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HTML XHTML The Complete Reference
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<dl> (Definition List)

This element encloses a list of terms and definition pairs. A common use for this element is to implement a glossary.

Standard Syntax

class="class name(s)"
compact="compact" (transitional only)
dir="ltr | rtl"
id="unique alphanumeric identifier"
lang="language code"
style="style information"
title="advisory text"

Attributes Defined by Internet Explorer

accesskey="key" (5.5)
contenteditable="false | true | inherit" (5.5)
disabled="false | true" (5.5)
hidefocus="true | false" (5.5)
language="javascript | jscript | vbs | vbscript" (4)
tabindex="number" (5.5)
unselectable="on | off" (5.5)

Standard Events

onclick, ondblclick, onmousedown, onmouseup, onmouseover, onmousemove, onmouseout, onkeypress, onkeydown, onkeyup

Events Defined by Internet Explorer

onactivate, onbeforeactivate, onbeforecopy, onbeforecut, onbeforedeactivate, onbeforeeditfocus, onbeforepaste, onblur, oncontextmenu, oncontrolselect, oncopy, oncut, ondeactivate, ondrag, ondragend, ondragenter, ondragleave, ondragover, ondragstart, ondrop, onfocus, onfocusin, onfocusout, onhelp, onlosecapture, onmouseenter, onmouseleave, onmousewheel, onmove, onmoveend, onmovestart, onpaste, onpropertychange, onreadystatechange, onresizeend, onresizestart, onselectstart, ontimeerror

Element Specific Attributes

This attribute reduces the white space between list items.


 <dd>A domestic animal that likes fish

 <dd>A wild animal that needs deodorant


HTML 2, 3.2, 4, 4.01, XHTML 1.0, 1.1, Basic
Internet Explorer 2, 3, 4, 5, 5.5, 6
Netscape 1, 2, 3, 4- 4.7, 6
Opera 4-7


The items in the list comprise two parts: the term, indicated by the dt element, and its definition, indicated by the dd element.

Some page designers might use a <dl> tag or <ul> tag to create text indention. Although this is a common practice on the Web, it is not advisable because it confuses the meaning of the element by making it a physical layout device rather than a list.

HTML 2 and 3.2 support only the compact attribute for this element.

For XHTML compatibility, the compact attribute must be expanded: <dl compact="compact"> under the transitional form. It is deprecated under the strict specification.

(X)HTML Elements
CSS Properties
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