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California State University, Long Beach
Web Comm, California State University, Long Beach
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Web Accessibility: Text Formatting

Though not explicitly covered by accessibility rules, knowledge and correct use of text formatting tags helps make web pages more accessible. More information can be found at

Text Formatting Tags

Tag Sample Description
<b> sample text Defines bold text
<big> sample text Defines big text
<em> sample text Defines emphasized text 
<i> italic Defines italic text
<small> sample text Defines small text
<strong> sample text Defines strong text
<sub> sample text Defines subscripted text
<sup> sample text Defines superscripted text
<ins> sample text Defines inserted text
<del> sample text Defines deleted text
<s> sample text Strike-through. Deprecated. Use <del> instead
<strike> sample text Strike-through. Deprecated. Use <del> instead
<u> sample text Underline. Deprecated. Use CSS styles instead

“Computer Output” Tags

Tag Sample Description
<code> sample text Designates a fragment of computer code.
<kbd> sample text Indicates text to be entered by the user.
<samp> sample text Designates sample output from programs, scripts, etc.
<tt> sample text Defines teletype or mono-spaced text
<var> sample text Indicates an instance of a variable or program argument.
sample text
Defines preformatted text
<listing> sample text Code listing. Deprecated. Use <pre> instead
<plaintext> N/A Plain text. Deprecated. Use <pre> instead. More information.
<xmp> sample text Example. Deprecated. Use <pre> or <samp>instead

Citations, Quotations, and Definition Tags

Tag Sample Description
<abbr> smpl txt Indicates an abbreviated form (e.g., WWW, HTTP, URI, Mass., etc.).
<acronym> SAMPLE text Indicates an acronym (e.g., WAC, radar, etc.).
sample text
Defines an address element
<bdo> sample text Bi-Directional Override. Specify text direction.
sample text
Defines a block quotation. Normally indents entire quotation.
<q> sample text Places quotes around selected text.
<cite> sample text Contains a citation or a reference to other sources.
<dfn> sample text Indicates the defining instance of the enclosed term.