The 'text/html' Media Type
RFC 2854

Document Type RFC - Informational (June 2000; No errata)
Was draft-connolly-text-html (individual)
Authors Larry Masinter  , Daniel Connolly 
Last updated 2013-03-02
Stream Legacy
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IESG IESG state RFC 2854 (Informational)
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Network Working Group                                        D. Connolly
Request for Comments: 2854               World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)
Obsoletes: 2070, 1980, 1942, 1867, 1866                      L. Masinter
Category: Informational                                             AT&T
                                                               June 2000

                       The 'text/html' Media Type

Status of this Memo

   This memo provides information for the Internet community.  It does
   not specify an Internet standard of any kind.  Distribution of this
   memo is unlimited.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2000).  All Rights Reserved.


   This document summarizes the history of HTML development, and defines
   the "text/html" MIME type by pointing to the relevant W3C
   recommendations; it is intended to obsolete the previous IETF
   documents defining HTML, including RFC 1866, RFC 1867, RFC 1980, RFC
   1942 and RFC 2070, and to remove HTML from IETF Standards Track.

   This document was prepared at the request of the W3C HTML working
   group. Please send comments to, a public mailing list
   with archive at <>.

1. Introduction and background

   HTML has been in use in the World Wide Web information infrastructure
   since 1990, and specified in various informal documents.  The
   text/html media type was first officially defined by the IETF HTML
   working group in 1995 in [HTML20]. Extensions to HTML were proposed
   in [HTML30], [UPLOAD], [TABLES], [CLIMAPS], and [I18N].

   The IETF HTML working group closed Sep 1996, and work on defining
   HTML moved to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The proposed
   extensions were incorporated to some extent in [HTML32], and to a
   larger extent in [HTML40]. The definition of multipart/form-data from
   [UPLOAD] was described in [FORMDATA]. In addition, a reformulation of
   HTML 4.0 in XML 1.0[XHTML1] was developed.

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RFC 2854               The 'text/html' Media Type              June 2000

   [HTML32] notes "This specification defines HTML version 3.2. HTML 3.2
   aims to capture recommended practice as of early '96 and as such to
   be used as a replacement for HTML 2.0 (RFC 1866)."  Subsequent
   specifications for HTML describe the differences in each version.

   In addition to the development of standards, a wide variety of
   additional extensions, restrictions, and modifications to HTML were
   popularized by NCSA's Mosaic system and subsequently by the
   competitive implementations of Netscape Navigator and Microsoft
   Internet Explorer; these extensions are documented in numerous books
   and online guides.

2. Registration of MIME media type text/html

   MIME media type name:      text
   MIME subtype name:         html
   Required parameters:       none
   Optional parameters:

         The optional parameter "charset" refers to the character
         encoding used to represent the HTML document as a sequence of
         bytes. Any registered IANA charset may be used, but UTF-8 is
         preferred.  Although this parameter is optional, it is strongly
         recommended that it always be present. See Section 6 below for
         a discussion of charset default rules.

      Note that [HTML20] included an optional "level" parameter; in
      practice, this parameter was never used and has been removed from
      this specification.  [HTML30] also suggested a "version"
      parameter; in practice, this parameter also was never used and has
      been removed from this specification.

   Encoding considerations:
      See Section 4 of this document.

   Security considerations:
      See Section 7 of this document.

   Interoperability considerations:
      HTML is designed to be interoperable across the widest possible
      range of platforms and devices of varying capabilities.  However,
      there are contexts (platforms of limited display capability, for
      example) where not all of the capabilities of the full HTML
      definition are feasible. There is ongoing work to develop both a
      modularization of HTML and a set of profiling capabilities to
      identify and negotiate restricted (and extended) capabilities.

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RFC 2854               The 'text/html' Media Type              June 2000

      Due to the long and distributed development of HTML, current
      practice on the Internet includes a wide variety of HTML variants.
      Implementors of text/html interpreters must be prepared to be
      "bug-compatible" with popular browsers in order to work with many
      HTML documents available the Internet.

      Typically, different versions are distinguishable by the DOCTYPE
      declaration contained within them, although the DOCTYPE
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