Tom Tom - 10 months ago 54
HTML Question

Is putting a div inside an anchor ever correct?

I've heard that putting a block element inside a inline element is a HTML sin:

<a href=""><div>
What we have here is a problem.
You see, an anchor element is an inline element,
and the div element is a block level element.

But what about if you style the outer anchor as
in the stylesheet? Is it still wrong? The HTML 4.01 spec on block-level and inline elements seems to think so:

Style sheets provide the means to
specify the rendering of arbitrary
elements, including whether an element
is rendered as block or inline. In
some cases, such as an inline style
for list elements, this may be
appropriate, but generally speaking,
authors are discouraged from
overriding the conventional
interpretation of HTML elements in
this way.

Does anyone have any further tips about this issue?


Depending on the version of HTML you're catering to:

  • HTML 5 states that the <a> element "may be wrapped around entire paragraphs, lists, tables, and so forth, even entire sections, so long as there is no interactive content within (e.g. buttons or other links)".

  • HTML 4.01 specifies that <a> elements may only contain inline elements. A <div> is a block element, so it may not appear inside an <a>.

    Of course you are at liberty to style an inline element such that it appears to be a block, or indeed style a block so that it is rendered inline. The use of the terms inline and block in HTML refers to the relationship of the elements to the semantic structure of the document, whereas the same terms in CSS are related more to the visual styling of the elements. If you make inline elements display in a blocky manner, that's fine.

    However you should ensure that the structure of the document still makes sense when CSS is not present, for example when accessed via an assistive technology such as a screen reader - or indeed when examined by the mighty Googlebot.