HTML <em> Tag

By Jonathan Griffin. Editor, SEO Consultant, & Developer.

· 2 min read

Definition

The <em> tag is used to add semantic emphasis to words or text compared to the surrounding text.

Example

<p>You should <em>not</em> drive on the wrong side of the road.</p>

You should not drive on the wrong side of the road.

Usage

  • You must use an opening and closing tag.
  • Content displayed in an <em> tag is shown as italic. This can be further styled using CSS.
  • The following use cases show how using the <em> tag can change the meaning of the sentence, and as such becomes integral to the content:
    • General statement:
      <p>Cats are cute animals.</p>
    • Statement stressing that cats are cute, in contrast to say, dogs:
      <p><em>Cats</em> are cute animals.</p>
    • Statement arguing that cats are cute, in contrast to someone arguing that they are not cute:
      <p>Cats <em>are</em> cute animals.</p>
    • In this statement you might be arguing that cats are cute animals, not mean animals.
      <p>Cats are <em>cute<em> animals.</p>
    • If someone asserted that cats were human, you might want to stress that they are in fact, animals:
      <p>Cats are cute <em>animals</em>.</p>

Attributes

The <em> element only supports the Global Attributes.

Best Practices

  • You should not use the <em> element for generic italic styling. If you wish to make text or even a paragraph stand out from the rest of the content (for example, a lead paragraph), then the <i> element should be used.
  • The <em> element is used to stress certain words which may change the meaning or meaning of the sentence, not denote importance. To stress importance, use the <strong> tags.
  • You can read how Google uses <em> elements for ranking purposes here

Specification

Browser Support

Desktop

ChromeEdgeFirefoxIEOperaSafari
YesYesYesYesYesYes

Mobile

Android WebviewChrome AndroidFirefox AndroidOpera AndroidiOS SafariSamsung Internet
YesYesYesYesYesYes