The HTML Citation element (<cite>) is used to describe a reference to a cited creative work, and must include the title of that work. The reference may be in an abbreviated form according to context-appropriate conventions related to citation metadata.

Content categories Flow content, phrasing content, palpable content.
Permitted content Phrasing content.
Tag omission None, both the starting and ending tag are mandatory.
Permitted parents Any element that accepts phrasing content.
Implicit ARIA role No corresponding role
Permitted ARIA roles Any
DOM interface HTMLElement Up to Gecko 1.9.2 (Firefox 4) inclusive, Firefox implements the HTMLSpanElement interface for this element.


This element only includes the global attributes.

Usage notes

In the context of the <cite> element, a creative work that might be cited could be, for example, one of the following:

  • A book
  • A research paper
  • An essay
  • A poem
  • A musical score
  • A song
  • A play or film script
  • A film
  • A television show
  • A game
  • A sculpture
  • A painting
  • A theatrical production
  • A play
  • An opera
  • A musical
  • An exhibition
  • A legal case report
  • A computer program
  • A web site
  • A web page
  • A blog post or comment
  • A forum post or comment
  • A tweet
  • A Facebook post
  • A written or oral statement
  • And so forth.

It's worth noting that the W3C specification says that a reference to a creative work, as included within a <cite> element, may include the name of the work’s author. However, the WHATWG specification for <cite> says the opposite: that a person’s name must never be included, under any circumstances.

To include a reference to the source of quoted material which is contained within a <blockquote> or <q> element, use the cite attribute on the element.

Typically, browsers style the contents of a <cite> element in italics by default. To avoid this, apply the CSS font-style property to the <cite> element.


<p>More information can be found in <cite>[ISO-0000]</cite>.</p>

The HTML above outputs:


Browser compatibilityUpdate compatibility data on GitHub

Chrome Edge Firefox Internet Explorer Opera Safari
cite Yes 12 1 Yes Yes Yes
Android webview Chrome for Android Firefox for Android Opera for Android Safari on iOS Samsung Internet
cite Yes Yes 4 Yes Yes Yes

See also

  • The element <blockquote> for long quotations.
  • The element <q> for inline quotations.

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