4.5.3 The pre element

Flow content.
Palpable content.
Contexts in which this element can be used:
Where flow content is expected.
Content model:
Phrasing content.
Content attributes:
Global attributes
DOM interface:
interface HTMLPreElement : HTMLElement {};

The pre element represents a block of preformatted text, in which structure is represented by typographic conventions rather than by elements.

In the HTML syntax, a leading newline character immediately following the pre element start tag is stripped.

Some examples of cases where the pre element could be used:

Authors are encouraged to consider how preformatted text will be experienced when the formatting is lost, as will be the case for users of speech synthesizers, braille displays, and the like. For cases like ASCII art, it is likely that an alternative presentation, such as a textual description, would be more universally accessible to the readers of the document.

To represent a block of computer code, the pre element can be used with a code element; to represent a block of computer output the pre element can be used with a samp element. Similarly, the kbd element can be used within a pre element to indicate text that the user is to enter.

A newline in a pre element should separate paragraphs for the purposes of the Unicode bidirectional algorithm. This requirement may be implemented indirectly through the style layer. For example, an HTML+CSS user agent could implement these requirements by implementing the CSS 'unicode-bidi' property. [BIDI] [CSS]

In the following snippet, a sample of computer code is presented.

<p>This is the <code>Panel</code> constructor:</p>
<pre><code>function Panel(element, canClose, closeHandler) {
  this.element = element;
  this.canClose = canClose;
  this.closeHandler = function () { if (closeHandler) closeHandler() };

In the following snippet, samp and kbd elements are mixed in the contents of a pre element to show a session of Zork I.

<pre><samp>You are in an open field west of a big white house with a boarded
front door.
There is a small mailbox here.

></samp> <kbd>open mailbox</kbd>

<samp>Opening the mailbox reveals:
A leaflet.


The following shows a contemporary poem that uses the pre element to preserve its unusual formatting, which forms an intrinsic part of the poem itself.

<pre>                maxling

it is with a          heart

that i admit loss of a feline
        so           loved

a friend lost to the

~cdr 11dec07</pre>