How to Underline Text in HTML: Your Quick and Easy Guide

By Cristian G. Guasch •  Updated: 09/18/23 •  7 min read

I’m guessing you’ve landed here because you’re eager to learn how to underline text in HTML. Well, you’re in luck! I’ll be diving straight into the nuts and bolts of underlining text within your HTML documents. It’s a simple yet essential skill that can significantly enhance the readability and hierarchy of your content.

To underline text in HTML, we typically utilize CSS properties, particularly ‘text-decoration’. While there are other methods available too, this one is most commonly used due to its versatility. But hey, don’t worry if it sounds a bit technical right now. I promise to guide you through each step with clear instructions and examples.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the various ways to underline text—ranging from using basic HTML tags like ‘<u>’ (although they’re not much in favor these days) to more advanced CSS techniques. By the end of this article, I guarantee that underlining text will feel like second nature to you! So let’s get started on our coding adventure.

Understanding HTML and Its Syntax

Diving right into it, HTML – HyperText Markup Language – is the backbone of any webpage you visit. It’s the standard markup language that structures content on the web. It basically tells your browser how to display text, images, and other forms of media on a page.

Now let’s talk about syntax. In its simplest form, HTML consists of various elements enclosed within tags (<tagname>). These tags usually come in pairs: an opening tag (<tagname>) and a closing tag (</tagname>). The content goes between these two.

For instance, if I want to create a paragraph on my webpage, I’d use the p tag like so:

<p>This is a paragraph.</p>

But what if we want to underline some text? That’s where the u tag comes in handy! Just wrap your desired text with this tag:

<u>This will be underlined.</u>

And voila! Your text is now underlined.

However, it’s important to note that using <u> for underlining can sometimes be seen as bad practice because it may confuse readers who are used to seeing underlined text as hyperlinks. An alternative way would be using CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) which gives you more control over styling but that’s another topic altogether.

Remember though, just because you CAN underline doesn’t mean you always SHOULD. Underline sparingly; too much can make your webpage look cluttered and hard to read!

That wraps up our brief overview of HTML and its syntax. Keep exploring for more ways to manipulate your webpage design with various tags and attributes!

The Basics of Text Formatting in HTML

Diving into the world of web development, understanding how to format text with HTML is a basic requirement. It’s one such skill that helps your content stand out on the webpage. Now, let’s talk about underlining text using HTML.

The primary tag used for this purpose is the <u> tag. Here’s how you’d use it:

<u>This is an underlined text.</u>

When you write your text between these tags, it appears as an underlined text on your webpage. Simple enough, isn’t it? But remember, this tag doesn’t just underline words; you can underline sentences and even entire paragraphs too!

However, there’s a little more to it than meets the eye. If you’re looking for semantic meaning (like indicating a misspelled word), you might want to opt for other tags like <ins> or <del>, which also display as underlined by default.

Here are examples of how they work:

<ins>This signifies inserted text.</ins>

<del>This represents deleted text.</del>

While these tags underline your content by default, their actual intention is different from simply applying style.

Another way to underline in HTML involves using CSS properties with the style attribute:

<p style="text-decoration: underline;">This paragraph is underlined using CSS</p>

This method gives us more control over our styles but might not be ideal if we’re focusing solely on HTML.

Each approach has its place depending on what you’re trying to achieve – whether that’s purely aesthetic or carries semantic value. So go ahead and explore each option based on what fits best with your coding goals!

Step-by-Step Guide: Underlining Text in HTML

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of how to underline text in HTML. I’ll break it down into simple, easy-to-follow steps.

First things first, you need to understand that underlining text in HTML isn’t as straightforward as bolding or italicizing. The key tag we’ll use here is the <u> tag. It surrounds the text you want underlined, like this:

<u>This is an underlined sentence.</u>

When rendered on a webpage, it’ll look something like this:

This is an underlined sentence.

However, it’s worth pointing out that using the <u> tag is generally discouraged because underlined text can be mistaken for a hyperlink. For better web practices and accessibility reasons, CSS should be used instead for stylistic changes such as underlining.

So here’s another way: use CSS with inline styles or external stylesheets. Here’s an example of inline styling:

<p style="text-decoration:underline;">This is an underlined paragraph.</p>

But wait! There’s more! We’ve got some variations for you too! Want only a part of your text to be underlined? No problem!

<p>This <span style="text-decoration:underline;">word</span> is underlined.</p>

In this code snippet above, only ‘word’ will be underlined while leaving the rest of the sentence intact!

And there you have it! That’s all there is to know about highlighting your words with those sleek lines beneath them – whether they’re single words or whole paragraphs. But remember – use these techniques sparingly so as not to confuse your users who might mistake them for hyperlinks.

Common Mistakes When Underlining Text in HTML

My years of experience in this field have allowed me to observe a number of common mistakes people make when underlining text in HTML. An understanding of these pitfalls can save you a lot of time and frustration.

One mistake that frequently pops up is the misuse of the <u> tag. Many beginners assume it’s the go-to for underlining, but this isn’t always true. The <u> tag was deprecated (meaning it’s not recommended for use) in HTML4, but then repurposed in HTML5 to denote unarticulated annotations. Here’s an example:

<u>This is some text.</u>

This will underline your text, yes, but the correct way to underline text semantically (in a way that makes sense structurally and meaningfully) would be through CSS styling instead:

<p style="text-decoration: underline;">This is some text.</p>

Another common error occurs when folks try to underline links using only color changes. But from an accessibility standpoint, underlines are important! They provide a clear visual cue for users with color-blindness or low-contrast vision.

<a href="#" style="color: blue;">This is a link</a>

To ensure maximum accessibility, it’s better to include an underline:

<a href="#" style="color: blue; text-decoration: underline;">This is a link</a>

Thirdly, I’ve seen developers misuse inline styles by directly adding them into every single element they need underlined—a time-consuming and inefficient practice!

Instead of:

<p style="text-decoration:underline;">Hello world!</p>
<p style="text-decoration:underline;">How are you?</p>

It would be more efficient to define a CSS class that could be reused as many times as necessary:

.underline {
  text-decoration: underline;

<p class="underline">Hello world!</p>
<p class="underline">How are you?</p>

Avoiding these common mistakes can greatly enhance your HTML coding experience and the quality of your web pages. Remember, it’s not just about getting things done—it’s about doing them right!

Cristian G. Guasch

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

Related articles