OPTGROUP - Option Group



Attribute Specifications

LABEL=Text (group label)
DISABLED (disable group of choices)
[4.0] ID=string
[4.0] CLASS=string
[4.0] STYLE=string
[4.0] TITLE=string
[4.0] LANG=Language (i.e. RU - Russian)
[4.0] DIR=ltr|rtl


One or more OPTION elements

Contained in



The OPTGROUP element defines a group of choices within a SELECT menu. OPTGROUP must contain one or more OPTION elements to define the actual choices.


The required LABEL attribute specifies the group label presented to the user. The LABEL should describe the group of choices available through the OPTGROUP's OPTIONs. Each OPTION generally uses a LABEL attribute as well to provide a shortened label that, together with the OPTGROUP's LABEL, gives a complete description of the option. An example follows:

<P>Which Web browser do you use most often?
  <SELECT NAME=browser>
    <OPTGROUP LABEL="Netscape Navigator">
      <OPTION LABEL="4.x or higher">
        Netscape Navigator 4.x or higher
      <OPTION LABEL="3.x">Netscape Navigator 3.x</OPTION>
      <OPTION LABEL="2.x">Netscape Navigator 2.x</OPTION>
      <OPTION LABEL="1.x">Netscape Navigator 1.x</OPTION>
    <OPTGROUP LABEL="Microsoft Internet Explorer">
      <OPTION LABEL="4.x or higher">
        Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.x or higher
      <OPTION LABEL="3.x">Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.x</OPTION>
      <OPTION LABEL="2.x">Microsoft Internet Explorer 2.x</OPTION>
      <OPTION LABEL="1.x">Microsoft Internet Explorer 1.x</OPTION>
    <OPTGROUP LABEL="Opera">
      <OPTION LABEL="3.x or higher">Opera 3.x or higher</OPTION>
      <OPTION LABEL="2.x">Opera 2.x</OPTION>

OPTGROUP is not well supported by current browsers, but its design allows authors to use it today without sacrificing compatibility with non-supporting browsers. Supporting browsers will render the preceding example using the LABEL attribute of OPTION to provide just the version number, along with the OPTGROUP's LABEL, which gives the full name of the application. This allows a compact display with easy-to-use cascading menus.

Non-supporting browsers will ignore the OPTGROUP elements and LABEL attributes, providing the full name and version for each choice. Thus authors can fully use OPTGROUP despite its lack of browser support.

Note that, in HTML 4.0, OPTGROUP is limited to containing only OPTION elements, thus preventing nested OPTGROUPs with multi-level cascades. Future versions of HTML may add support for nested option groups.


The boolean DISABLED attribute makes the option group unavailable. The options of a disabled option group cannot be selected by the user and are never submitted with the form.

[4.0] ID

The ID attribute uniquely identifies an element within a document. No two elements can have the same ID value in a single document. The attribute's value must begin with a letter in the range A-Z or a-z and may be followed by letters (A-Za-z), digits (0-9), hyphens ("-"), underscores ("_"), colons (":"), and periods (".").

The following example uses the ID attribute to identify each of the first two paragraphs of a document:

<P ID=firstp>My first paragraph.</P>
<P ID=second>My second paragaph.</P>

The paragraphs in the example could have style rules associated with them through their ID attributes. The following Cascading Style Sheet defines unique colors for the two paragraphs:

P#firstp {
  color: navy;
  background: transparent

P#secondp {
  color: black;
  background: transparent

The paragraphs in the initial example could also be used as a target anchor for links:

<P>See <A HREF="#firstp">the opening paragraph</A> for more information.</P>

Note that most browsers do not support the ID attribute for link anchors. For current browsers, authors should use <A NAME>...</A> within the element instead of ID.

Since ID and NAME share the same name space, authors cannot use the same value for an ID attribute and a NAME attribute in the same document. Also note that while NAME may contain entities, the ID attribute value may not.

[4.0] CLASS

The CLASS attribute specifies the element to be a member of one or more classes. Classes allow authors to define specific kinds of a given element. For example, an author could use <CODE CLASS=Java> when giving Java code and <CODE CLASS=Perl> when giving Perl code.

Unlike with the ID attribute, any number of elements can share the same class. An element may also belong to multiple classes; the CLASS attribute value is a space-separated list of class names.

Note that most current browsers do not support multiple classes. Such browsers typically ignore a CLASS attribute that specifies multiple classes.

