HTML5 <em> Tag

The HTML <em> tag is used to specify text that has stress emphasis. You can nest multiple <em> elements. In such cases, each level of nesting will indicate a greater degree of emphasis.

Typically this element is displayed in italic type. However, it should not be used simply to apply italic styling. You should use the CSS styling for that purpose. As a side note, you can use the <cite> element to mark the title of a work (book, play, song, etc.). The <cite> element is also typically styled with italic type, but carries different meaning. You should use the <strong> element to mark text that has greater importance than surrounding text.

There is slight but important difference between <em> and <i> tags. The <em> tag represents stress emphasis of its contents, while the <i> tag represents text that is set off from the normal prose, such as the name of a movie or book, a foreign word, or when the text refers to the definition of a word instead of representing its semantic meaning.

The only content permitted inside this element is phrasing content. Both the starting and ending tag are mandatory for this element. The parent of the <em> tag can be any element that accepts phrasing content.

The following style is applied to this element by default:

em {
  font-style: italic;

Here is an example of using this tag:

<p> In HTML 5, what was previously called <em>block-level</em> content is now called <em>flow</em> content. </p>


This element only accepts global attributes.


See the Pen HTML em Tag by Tutorialio (@tutorialio) on CodePen.

Further Reading

  1. Read more about the HTML <em> element on MDN.
  2. You can also read the HTML <em> tag reference on W3C.

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