Section 3.8. The Document Body

The document body is the meat of the matter; it's where you put the contents of your document. The <body> tag delimits the document body.

3.8.1 The <body> Tag

Within HTML 4 and XHTML, the <body> tag has a number of attributes that control the color and background of your document. Various browsers have extended the tag to give even greater control over your document's appearance.



Defines the document body


alink, background, bgcolor, bgproperties, class, dir, id, lang, leftmargin (figs/i.gif), link, onBlur, onClick, onDblClick, onFocus, onKeyDown, onKeyPress, onKeyUp, onLoad, onMouseDown, onMouseMove, onMouseOut, onMouseOver, onMouseUp, onUnload, style, text, title, topmargin (figs/i.gif), vlink, onKeyDown

End tag

</body>; may be omitted in HTML



Used in


Anything between the <body> tag and its ending counterpart, </body>, is called body content. The simplest document might have only a sequence of text paragraphs within the <body> tag. More complex documents might include heavily formatted text, graphical figures, tables, and a variety of special effects.

Since the position of the <body> and </body> tags can be inferred by the browser, they can safely be omitted from an HTML, but not an XHTML, document. Like the <html> and <head> tags, we recommend that you include the <body> tags in your HTML documents, too, to make them more easily readable and maintainable.

The various attributes for the <body> tag can be loosely grouped into three sets: those that give you some control over the document's appearance, those that associate programmable functions with the document itself, and those that label and identify the body for later reference. We address the appearance attributes (alink, background, bgcolor, bgproperties, leftmargin, link, text, topmargin, and vlink) in Chapter 5; the class and style attributes for cascading style sheets in Chapter 8; JavaScript style sheets and the programmatic attributes (the "on-event" ones) in Chapter 12; the language attributes (dir and lang) earlier in this chapter, in Section and Section; and the identification attributes (id and title) in Chapter 4. [Section] [Section] [Section] [Section]

3.8.2 Frames

The HTML and XHTML standards define a special type of document in which you replace the <body> tag with one or more <frameset> tags. This so-called frame document divides the display window into one or more independent windows, each displaying a different document. We thoroughly describe this innovation in Chapter 11.