3 Sep 2009 10 am eastern

HTML5 For Smarties

The HTML5 specification runs on for over 900 pages, and much of what it covers, while vital to browser makers, is meaningless to people who create websites. If thousands of irrelevant details in the HTML5 spec have you crossing your eyes and crying for Mama, Michael™ Smith’s HTML 5: The Markup Language is just what the HTML5 doctor ordered: lean, clean, and content-author-focused. Until there’s a plain-language HTML5 Pocket Guide, Smith’s edited presentation of the spec will do. (It’s also available in a single page format.)

ShortURL: zeldman.com/?p=2561

Filed under: editorial, Education, HTML, HTML5, Web Design History, Web Standards

44 Responses to “HTML5 For Smarties”

  1. Tony said on


    JOY!!!!!!! =D

    It’s about time the W3C started publishing specs targeted at Web authors. After all, it’s only sensible in keeping with “leading the Web to its full potential”!

    Thanks so much for posting this!

  2. Jesse said on

    Would it be entirely inappropriate to do a little dance of joy?

    Thanks to all involved for this.

  3. Josiah Platt said on

    Sweet mother I’ve been dreaming of this.

    Thank you.

  4. Jared Stein said on

    Thanks for sharing this. Though I actually like reading specs, I’ve not had time and little motivation to dive into the HTML 5 pool. But now I think I have no excuse!

  5. Doug Aitken said on

    Joy unbound! Thankyou for linking to this & to the good Mr Smith for whipping this together.

  6. Billee D. said on

    Sweet! I had been reading the original draft for a while and with its verbosity I misconstrued some key concepts. Short and sweet is easier to digest. Thanks for sharing, Jeffrey.

  7. Morgan O'Neal said on

    In the next draft are they going to change it to HTML5 vs HTML 5? Looks like they already made the change in the spec doc.

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  9. The House of Bugs: HTML/CSS Question-o said on

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  10. Jeffrey Zeldman said on


    In response to an earlier post, the WHATWG has standardized on “HTML5,” and I’m told the W3C has done the same.

  11. Gage Batubara said on

    Rocks! Thanks for sharing this.

  12. William King said on

    Thank you, sir, for sharing this with us. It is sure to reduce headaches. :-P

  13. Shane said on

    That information is very much appreciated. Thank you.

  14. Jorge M Machado said on

    Excellent resource, Mr. Zeldman. Bookmarked.

  15. Ricky Irvine said on

    Funny. They forgot to remove the space in “HTML 5″.

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  19. Xtence said on

    great man, thanks for sharing, this is what i was looking for !

    This one is bookmarked, now it’s time to make a cheat sheet.

  20. Banago said on

    Great copy – its a great thing that we can find everything in one place on HTML5.

  21. Oli Studholme said on

    Note that Mike’s “HTML 5: The Markup Language” guide is intentionally bare-bones, and drops the usage examples and background in the main spec that authors will find useful. It’s a great reference once you know what things mean, but until then another option is to use the “Hide UA text” in the top right box on the WhatWG spec. This removes a lot of the most eyes-glazing-over stuff for authors :)

    Alternatively you can read up on HTML5 at HTML5Doctor (or my humble HTML5 article series ;), then use Mike’s spec as reference.


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  23. Jeffrey Zeldman said on

    Thanks, Oli.

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  28. zcorpan said on

    There’s a static copy of the “hide UA text” view Oli mentioned, at


    (However, the section numbers will be different than from the full spec, since some sections are omitted entirely. So if you’re reviewing it and sending comments, don’t rely on section numbers.)

  29. Darcy said on

    This post is really great! I have gathered lots of ideas from this post about the HTML5.

    SEO Company

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  33. Oli Studholme said on

    @zcorpan thanks for the link! You should have mentioned this one too though:

    Here’s another representation of the spec that might help: HTML5 Elements and Attributes, a table of contents giving quick access to the relevant parts of the spec. Anyone feel nostalgic?

    This is how specs are meant to look :D

  34. Keith said on

    The developer’s view style is obviously a good idea, but unfortunately none of the common browsers put alternate styles anywhere obvious (and the last I checked, Internet Explorer doesn’t support it at all). I think what would be keen would be to split the specification so that a bird’s-eye view containing the elements, attributes, and their descriptions come first and then have the implementation details after that.

  35. Leroy Lyne said on

    Wow, I haven’t visited in while nice new design. I miss those old revolving blurry images. Will you be updating another version of your book that deals specifically with 5. I’m way too busy to slog through blog posts and websites. I hope so.

    —Middle Jamerican web geek.

  36. Golf Blog said on

    This is a pretty good article about HTML 5. I agree with the guy above though– I can’t find a browser that supports it. What are yall using?

  37. Free Rein said on

    Very useful, thanks for sharing.

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  40. Web Design Colchester said on

    Found an html 5 cheat-sheet, though can’t be sure if its accurate or not, anyone confirm if this is any good?


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  43. Jesse said on

    Just hope “IE” could fully support HTML5!!!!

  44. Web Design Cornwall said on

    great post, thanks for sharing, this is what i was looking for !

    WHich browsers are supporting this?
    I think it’s time to make a cheat sheet. Great post

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