Common HTML Errors

Here are some of the common errors made by content contributors when editing in a content management system:


We encourage you to learn some HTML but be aware there is misinformation online and it’s common to produce poor quality HTML code that may not work on all browsers or devices. You are encouraged to use the formatting options provided in the toolbar of the content management system and follow these tips on our Using a Rich Text Editor page. If you need special formatting or layout, please contact the Web team.  If you prefer writing code, please learn standards-based best practice HTML.

Tables for Layout

Using <table> HTML tags to lay out content into multiple columns is not current best practice and will not display consistently in all browsers or on all devices. If you need a multi-column layout for your content, please contact the Web team.

If you need to present tabular data <table> HTML tags are appropriate however tables that are not coded properly will not be accessible to visitors using assistive technology. Please contact the Web team.

Bold and Italic HTML Tags

<cite> or <em> and <strong> are the preferred tags.

<cite> to indicate the title of a work or book.
<em> is for words or sentences you want to emphasize and would pronounce differently.
<i> is for alternate text, such as foreign words, technical terms, or inline stage directions.

<strong> denotes that the text is important.
<b> is used as a stylistic offset such as keywords and for typographically emboldened text.

In some Web displays, including screen readers for the blind, text wrapped in <b> and <i> will have be no different than any other text on the page. There is no auditory indication for these tags.

Character Entities

Because we share many characters in our language with computer-programming languages like HTML, we need a way of letting the browser know that it should not interpret those characters as a piece of code. To do this, we use Entities to represent these characters.

Some commonly used Entities:
& = &amp;
< = &lt;

Luckily, if you stick with the formatting options provided in the toolbar of the content management system WordPress will automatically translate the entities and Drupal provides a Special Characters button. If you are coding your site in HTML, however, you will have to manually include each Entity.

Foreign Language Entities require that you include extra code signifying the language.

Nesting Block Level elements

Description of Block level vs. Inline element tags on our Inspect & Troubleshoot the Code page.

Learn More

When too large an image is included on a Web page load time of the page increases and there is a risk that the image may not load on some devices. Please learn how to reduce your image file size in our Image Optimization tutorial.

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