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4.6.19 The mark element

Flow content.
Phrasing content.
Palpable content.
Contexts in which this element can be used:
Where phrasing content is expected.
Content model:
Phrasing content.
Content attributes:
Global attributes
DOM interface:
Uses HTMLElement.

The mark element represents a run of text in one document marked or highlighted for reference purposes, due to its relevance in another context. When used in a quotation or other block of text referred to from the prose, it indicates a highlight that was not originally present but which has been added to bring the reader's attention to a part of the text that might not have been considered important by the original author when the block was originally written, but which is now under previously unexpected scrutiny. When used in the main prose of a document, it indicates a part of the document that has been highlighted due to its likely relevance to the user's current activity.

This example shows how the mark element can be used to bring attention to a particular part of a quotation:

<p lang="en-US">Consider the following quote:</p>
<blockquote lang="en-GB">
 <p>Look around and you will find, no-one's really
 <mark>colour</mark> blind.</p>
<p lang="en-US">As we can tell from the <em>spelling</em> of the word,
the person writing this quote is clearly not American.</p>

(If the goal was to mark the element as misspelt, however, the u element, possibly with a class, would be more appropriate.)

Another example of the mark element is highlighting parts of a document that are matching some search string. If someone looked at a document, and the server knew that the user was searching for the word "kitten", then the server might return the document with one paragraph modified as follows:

<p>I also have some <mark>kitten</mark>s who are visiting me
these days. They're really cute. I think they like my garden! Maybe I
should adopt a <mark>kitten</mark>.</p>

In the following snippet, a paragraph of text refers to a specific part of a code fragment.

<p>The highlighted part below is where the error lies:</p>
<pre><code>var i: Integer;
   i := <mark>1.1</mark>;

This is separate from syntax highlighting, for which span is more appropriate. Combining both, one would get:

<p>The highlighted part below is where the error lies:</p>
<pre><code><span class=keyword>var</span> <span class=ident>i</span>: <span class=type>Integer</span>;
<span class=keyword>begin</span>
   <span class=ident>i</span> := <span class=literal><mark>1.1</mark></span>;
<span class=keyword>end</span>.</code></pre>

This is another example showing the use of mark to highlight a part of quoted text that was originally not emphasized. In this example, common typographic conventions have led the author to explicitly style mark elements in quotes to render in italics.

 <style scoped>
  blockquote mark, q mark {
    font: inherit; font-style: italic;
    text-decoration: none;
    background: transparent; color: inherit;
  .bubble em {
    font: inherit; font-size: larger;
    text-decoration: underline;
 <h1>She knew</h1>
 <p>Did you notice the subtle joke in the joke on panel 4?</p>
  <p class="bubble">I didn't <em>want</em> to believe. <mark>Of course
  on some level I realized it was a known-plaintext attack.</mark> But I
  couldn't admit it until I saw for myself.</p>
 <p>(Emphasis mine.) I thought that was great. It's so pedantic, yet it
 explains everything neatly.</p>

Note, incidentally, the distinction between the em element in this example, which is part of the original text being quoted, and the mark element, which is highlighting a part for comment.

The following example shows the difference between denoting the importance of a span of text (strong) as opposed to denoting the relevance of a span of text (mark). It is an extract from a textbook, where the extract has had the parts relevant to the exam highlighted. The safety warnings, important though they may be, are apparently not relevant to the exam.

<h3>Wormhole Physics Introduction</h3>

<p><mark>A wormhole in normal conditions can be held open for a
maximum of just under 39 minutes.</mark> Conditions that can increase
the time include a powerful energy source coupled to one or both of
the gates connecting the wormhole, and a large gravity well (such as a
black hole).</p>

<p><mark>Momentum is preserved across the wormhole. Electromagnetic
radiation can travel in both directions through a wormhole,
but matter cannot.</mark></p>

<p>When a wormhole is created, a vortex normally forms.
<strong>Warning: The vortex caused by the wormhole opening will
annihilate anything in its path.</strong> Vortexes can be avoided when
using sufficiently advanced dialing technology.</p>

<p><mark>An obstruction in a gate will prevent it from accepting a
wormhole connection.</mark></p>