Metadata content.
Contexts in which this element can be used:
Where metadata content is expected.
In a noscript element that is a child of a head element.
Content model:
Content attributes:
Global attributes
Also, the title attribute has special semantics on this element.
DOM interface:
interface HTMLLinkElement : HTMLElement {
           attribute boolean disabled;
           attribute DOMString href;
           attribute DOMString rel;
  readonly attribute DOMTokenList relList;
           attribute DOMString media;
           attribute DOMString hreflang;
           attribute DOMString type;
  [PutForwards=value] readonly attribute DOMSettableTokenList sizes;
HTMLLinkElement implements LinkStyle;

The link element allows authors to link their document to other resources.

The destination of the link(s) is given by the href attribute, which must be present and must contain a valid non-empty URL potentially surrounded by spaces. If the href attribute is absent, then the element does not define a link.

A link element must have rel attribute.

The types of link indicated (the relationships) are given by the value of the rel attribute, which, if present, must have a value that is a set of space-separated tokens. The allowed keywords and their meanings are defined in a later section. If the rel attribute is absent, has no keywords, or if none of the keywords used are allowed according to the definitions in this specification, then the element does not create any links.

Two categories of links can be created using the link element: Links to external resources and hyperlinks. The link types section defines whether a particular link type is an external resource or a hyperlink. One link element can create multiple links (of which some might be external resource links and some might be hyperlinks); exactly which and how many links are created depends on the keywords given in the rel attribute. User agents must process the links on a per-link basis, not a per-element basis.

Each link created for a link element is handled separately. For instance, if there are two link elements with rel="stylesheet", they each count as a separate external resource, and each is affected by its own attributes independently. Similarly, if a single link element has a rel attribute with the value next stylesheet, it creates both a hyperlink (for the next keyword) and an external resource link (for the stylesheet keyword), and they are affected by other attributes (such as media or title) differently.

For example, the following link element creates two hyperlinks (to the same page):

<link rel="author license" href="/about">

The two links created by this element are one whose semantic is that the target page has information about the current page's author, and one whose semantic is that the target page has information regarding the license under which the current page is provided.

The exact behavior for links to external resources depends on the exact relationship, as defined for the relevant link type. Some of the attributes control whether or not the external resource is to be applied (as defined below).

For external resources that are represented in the DOM (for example, style sheets), the DOM representation must be made available even if the resource is not applied. To obtain the resource, the user agent must run the following steps:

  1. If the href attribute's value is the empty string, then abort these steps.

  2. Resolve the URL given by the href attribute, relative to the element.

  3. If the previous step fails, then abort these steps.

  4. Fetch the resulting absolute URL.

User agents may opt to only try to obtain such resources when they are needed, instead of pro-actively fetching all the external resources that are not applied.

The semantics of the protocol used (e.g. HTTP) must be followed when fetching external resources. (For example, redirects will be followed and 404 responses will cause the external resource to not be applied.)

Once the attempts to obtain the resource and its critical subresources are complete, the user agent must, if the loads were successful, queue a task to fire a simple event named load at the link element, or, if the resource or one of its critical subresources failed to completely load for any reason (e.g. DNS error, HTTP 404 response, a connection being prematurely closed, unsupported Content-Type), queue a task to fire a simple event named error at the link element. Non-network errors in processing the resource or its subresources (e.g. CSS parse errors, PNG decoding errors) are not failures for the purposes of this paragraph.

The task source for these tasks is the DOM manipulation task source.

The element must delay the load event of the element's document until all the attempts to obtain the resource and its critical subresources are complete. (Resources that the user agent has not yet attempted to obtain, e.g. because it is waiting for the resource to be needed, do not delay the load event.)

Interactive user agents may provide users with a means to follow the hyperlinks created using the link element, somewhere within their user interface. The exact interface is not defined by this specification, but it could include the following information (obtained from the element's attributes, again as defined below), in some form or another (possibly simplified), for each hyperlink created with each link element in the document:

User agents could also include other information, such as the type of the resource (as given by the type attribute).

Hyperlinks created with the link element and its rel attribute apply to the whole page. This contrasts with the rel attribute of a and area elements, which indicates the type of a link whose context is given by the link's location within the document.

The media attribute says which media the resource applies to. The value must be a valid media query.

If the link is a hyperlink then the media attribute is purely advisory, and describes for which media the document in question was designed.

However, if the link is an external resource link, then the media attribute is prescriptive. The user agent must apply the external resource when the media attribute's value matches the environment and the other relevant conditions apply, and must not apply it otherwise.

The external resource might have further restrictions defined within that limit its applicability. For example, a CSS style sheet might have some @media blocks. This specification does not override such further restrictions or requirements.

