How to Add a Target Attribute in HTML: A Simple Guide for Beginners

By Cristian G. Guasch •  Updated: 09/18/23 •  8 min read

Ever wondered how to improve your website’s functionality? It’s all in the details. One such detail is knowing how to add a target attribute in HTML. This little piece of code can transform your user’s browsing experience by controlling how links open on your site.

Let me tell you, mastering HTML attributes, like the target attribute, isn’t as daunting as it might sound. With a bit of guidance and practice, you’ll be tweaking your website like a pro.

You see, the target attribute in HTML defines where to open the linked document. It could be in a new browser tab (_blank), the same frame or window (_self), the parent frame (_parent), or even a named iframe. Understanding these options will give you more control over your site’s navigation and overall user experience! Diving into the world of HTML, one can’t help but encounter a plethora of elements and attributes that make the language so dynamic. You see, HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) is like the backbone of any webpage we interact with today. It gives structure to web content and it’s used by search engines to rank websites. Now let’s shine the spotlight on one tiny yet mighty attribute in HTML: ‘target’.

The ‘target’ attribute in HTML is used to specify where a link should open. Think about this – you’re reading an interesting article online and there’s a link embedded within the text. When you click on it, what happens? Does it open up right there, replacing your current page or does it pop open in a new tab? Well, that’s defined by our little friend here.

Let me show you how easy it is to use this handy feature through some examples:

<!-- This will open the linked document in a new window or tab -->
<a href="" target="_blank">Visit</a>

<!-- This will open the linked document in the same frame as clicked -->
<a href="" target="_self">Visit</a>

See how simple that was? But wait, there’s more! The ‘target’ attribute can take other values too like _parent, which opens up your linked document in parent frame set; _top: busts out of all framesets and opens up your linked doc as top-level; and even frame names if you’ve named them.

Each usage varies based on context and need but remember – while target may seem small, don’t underestimate its power when designing user-friendly web experiences!

Steps to Add a Target Attribute in HTML

Here’s the thing: using the target attribute in HTML isn’t as daunting as it might seem. I’ll guide you through each step, and by the end of this section, you’ll be well on your way to becoming an adept coder!

First off, let’s get our hands dirty with some basic HTML syntax. You’ve probably seen a standard hyperlink tag that looks something like this:

<a href="">Visit!</a>

Easy peasy, right? But what if we want the link to open in a new tab when clicked? That’s where our trusty target attribute comes into play!

Next up is adding our target attribute into the mix. Just pop it right into your <a> tag like so:

<a href="" target="_blank">Visit!</a>

You see how _blank is listed after target= ? That little snippet tells your browser “Hey! Open this link in a new tab!”. There are other values you can use too such as _self_parent, and _top. These have different uses but for now, let’s stick with good ol’ _blank.

Now that we’re getting comfortable with targets, let me show you another neat trick. Instead of always having links open in new tabs (_blank), why not have them open in specific frames? This can be handy especially when dealing with multiple frames or iframes on your page. Here’s how it rolls:

<a href="" target="frame_name">Open in frame_name</a>

In this case frame_name refers to name of the frame where you’d like the link to load.

And there you have it folks! We’ve just scratched the surface of what’s possible with the target attribute in HTML. Practice these steps, play around with different values, and you’ll soon find adding the target attribute to be a breeze!

Common Errors When Implementing the Target Attribute

Let’s dive right into some of the common pitfalls that may trip you up when implementing the target attribute in HTML. I’ve got firsthand experience with these, and I’m here to help you avoid them.

The first error I often encounter is simply forgetting to include the equals sign between “target” and its value. It might sound basic, but trust me, it can happen more often than you’d think. For example, instead of writing target"_blank", it should be target="_blank".

Secondly, there’s typos or incorrect values for the target attribute. It’s crucial to remember that there are only five valid options: _self_blank_parent_top and frame name. Any other word will not work as expected! If you write target="blanck", your link won’t open in a new tab since “blanck” isn’t a recognized value!

Then we have an issue where developers use a target attribute on an element that doesn’t support it. Remember folks, only <a><area><base>, and <form> tags accept this attribute! So if you’re trying something like <div target="_blank">Click Me!</div>, it just won’t work.

Another problematic scenario occurs when developers forget to specify a URL for their hyperlink while adding a target attribute. Simply having something like <a href="" target="_blank">Click me</a> isn’t going to cut it because there’s nowhere for your browser to navigate!

Lastly, keep an eye out for inconsistencies across different browsers. Although HTML5 standards are generally consistent across all modern web browsers, older versions may interpret certain elements differently – including our friend, the ‘target’ attribute.

So there they are – some common missteps with using the ‘target’ attribute in HTML! By keeping these in mind, you’ll avoid unnecessary frustrations and have a smoother coding experience.

Best Practices for Using HTML Target Attributes

When diving into the world of HTML, you’ll stumble upon a concept called ‘target attributes’. This is an important tool under your belt as a web developer, and knowing how to use it correctly can make all the difference. It’s easy to get carried away with opening new tabs or windows, but remember that user experience should always come first.

First off, let me clarify what target attributes are. In essence, they define where to open the linked document. There are four types: _self (opens in the same tab or window), _blank (opens in a new tab or window), _parent (opens in the parent frame), and _top (opens in full body of window). Here’s how you’d use them:

<a href="page.html" target="_blank">This link will open in a new tab</a>

However, there’s more to using these attributes than simply slapping them into your code. Let’s talk about some best practices.

  1. Be mindful when using ‘_blank’. While it might seem like a good idea to keep users on your page while also leading them elsewhere, it can be frustrating if done excessively. It’s often better to give users control over their tabs and windows.
  2. Don’t forget about accessibility! Screen readers struggle with links that open new windows or tabs without warning. Always include descriptive text alongside your link so visually impaired users aren’t left confused.
  3. Lastly, security is key! When using ‘_blank’, browsers have access to the ‘window.opener’ property which could lead to some nasty phishing attacks if not careful. To avoid this, add rel=”noreferrer noopener” after specifying ‘_blank’.

Here is an example:

<a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Go to</a>

By adhering to these practices, you’ll ensure a smooth user experience while maintaining the integrity of your webpage. Remember, it’s not just about making things work—it’s also about creating an inviting and secure environment for your users!

Cristian G. Guasch

Hey! I'm Cristian Gonzalez, I created HTML Easy to help you learn HTML easily and fast.

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