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HyperText Markup Language - HTML

Mandatory requirement

The current version of HTML officially approved for use on EUROPA is HTML 4.01 Transitional.


View all IPG Rules

HyperText Markup Language (HTML)  is the universally understood language for publishing hypertext documents on the World Wide Web. It is a non-proprietary format based upon Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML) that defines the structure and layout of a Web document by using a variety of tags and attributes.



HTML documents are plain-text files (which have a .htm or .html suffix) containing markup tags that tell the Web browser or other devices how to display the file. An HTML file can be created and processed by a wide range of tools, from simple plain text to sophisticated WYSIWYG authoring tools. With HTML is possible to incorporate graphics and multi-media contents by referencing them in the text, and integrate complementary languages such as Style sheets CSS or JavaScript.


Use on EUROPA websites

  • The current version of HTML officially approved for use on EUROPA is HTML 4.01 Transitional.

  • !DOCTYPE tag

    <!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN" "">

    Although the !DOCTYPE tag is not strictly required for any HTML page, it must be present on all pages as it has many advantages:
    • it specifies to a browser that the code is HTML, the DTD (Document Type Definition) is an official W3C public DTD, and the HTML version,
  • this identification is also essential to any quality control and/or verification procedures.

    Usually the !DOCTYPE is inserted automatically by HTML editors and authors give little or no thought to its accuracy or usefulness. Care must be taken that the !DOCTYPE tag accurately reflects the status of the following HTML.

    Recommendation for the !DOCTYPE tag:

    • !DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN"
      This is the HTML 4.01 Transitional DTD, which includes presentation attributes and elements that W3C expects to phase out as support for style sheets matures. The Strict DTD should be used when possible, but it is very strict, and use of the Transitional DTD gives more flexibility in the transition from previous HTML versions to 4.01.


  • HTML documents must always be validated. There are some automatic tools available on the Web that can verify if HTML files are in compliance with the W3C recommendations.


  • Try to keep HTML pages not longer than 70kb.


  • Browser compatibility
    A web browser is a computer program that allows users to access information across the World Wide Web. The capabilities of different browsers vary and different browsers will render a Web page differently according to their support of recommended mark-up standards.

    The recommendation is that EUROPA websites should work with the widest range of browsers and release versions. Websites should be tested on a range of browsers to be accessible to the widest possible audience.


  • Frames
    If they are well authorised by the EUROPA team, the frames have a NOFRAMES alternative.

Guidelines and references



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