Deprecated Tags in HTML 4.0

By Sue Charlesworth

Deprecated tags and attributes are those that have been replaced by other, newer, HTML constructs. Deprecated tags are still included in the HTML draft or recommendation but are clearly marked as deprecated. Once deprecated, tags may well become obsolete. The draft "strongly urges" the nonuse of deprecated tags.


<ISINDEX> allowed a form to contain a simple string search. This action should be replaced by an <INPUT> form element.


The <APPLET>...</APPLET> tag enabled the running of a Java applet. This tag has been replaced by the more encompassing <OBJECT>...</OBJECT> tag.


The <CENTER>...</CENTER> tag, oddly enough, centered text or graphics. <CENTER> is deprecated in favor of <DIV> tag with the align attribute set to "center."


<FONT>...</FONT>allowed the specification of font sizes, colors, and faces. Style sheets, rather than HTML code, have taken over character formatting duties.

NOTE: Based as it is on SGML, HTML purists have never been happy using markup--the description of a document's structure--to define presentation, or how a document appears. With the formal (pending) adoption of style sheets, character formatting can be taken out of HTML code.


<BASEFONT>...</BASEFONT> set a base font size that could then be referenced for size increases or decreases. Use style sheets instead to set and reference relative font sizes.

<STRIKE>...</STRIKE> and <S>...</S>  

Both <STRIKE>...</STRIKE> and <S>...</S> created strikethrough characters. Replace these tags with style sheets.


<U>...</U> created underlined characters. As with the tags above, use style sheets to create underlines.


Moving away from fonts, we have the <DIR>...</DIR> tag. <DIR> describes a directory list. While originally designed to output elements in horizontal columns like UNIX directory listings, browsers formatted <DIR> lists like unordered lists. As there is no difference between the two, use a <UL>...</UL> list instead of a <DIR>...</DIR> list.


<MENU>...</MENU> lists have also fallen by the wayside. The <MENU> tag described single-column menu lists. As with <DIR> lists, browsers made no distinction between <MENU> and <UL> lists. Use <UL>...</UL> lists instead of <MENU>ones.

from Special Edition Using HTML 4: Appendix A
What's New in HTML 4.0

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