Computer Science M8

HTML Form Elements

This chapter describes all HTML form elements.

The <input> Element

The most important form element is the <input> element.

The <input> element can be displayed in several ways, depending on the type attribute.

All the different input types are covered in the next chapter.

The <select> Element

The <select> element defines a drop-down list:


<select name="cars">
  <option value="volvo">Volvo</option>
  <option value="saab">Saab</option>
  <option value="fiat">Fiat</option>
  <option value="audi">Audi</option>

The <option> elements defines an option that can be selected.

By default, the first item in the drop-down list is selected.

To define a pre-selected option, add the selected attribute to the option:


<option value="fiat" selected>Fiat</option>

The <textarea> Element

The <textarea> element defines a multi-line input field (a text area):


<textarea name="message" rows="10" cols="30">
The cat was playing in the garden.

The rows attribute specifies the visible number of lines in a text area.

The cols attribute specifies the visible width of a text area.

This is how the HTML code above will be displayed in a browser:


The <button> Element

The <button> element defines a clickable button:


<button type="button" onclick="alert('Hello World!')">Click Me!</button>

This is how the HTML code above will be displayed in a browser:


HTML5 Form Elements

HTML5 added the following form elements:

  • <datalist>
  • <keygen>
  • <output>

Note: Browsers do not display unknown elements. New elements that are not supported in older browsers will not "destroy" your web page.

HTML5 <datalist> Element

The <datalist> element specifies a list of pre-defined options for an <input> element.

Users will see a drop-down list of the pre-defined options as they input data.

The list attribute of the <input> element, must refer to the id attribute of the <datalist> element.

OperaSafariChromeFirefoxInternet Explorer


<form action="/action_page.php">
  <input list="browsers">
  <datalist id="browsers">
    <option value="Internet Explorer">
    <option value="Firefox">
    <option value="Chrome">
    <option value="Opera">
    <option value="Safari">

HTML5 <keygen> Element

The purpose of the <keygen> element is to provide a secure way to authenticate users.

The <keygen> element specifies a key-pair generator field in a form.

When the form is submitted, two keys are generated, one private and one public.

The private key is stored locally, and the public key is sent to the server.

The public key could be used to generate a client certificate to authenticate the user in the future.

OperaSafariChromeFirefoxInternet Explorer


A form with a keygen field:

<form action="/action_page.php">
  Username: <input type="text" name="user">
  Encryption: <keygen name="security">
  <input type="submit">

HTML5 <output> Element

The <output> element represents the result of a calculation (like one performed by a script).

OperaSafariChromeFirefoxInternet Explorer


Perform a calculation and show the result in an <output> element:

<form action="/action_page.php"

  <input type="range"  id="a" name="a" value="50">
  100 +
  <input type="number" id="b" name="b" value="50">
  <output name="x" for="a b"></output>
  <input type="submit">


HTML Form Elements

= new in HTML5.

Tag Description
<form> Defines an HTML form for user input
<input> Defines an input control
<textarea> Defines a multiline input control (text area)
<label> Defines a label for an <input> element
<fieldset> Groups related elements in a form
<legend> Defines a caption for a <fieldset> element
<select> Defines a drop-down list
<optgroup> Defines a group of related options in a drop-down list
<option> Defines an option in a drop-down list
<button> Defines a clickable button
<datalist> Specifies a list of pre-defined options for input controls
<keygen> Defines a key-pair generator field (for forms)
<output> Defines the result of a calculation


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