The Web Design Group

dl - Definition List

Syntax <dl>...</dl>
Attribute Specifications
Contents One or more dt or dd elements
Contained in applet, blockquote, body, button, center, dd, del, div, fieldset, form, iframe, ins, li, map, noframes, noscript, object, td, th

The dl element defines a definition list. An entry in the list is created using the dt element for the term being defined and the dd element for the definition of the term.

A definition list can have multiple terms for a given definition as well as multiple definitions for a given term. Authors can also give a term without a corresponding definition, and vice versa, but such a structure rarely makes sense.

An example follows:


  <dt>Block-level elements</dt>
      In XHTML, block-level elements may generally contain
      inline elements and other block-level elements. They are
      usually formatted differently than inline elements,
      typically on a new line in visual browsers.

  <dt>Inline elements</dt>
  <dt>Text-level elements</dt>
      Inline (or text-level) elements generally only contain
      character data and other inline elements.


The dl element can be adapted for use with structures that are not strict terms and definitions, a practice that is justified when other XHTML elements cannot adequately describe a structure. Some examples follow:

Note the use of the class attribute in the preceding examples. This allows the author to easily suggest, through style sheets, a distinguishing presentation for different kinds of definition lists.

In addition to the common attributes shared by most elements, dl takes a compact attribute. This attribute, deprecated in XHTML 1.0 and poorly supported among browsers, suggests that visual browsers render the list compactly, perhaps with reduced spacing between items.

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