Techniques for WCAG 2.0

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H74: Ensuring that opening and closing tags are used according to specification



This technique relates to:


The objective of this technique is to avoid key errors that are known to cause problems for assistive technologies when they are trying to parse content which involve having opening and closing tags that are not used according to specification. These errors can be avoided by using the HTML or XHTML mechanism to specify the technology and technology version, and making sure the Web page does not have these types of errors in it. There are several validators that the developer can use: validation reports generally mention these types of errors. This technique deals only with errors related to incorrectly formed opening and closing tags. The document type declaration is not strictly necessary for this type of evaluation, but specifying the document type declaration makes it easier to use a validator.


Example 1: HTML

HTML pages include a document type declaration (sometimes referred to as !DOCTYPE statement). The developer can use offline or online validators (see Resources below) to check that all id attribute values are unique and that opening and closing tags are used according to the specification.

Example 2: XHTML

Like other other XML-based documents, XHTML documents reference a Document Type Definition (DTD) or other type of XML schema. The developer can use online or offline validators (including validation tools built into editors) to check that opening and closing tags are used according to the specification.

Example 3: Using test frameworks

When a Website generates HTML or XHTML dynamically instead of serving only static pages, a developer can use XHTMLUnit, XML Test Suite or a similar framework to test the generated XHTML code.


Resources are for information purposes only, no endorsement implied.

For other resources, see G134: Validating Web pages.

(none currently listed)



  1. Check that there are closing tags for all elements with required closing tags.

  2. Check that there are no closing tags for all elements where closing tags are forbidden.

  3. Check that opening and closing tags for all elements are correctly nested.

Expected Results

Steps 1, 2, and 3 are true.

If this is a sufficient technique for a success criterion, failing this test procedure does not necessarily mean that the success criterion has not been satisfied in some other way, only that this technique has not been successfully implemented and can not be used to claim conformance.

Techniques are Informative

Techniques are informative—that means they are not required. The basis for determining conformance to WCAG 2.0 is the success criteria from the WCAG 2.0 standard—not the techniques. For important information about techniques, please see the Understanding Techniques for WCAG Success Criteria section of Understanding WCAG 2.0.