Difference Between HTML4 and HTML5

Difference Between HTML4 and HTML5

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Updated on Dec 29, 2023 07:02 IST

HTML is the base language that makes up most of the web pages and online applications. Like other programming languages, HTML has been updated several times over years. HTML5 is the current version of HTML that brings many new and advanced features and improvements over its predecessor, i.e. HTML4. Let's understand more!


HTML 4 and HTML 5 are two versions of the HyperText Markup Language (HTML), which is the standard language used to create and design web pages and web applications. In this blog, we will see the differences between them in detail.

Table of Content

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What are the differences between HTML 4 and HTML 5

HTML4 and HTML5 are the two versions of HTML that offer more features than the earlier versions. The following table depicts the main differences between HTML4 and HTML5.




Release Date


October 2014

Doctype Declaration

Lengthy and complex

Simplified: <!DOCTYPE html>

Vector Graphics

Requires plug-ins like Adobe Flash

Native support with <svg>

Audio/Video Support

Requires external plugins (like Flash)

Native support with <audio> and <video>


Limited semantic elements

Rich semantic elements like <article>, <nav>, <section>, <header>, <footer>

APIs and DOM

Limited API support

Extensive APIs (offline storage, drag-drop, etc.)


Limited; mainly through external plugins

Canvas API for 2D/3D graphics


Cookies for client-side storage

Local storage, session storage



Improved with new semantic elements

Browser Compatibility

Consistent across modern browsers

Varies; older browsers require polyfills

Mobile Support


Enhanced, with features for mobile optimization

Form Controls

Basic controls

New form controls like calendar, date, time, color picker


Heavily reliant on external scripts

More integrated scripting capabilities


Less emphasis on document structure

Strong focus on document structure


HTML is the core markup language for the World Wide Web. It is also known as HTML v 1.0 and is the first version of HTML markup. HTML was designed to support linking among online resources.

While the first version of HTML was written by Tim Berners-Lee in 1993, it has been revamped many times since then to provide more features and uses. HTML5 is the current version of HTML. We will know more about HTML5 and its previous version HTML4 in the next sections.

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What is HTML4?

HTML 4.0 is an iteration of HTML 3.2 version. It offers many new features over its predecessors, such as style sheets, embedding objects, richer tables, object support, and more. It is compatible with many web browsers. HTML 4 was one of the major updates published as a W3C Recommendation in 1997.

An HTML 4 document starts with a DOCTYPE declaration and contains a HEAD and a BODY. Its elements have three parts: a start tag, content, and end tag.

Structure of an HTML4 Document

<title>Document title goes here</title>
<h1>Main heading goes here</h1>
<p>Paragraph content goes here</p>
Copy code
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What is HTML5?

HTML5 is the fifth version of HTML. This version was released in 2014. HTML5 comes with new and advanced features. It allows developers to build animations and simple to complex applications that run on the browser.

HTML5 can help developers build web apps, which are developed for Entertainment, Online streaming, Video players, Audio players, etc.

In the previous versions, for video playback and drag-and-drop features, users had to depend on third-party browser plug-ins, like Adobe Flash. However, HTML5 offers all these features to the users along with many other new features and HTML attributes for building attractive websites. Almost all web browsers, including Google Chrome, Safari, Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge, and mobile browsers, such as Android and iOS support most of the HTML5 features.

Key Features of HTML5

  • Cleaner code structure
  • Plain and simple Doctype declaration: <!DOCTYPE html>
  • Audio and video tags
  • Cross-browser compatibility
  • Canvas for animation and game development
  • Offline browsing
  • Geolocation support
  • Improved semantics
  • Improved storage
  • Provides search engine optimization benefits

Structure of an HTML5 Document

<meta charset="utf-8">
<title>Document title goes here</title>
<h1>Main heading goes here</h1>
<p>Paragraph content goes here</p>
Copy code

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In this blog on HTML4 vs HTML5, we discussed the main difference between HTML4 and HTML5. HTML 5 is the latest and more advanced version of HTML 4. HTML5 comes with new tags, new features, and has simplified various functions. While many people considered HTML 4 a bit complicated, HTML5 offers more flexibility to developers in making a stunning website.


Why is HTML5 important?

In today's modern era of technology, HTML5 helps us create simple webpage layouts easily. It helps us add images, graphics, videos, much more to the web pages without needing extra software. It comes with several advanced features that are not available with previous versions of HTML. HTML5 also works across all devices and all modern browsers support it.

Who can learn HTML?

Yes, HTML5 is an easy and simple language that can be learned before learning any advanced programming language. It is a great language to start with for those who want to learn web development. Those interested in working in the IT industry or as web designers can also benefit from learning HTML.

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