like Firefox and Opera, don’t currently support the placeholder attribute, no harm done.

9. Internet Explorer and HTML5

Unfortunately, that dang Internet Explorer requires a bit of wrangling in order to understand the new HTML5 elements.

In order to ensure that the new HTML5 elements render correctly as block level elements, it’s necessary at this time to style them as such.

Unfortunately, Internet Explorer will still ignore these stylings, because it has no clue what, as an example, the header element even is. Luckily, there is an easy fix:

Strangely enough, this code seems to trigger Internet Explorer. To simply this process for each new application, Remy Sharp created a script, commonly referred to as the HTML5 shiv. This script also fixes some printing issues as well.

10. hgroup

Imagine that, in my site’s header, I had the name of my site, immediately followed by a subheading. While we can use an <h1> and <h2> tag, respectively, to create the mark-up, there still wasn’t, as of HTML4, an easy way to semantically illustrate the relationship between the two. Additionally, the use of an h2 tag presents more problems, in terms of hierarchy, when it comes to displaying other headings on the page. By using the hgroup element, we can group these headings together, without affecting the flow of the document’s outline.


  1. Cindy 7 years ago

    There are no words to describe how boadicous this is.

  2. Johnelle 7 years ago

    More posts of this quatliy. Not the usual c***, please


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