In the world outside the land of html, tags are also called labels. They mean the same thing: they are used for identifying or providing other information about the item that they are attached to.

Clothing tags

For example:

Other examples of types of tags

In addition to tags and labels, the terms markers, markup mean about the same thing too. Here are more examples:

Automobile license plate:

Label on a can of vegetables:


Soldiers have many:

Mile Markers:

Editorial Markup:

In the world outside, and also in html, tags identify types of objects, such as
Red-Hot Raspberry Ringer, Butterscotch Bomb, and Peppermint Pizazz.
Candy Store Tags

This image seeks to illustrate how html tags surround the object that they are identifying.
Note that there is no <shoe> tag in html, but the xml markup language can include one if needed.
shoe with html tags identifying it as a shoe

HTML Markup

Obviously there are a lot of ways to tag (or label, mark, markup) things. In order for information to be properly displayed in a Web browser, labels, called markups or tags are used. In this context marking up does not mean increasing the cost of the web page! It's more like if you used a Sharpie (a type of marker) to quickly scrawl your name on a wall. In fact, graffiti that consists of a persons identification letters or symbols are also called tags.

In html, tags are used to identify different kinds of information. This is referred to as semantic markup. Using HTML tags, we identify parts of the web page as being paragraphs, headings, images, and so forth.

A tag consists of an opening angle bracket (also called the less than symbol) < followed by the tag name and then a closing angle bracket (a greater than symbol) > such as this hypothetical <tag>.

Then, most of the time, there is a closing tag that is the same as the opening tag but with a forward slash before the name of the tag: </tag>

An HTML Element

In html, an element is an opening and (usually) closing tag and the stuff between those tags. For example, the paragraph tag <p> tells the browser that there is a paragraph of text. The browser will then show the text and add a blank row before and after the paragraph. The element consists of the opening tag <p> the text after it, and the closing tag </p> - here is an example:

<p>Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Duis ligula lorem, consequat eget, tristique nec, auctor quis, purus. Vivamus ut sem. Fusce aliquam nunc vitae purus. Aenean viverra malesuada libero. Fusce ac quam. Donec neque. Nunc venenatis enim nec quam. </p>

Browsers will apply formatting to the contents of some tags, notably heading tags, by making the headings bold and, generally, with text larger than the text around it. More important than how a heading looks is that the text within it is identified as a section heading. In html, headings are also given a number, such as <h2> indicating its level of importance.

This is vital for folks such as the visually impaired who use readers to "read" the text of a web page in a certain way depending on the type of tag that is used. An example of a reader is VoiceOver, which comes with the Mac OS.

The newest, not fully defined or implemented version of html, html5, has superior semantic markups such as article, footer, and menu, however they are not mainstream as of this writing.