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The <meta> element represents various kinds of metadata that cannot be expressed using the title, base, link, style, and script elements.


  • Exactly one of the name, http-equiv, and charset attributes must be specified.

  • If either name or http-equiv is specified, then the content attribute must also be specified. Otherwise, it must be omitted.

HTML Attributes

  • name = string
    Sets document metadata.
    • application-name
      Giving the name of the Web application that the page represents.
    • author
      Giving the name of one of the page's authors.
    • description
      Describes the page. [Example A]
    • generator
      Identifies one of the software packages used to generate the document.
    • keywords
      Giving the keyword relevant to the page. [Example A]

Other metadata names may be registered in the WHATWG Wiki MetaExtensions page.

  • http-equiv = string
    When the http-equiv attribute is specified on a meta element, the element is a pragma directive. You can use this element to simulate an HTTP response header, but only if the server doesn't send the corresponding real header; you can't override an HTTP header with a meta http-equiv element.[1]
    Values are those in Section 14 of the HTTP standard. Some of the most common ones[2] include:
    • content-language
      Sets the pragma-set default language.
    • content-type
      Alternative form of setting the charset attribute
    • default-style OR content-style-type
      Sets the name of the default alternative style sheet set.
    • refresh
      Acts as timed redirect. [Example B]
    • Allow
      Defines methods allowed by server (GET, POST etc.)
    • Content-Encoding
      Define the the encoding type of the returned data
    • Content-Length
    • Date
      Document creation date
    • Expires
      Expiration date
    • Last-Modified
      Date when document was last modified
    • Location
      Absolute URL pointing to the document
    • Set-Cookie

  • content = string
    Gives the value of the document metadata or pragma directive when the element is used for those purposes.

  • charset = character encoding name
    Specifies the character encoding used by the document. [Example A]

See also global attributes.


Example A

  <title>World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)</title>
  <meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8" />
  <meta http-equiv="Content-Style-Type" content="text/css" />
  <meta name="copyright" content="© W3C" />
  <meta name="author" lang="en" content="" />
  <meta name="robots" content="Index,Follow" />
  <meta name="description"
        content="The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international community
        where Member organizations, a full-time staff,
        and the public work together to develop Web standards." />
  <meta name="keyword" content="W3C, HTML, CSS, SVG, Web standards" />

Example B

A news organization's front page could include the following markup in the page's head element, to ensure that the page automatically reloads from the server every five minutes:

<meta http-equiv="Refresh" content="300">

You can also use meta refresh to redirect.

<meta http-equiv="Refresh" content="X;url="> 

Where X = Time.

NOTE: Most search bots will actually remove your site from their list if you overuse meta refresh; try to use 301 redirection instead.

HTML Reference

The HTML5 specification defines the <meta> element in 4.2.5 The meta element.

  1. Sitepoint | http-equiv (HTML attribute)
  2. HTML <meta /> tag - optional attributes