WWW FAQs: Why do some elements end with /> in XHTML pages?


2004-05-04: Every XHTML element has to be closed so that the parser doesn't have to have special knowledge of each element in order to properly parse it. For instance, before XHTML, a naive parser might have thought that:

<br>

Meant that a br "block" had been opened, and that parser might wait around for a closing:

</br>

Which would never appear.

Another good example of an "empty" element that needs a trailing slash to be XHTML compliant is the <img /> element. Elements that do have a closing element, such as <body>...</body>, should not have a / before the >.

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