XHTML (Extensible Hypertext Markup Language)

Extensible Hypertext Markup Language (XHTML) is part of the family of XML markup languages. It mirrors or extends versions of the widely used Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), the language in which Web pages are formulated.

While HTML, prior to HTML5, was defined as an application of Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML), a flexible markup language framework, XHTML is an application of XML, a more restrictive subset of SGML. XHTML documents are well-formed and may therefore be parsed using standard XML parsers, unlike HTML, which requires a lenient HTML-specific parser.

XHTML 1.0 became a World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Recommendation on January 26, 2000. XHTML 1.1 became a W3C Recommendation on May 31, 2001. The standard known as XHTML5 is being developed as an XML adaptation of the HTML5 specification.


There are various differences between XHTML and HTML. The Document Object Model (DOM) is a tree structure that represents the page internally in applications, and XHTML and HTML are two different ways of representing that in markup. Both are less expressive than the DOM — for example, “–” may be placed in comments in the DOM, but cannot be represented in a comment in either XHTML or HTML — and generally XHTML’s XML syntax is more expressive than HTML (for example, arbitrary namespaces are not allowed in HTML). XHTML uses an XML syntax, while HTML uses a pseudo-SGML syntax (officially SGML for HTML 4 and under, but never in practice, and standardised away from SGML in HTML5). Because the expressible contents of the DOM in syntax are slightly different, there are some changes in actual behavior between the two models.

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