The default, if the media attribute is omitted, is "all", meaning that by default links apply to all media.

The hreflang attribute on the link element has the same semantics as the hreflang attribute on a and area elements.

The type attribute gives the MIME type of the linked resource. It is purely advisory. The value must be a valid MIME type.

For external resource links, the type attribute is used as a hint to user agents so that they can avoid fetching resources they do not support. If the attribute is present, then the user agent must assume that the resource is of the given type (even if that is not a valid MIME type, e.g. the empty string). If the attribute is omitted, but the external resource link type has a default type defined, then the user agent must assume that the resource is of that type. If the UA does not support the given MIME type for the given link relationship, then the UA should not obtain the resource; if the UA does support the given MIME type for the given link relationship, then the UA should obtain the resource at the appropriate time as specified for the external resource link's particular type. If the attribute is omitted, and the external resource link type does not have a default type defined, but the user agent would obtain the resource if the type was known and supported, then the user agent should obtain the resource under the assumption that it will be supported.

User agents must not consider the type attribute authoritative — upon fetching the resource, user agents must not use the type attribute to determine its actual type. Only the actual type (as defined in the next paragraph) is used to determine whether to apply the resource, not the aforementioned assumed type.

The stylesheet link type defines rules for processing the resource's Content-Type metadata.

Once the user agent has established the type of the resource, the user agent must apply the resource if it is of a supported type and the other relevant conditions apply, and must ignore the resource otherwise.

If a document contains style sheet links labeled as follows:

<link rel="stylesheet" href="A" type="text/plain">
<link rel="stylesheet" href="B" type="text/css">
<link rel="stylesheet" href="C">

...then a compliant UA that supported only CSS style sheets would fetch the B and C files, and skip the A file (since text/plain is not the MIME type for CSS style sheets).

For files B and C, it would then check the actual types returned by the server. For those that are sent as text/css, it would apply the styles, but for those labeled as text/plain, or any other type, it would not.

If one of the two files was returned without a Content-Type metadata, or with a syntactically incorrect type like Content-Type: "null", then the default type for stylesheet links would kick in. Since that default type is text/css, the style sheet would nonetheless be applied.

The title attribute gives the title of the link. With one exception, it is purely advisory. The value is text. The exception is for style sheet links, where the title attribute defines alternative style sheet sets.

The title attribute on link elements differs from the global title attribute of most other elements in that a link without a title does not inherit the title of the parent element: it merely has no title.

The sizes attribute is used with the icon link type. The attribute must not be specified on link elements that do not have a rel attribute that specifies the icon keyword.

HTTP Link: header fields, if supported, must be assumed to come before any links in the document, in the order that they were given in the HTTP message. These header fields are to be processed according to the rules given in the relevant specifications. [HTTP] [WEBLINK]

Registration of relation types in HTTP Link: header fields is distinct from HTML link types, and thus their semantics can be different from same-named HTML types.

The IDL attributes href, rel, media, hreflang, type, and sizes each must reflect the respective content attributes of the same name.

The IDL attribute relList must reflect the rel content attribute.

The IDL attribute disabled only applies to style sheet links. When the link element defines a style sheet link, then the disabled attribute behaves as defined for the alternative style sheets DOM. For all other link elements it always return false and does nothing on setting.

The LinkStyle interface is also implemented by this element; the styling processing model defines how. [CSSOM]

Here, a set of link elements provide some style sheets:

<!-- a persistent style sheet -->
<link rel="stylesheet" href="default.css">

<!-- the preferred alternate style sheet -->
<link rel="stylesheet" href="green.css" title="Green styles">

<!-- some alternate style sheets -->
<link rel="alternate stylesheet" href="contrast.css" title="High contrast">
<link rel="alternate stylesheet" href="big.css" title="Big fonts">
<link rel="alternate stylesheet" href="wide.css" title="Wide screen">

The following example shows how you can specify versions of the page that use alternative formats, are aimed at other languages, and that are intended for other media:

<link rel=alternate href="/en/html" hreflang=en type=text/html title="English HTML">
<link rel=alternate href="/fr/html" hreflang=fr type=text/html title="French HTML">
<link rel=alternate href="/en/html/print" hreflang=en type=text/html media=print title="English HTML (for printing)">
<link rel=alternate href="/fr/html/print" hreflang=fr type=text/html media=print title="French HTML (for printing)">
<link rel=alternate href="/en/pdf" hreflang=en type=application/pdf title="English PDF">
<link rel=alternate href="/fr/pdf" hreflang=fr type=application/pdf title="French PDF">