How XHTML Differs from HTML in Web Design?


May 5, 2023
How XHTML Differs from HTML in Web Design?

XHTML is stricter than HTML, enforcing a cleaner structure and syntax. It also has better support for XML namespaces and is compatible with more devices.

In the world of web design and development, two acronyms have been circulating around for quite some time - HTML and XHTML. While both are markup languages used to create web pages, there are some significant differences between the two. In this article, we will explore the differences between HTML and XHTML and how it affects web design.

HTML vs. XHTML: What's the difference?


HTML and XHTML share a lot of similarities in terms of syntax. However, XHTML is stricter in its syntax rules. XHTML requires that all tags be closed and nested correctly, while HTML allows for some flexibility in this regard. Additionally, XHTML requires all tags to be in lowercase, whereas HTML allows for uppercase tags.

Document Type Declaration (DTD):

In HTML, the Document Type Declaration (DTD) is optional. In XHTML, however, the DTD is required and must be the first line of the document. The DTD tells the browser which version of XHTML the document is using and how it should be interpreted.

Element Nesting:

As mentioned earlier, XHTML requires that all tags be closed and nested correctly. This means that every opening tag must have a corresponding closing tag, and all tags must be nested correctly. In HTML, however, some tags do not require closing tags.

Case Sensitivity:

XHTML is case-sensitive when it comes to tag and attribute names. This means that all tags and attributes must be written in lowercase. HTML, on the other hand, is not case-sensitive.


In XHTML, all attributes must have a value. For example, the href attribute in an XHTML document must have a value, even if it is empty. In HTML, empty attributes are allowed. Additionally, XHTML requires that all attribute values be enclosed in quotes.

Entity References:

In XHTML, entity references must be written in the correct syntax. For example, the less-than sign < must be written as <. In HTML, however, entity references are not required to be in the correct syntax.

MIME Types:

MIME types are used to specify the type of content being served. In XHTML, the MIME type must be specified as application/xhtml+xml. In HTML, the MIME type is text/html.

XHTML Advantages and Disadvantages


XHTML has several advantages over HTML. For one, it is stricter in its syntax rules, which can lead to cleaner and more consistent code. Additionally, XHTML documents can be parsed by XML parsers, which can help catch errors in the code.


One disadvantage of XHTML is that it is not as forgiving as HTML. This means that a single error in the code can cause the entire document to fail to load. Additionally, some older browsers may not support XHTML.

How to Convert HTML to XHTML?

Converting an HTML document to an XHTML document is a straightforward process. First, the document must be modified to conform to the stricter syntax rules of XHTML. This includes closing all tags, using lowercase tags and attributes, and adding attribute values where necessary.

Once the document has been modified, it must be saved with an XHTML file extension (.xhtml). Finally, the document's MIME type must be changed to application/xhtml+xml in order to be served as an XHTML document.


In conclusion, while both HTML and XHTML are used to create web pages, there are significant differences between the two. XHTML is stricter in its syntax rules and requires a Document Type Declaration, while HTML is more forgiving and allows for more flexibility in its syntax. However, XHTML has some advantages, such as cleaner and more consistent code, and the ability to be parsed by XML parsers.

Ultimately, the decision to use HTML or XHTML will depend on the specific requirements of the project and the developer's preferences. However, it is important for web designers and developers to understand the differences between the two and how they can affect web design.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q.Is XHTML still used?

A.XHTML is still used, but it has largely been replaced by HTML5.

Q.Is XHTML better than HTML5?

A.There is no clear answer to this question. XHTML is stricter in its syntax rules, which can lead to cleaner and more consistent code. However, HTML5 has more features and is more forgiving in its syntax.

Q.Can XHTML be used with CSS?

A.Yes, XHTML can be used with CSS.

Q.How do I know if a website is using HTML or XHTML?

A.You can view the source code of the website and look for the Document Type Declaration (DTD). If the DTD specifies application/xhtml+xml, then the website is using XHTML. If it specifies text/html, then the website is using HTML.

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