1. html
  2. /tags
  3. /u



The <u> element marks a segment of inline text with a non-textual annotation, often used for highlighting misspelled words or proper names in specific languages. While typically rendered as a solid underline, this style can be customized using CSS. The annotation applied through the <u> element is distinct from textual annotations that explain or emphasize content, as it conveys information about the text itself.

Examples and Usage

To clarify, the <u> element has evolved in its role within HTML. Historically, it was used to underline text, but with the advent of HTML5, its purpose shifted to marking non-textual annotations such as misspelled words or proper names in specific languages like Chinese. CSS is now the preferred method for simple underlining, reserving the <u> element for more specialized annotations.

A potential and proper use case for the element is to highlight misspelled words within a text. This can be helpful in editorial contexts or educational platforms where identifying incorrect spelling is essential.

Here's an example:

<p>I have a <u>freind</u> who loves to <u>travell</u> around the world.</p>

The browser will render the text between the <u> tags as a solid underline. This will be the default visual cue for the misspelled words.

We can improve this and make the misspellings more noticeable. Many textual editors use a red dashed or wavy underline to indicate spelling errors. Let's turn to CSS and apply a red dashed underline:

<p>I have a <u class="misspelled">freind</u> who loves to <u class="misspelled">travell</u> around the world.</p>
u.misspelled {
  text-decoration: red dashed underline;

This styling aligns better with common visual cues for spelling errors and provides a clear indication of the text's status.

Attribute Breakdown

The <u> element doesn't have any specific attributes; it inherits global attributes common to all HTML elements.

Accessibility Aspects

The <u> element does not have distinct accessibility considerations. According to the specification, it defaults to a role of generic, but this role's usage is discouraged. The element prohibits the use of ARIA naming techniques and allows global aria-* attributes and those applicable to allowed roles.

Associated Elements

Other elements to consider instead of <u> for specific use cases:

  • <b>
  • <cite>
  • <em>
  • <i>
  • <mark>
  • <ruby>
  • <strong>

Additional Notes

  • Steer clear of using the <u> element where it might be confused with hyperlinks, which are also commonly underlined. The explicit rendering of non-textual annotations should be clear and distinct from hyperlink styling.

  • The <u> element's role has evolved from simply underlining text to marking non-textual annotations. This shift in HTML5 reflects an emphasis on semantic meaning over presentation.

  • Using CSS for underlining or employing other elements for semantic emphasis is generally more aligned with modern web development practices.

Browser Compatibility

For a detailed breakdown of specific browser nuances and older version support refer to the first link in the Useful Resources below.

BrowserChromeEdgeSafariFirefoxOperaInternet Explorer

Useful Resources

Can I use HTML element: u

The HTML Living Standard Specification: u