The CLASS attribute is particularly useful when combined with style sheets. For example, consider the following navigation bar:

<DIV CLASS=navbar>
<P><A HREF="/">Home</A> | <A HREF="./">Index</A> | <A HREF="/search.html">Search</A></P>
<P><A HREF="/"><IMG SRC="logo.gif" ALT="" TITLE="WDG Logo"></A></P>

This example's use of the CLASS attribute allows style rules to easily be added. The following Cascading Style Sheet suggests a presentation for the preceding example:

.navbar {
  margin-top: 2em;
  padding-top: 1em;
  border-top: solid thin navy

.navbar IMG { float: right }

@media print {
  .navbar { display: none }
[4.0] STYLE

The STYLE attribute allows authors to specify style rules inline for a single occurrence of an element. An example follows:

<P>A popular font for on-screen reading is <SPAN STYLE="font-family: Verdana">Verdana</SPAN>.</P>

When the STYLE attribute is used, a default style sheet language must be specified for the document by setting the Content-Style-Type HTTP header to the media type of the style sheet language. The previous example could use the following META element in the document's HEAD:

<META HTTP-EQUIV="Content-Style-Type" CONTENT="text/css">

In most cases, use of the CLASS or ID attributes is a better choice than using STYLE since ID and CLASS can be selectively applied to different media and since they provide a separation of content and presentation that often simplifies maintenance.

[4.0] TITLE

The TITLE attribute provides a title for an element and is commonly implemented as a "tooltip" on visual browsers, though many browsers lack support for TITLE. The attribute is most useful with A, LINK, IMG, and OBJECT elements, where it provides a title for the linked or embedded resource. Some examples follow:

TITLE is also helpful with the ABBR and ACRONYM elements to provide the long form of the abbreviation. Examples:

Internationalization Attributes

[4.0] LANG

The LANG attribute specifies the language of an element's attribute values and its content, including all contained elements that do not specify their own LANG attribute. While the LANG attribute is not widely supported, its use may help search engines index a document by its language while allowing speech synthesizers to use language-dependent pronunciation rules. As well, visual browsers can use the language's proper quotation marks when rendering the Q element.

The attribute value is case-insensitive, and should be specified according to RFC 1766; examples include en for English, en-US for American English, and ja for Japanese. Whitespace is not allowed in the language code.

Use of the LANG attribute also allows authors to easily change the style of text depending on the language. For example, a bilingual document may have one language in italics if rendered visually or a different voice if rendered aurally. The HTML of such a document might be as follows:

<TITLE>Welcome - Bienvenue</TITLE>
  <SPAN LANG=en>Welcome</SPAN> -
  <SPAN LANG=fr>Bienvenue</SPAN>
<P LANG=en>This paragraph is in English.</P>
<P LANG=fr>Ce paragraphe est en français.</P>

A document's primary language may be set using the LANG attribute on the HTML element, or, alternatively, by using the Content-Language HTTP header.

[4.0] DIR

The DIR attribute specifies the directionality of text--left-to-right (DIR=ltr, the default) or right-to-left (DIR=rtl). Characters in Unicode are assigned a directionality, left-to-right or right-to-left, to allow the text to be rendered properly. For example, while English characters are presented left-to-right, Hebrew characters are presented right-to-left.

Unicode defines a bidirectional algorithm that must be applied whenever a document contains right-to-left characters. While this algorithm usually gives the proper presentation, some situations leave directionally neutral text and require the DIR attribute to specify the base directionality.

Text is often directionally neutral when there are multiple embeddings of content with a different directionality. For example, an English sentence that contains a Hebrew phrase that contains an English quotation would require the DIR attribute to define the directionality of the Hebrew phrase. The Hebrew phrase, including the English quotation, should be contained within a SPAN element with DIR=rtl.

[4.0] Scripting Events

A number of attributes that define client-side scripting events are common to most elements. The attribute value is a script--typically a function call or a few short statements--that is executed when the event occurs. The value may contain entities (e.g., &quot;).

The following example features JavaScript code to handle two events of a submit button, giving the user a reminder in the status bar when the mouse moves over the button and clearing the status bar when the mouse moves away. Note that the attribute values are delimited by single quotes since double quotes are used within them.

<INPUT TYPE=submit ONMOUSEOVER='window.status="Did you fill in all required fields?";' ONMOUSEOUT='window.status="";'>

When an event attribute is used, a default scripting language must be specified for the document by setting the Content-Script-Type HTTP header to the media type of the scripting language. The previous example could use the following META element in the document's HEAD:

<META HTTP-EQUIV="Content-Script-Type" CONTENT="text/javascript">

The common event attributes are device-dependent and largely tailored for the graphical user interface. The available events are as follows:

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