HTML <em> Tag

The <em> tag adds emphasis to a piece of text.

By default, the <em> element is rendered in italic.

The <em> element can be nested inside other <em> elements.

The deeper the nesting the higher the level of emphasis.



Two <em> tags that emphasize, i.e. italicize, a couple text fragments.

Many of Matisse's paintings from 1898 to 1901 make use of a Divisionist technique. Divisionism is a paint style that is defined by the separation of colors into individual dots which interact optically.

  Many of Matisse's paintings from 1898 to 1901 make use 
  of a <em>Divisionist</em> technique. Divisionism is a paint style 
  that is defined by the <em>separation of colors</em> into 
  individual dots which interact optically.
em = emphasize

By the way, here is an example of Matisse's divisionist technique.

Attributes for <em>

The <em> element has no attributes, but it does accept global attributes. The following are occasionally used.

Attribute Value Description
id   value Provides the em element with a unique identifier.
class   classnames Assigns one or more classnames to the em element.
style   CSS-values Assigns CSS style values to the em element.

For additional global attributes see our global attributes list.

Phrase tags

Phrase tags highlight the meaning of one or more words (i.e. a phrase).

The <em> tag is one of them, but there several others.

A list of all HTML Phrase tags.

Tag Description
<em> Indicates emphasized text
<strong> Indicates important text
<code> Indicates computer code
<samp> Indicates sample output from a computer program
<kbd> Indicates keyboard input
<var> Indicates a variable

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Difference between <i> and <em> tags

Both the <i> and <em> tags are rendered in italic.

The <em> tag is used to give emphasis to a word or phrase.

The <i> tag is used to style the text as italic without any semantic meaning.

Tip:  Generally, <em> is preferred over <i>.  If simple italic text is required, use CSS instead.

Text Tags

The <em> tag is part of a group of tags that are used to create and format text documents. This group is referred to as the Text tag group. Together, they allow you to create comprehensive HTML text documents.

Here is a list of text tags.

Element Description
<h1>-<h6> Defines text headings in 6 different sizes
<p> Creates a paragraph
<span> Container for one or more inline text elements
<br> Creates a line break
<sup> Specifies superscript text
<sub> Specifies subscripted text
<u> Specifies underlined text
<i> Specifies italic text
<b> Specifies bold text
<em> Marks text that needs emphasis
<strong> Indicates text that is important or with high urgency
<del> Defines deleted text
<ins> Defines inserted text
<ruby> Represents a small annotation with pronunciation of text
<kbd> Specifies keyboard input, such as, CTRL or ALT
<wbr> Specifies a preferred word-break location for long words

Browser support

Here is when <em> support started for each browser:

1.0 Sep 2008
1.0 Sep 2002
1.0 Aug 1995
1.0 Jan 2006
1.0 Jan 2003

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Last updated on Sep 30, 2023