HTML <area> Tag: Usage, Attributes, and Examples with Ease

By Cristian G. Guasch •  Updated: 09/25/23 •  9 min read

As a web developer, I’ve found that harnessing the full potential of HTML can take your projects to the next level. One such element worth understanding is the HTML <area> tag. Mostly overlooked but incredibly useful, this tag can transform simple images into interactive maps, offering an engaging user experience.

To break it down, the <area> tag is employed within a map element and outlines clickable areas in an image map. Each area defined can be hyperlinked to different destinations – think of it as turning different portions of an image into separate clickable buttons. Coupled with attributes like ‘shape’, ‘coords’, and ‘href’, you’re able to create complex navigation options with just one image!

In the coming sections, I’ll share some practical examples and delve deeper into how you can effectively use this underrated tool in your HTML toolkit. Whether you’re a seasoned developer or someone just starting out, I’m confident that mastering the <area> tag will give your websites a unique edge.

Understanding the HTML <area> Tag

Diving right into it, let’s talk about the HTML <area> tag. It’s not exactly a household name when it comes to HTML tags. Yet, this often overlooked little gem has quite the role to play in image mapping.

Now, you might be wondering what image mapping is. Think of it as turning different parts of an image into clickable links. The <map> tag creates an image map and our hero – the <area> tag – defines those clickable areas within that map.

Let’s break down some attributes associated with this tag:

Here’s a quick example:

<img src="example.jpg" usemap="#imagemap">
<map name="imagemap">
  <area shape="rect" coords="34,44,270,350" href="">
  <area shape="circle" coords="588,291,38" href="">

In this snippet we’re using two <area> tags under one <map>. The first defines a rectangle and leads us to when clicked on; while clicking on the circular area takes us to

Easy mistakes are just part of learning something new! One common mistake is getting confused with coordinate assignment – especially when dealing with polygons which can have numerous points. Just remember: each point has an x and y value pair separated by commas like so: “x1,y1,x2,y2,x3,y3…”.

Working with the <area> tag can be a fun way to jazz up your webpage – imagine having an interactive infographic where each element leads you to more information. So, go ahead and experiment!

Important Attributes of the HTML <area> Tag

Let’s dive right into the heart of our topic: the important attributes of the HTML <area> tag. These attributes are what make this tiny piece of code so versatile and useful in web design.

The first attribute we’ll discuss is shape. It determines how a clickable area on an image map will be defined. The values it can take are ‘rect’ for rectangle, ‘circle’ for circle, and ‘poly’ for polygon. For instance, if you’re creating a clickable map, you might use something like:

<area shape="rect" coords="34,44,270,350" href="rectangle.htm">

Another primary attribute is coords, which specifies coordinates for the area depending on the shape value. If it’s a rectangle or circle, there will be four or three numbers respectively; polygons require as many pairs as there are points.

Here’s an example with a circle:

<area shape="circle" coords="180,139,30" href="circle.htm">

Lastly but definitely not least is href, this vital attribute provides the URL where users will be directed when they click on your defined area.

Now that we’ve got some basics down pat let’s also look at some optional attributes. There’s alt which gives alternative text when images can’t load or while hovering over them. It’s always good practice to include alt texts for accessibility purposes.

Then we have target, used to specify where to open linked documents – commonly set to ‘_blank’ to open links in new tabs.

Misusing these attributes could lead to ineffective image maps or even broken links – definitely not something you want your website visitors to experience! Therefore understanding these key components of <area> tag truly matters.

Practical Examples: Using the HTML <area> Tag Effectively

Let’s dive headfirst into seeing how we can utilize the HTML <area> tag in a real-world context. It’s crucial to note that this tag is most beneficial when used with an image map, defined by the <map> tag.

Consider we’ve got an image of a solar system, and we want users to be able to click on different planets and be redirected to pages with more information about each one. Here’s how we could achieve this:

<img src="solarsystem.png" alt="Solar System" usemap="#planetmap">
<map name="planetmap">
  <area shape="circle" coords="140,200,25" href="/mercury.html" alt="Mercury">
  <area shape="circle" coords="290,125,25" href="/venus.html" alt="Venus">

In this example, shape attribute specifies the shape of an area (circle), coords define coordinates for the area (center-x center-y radius) for circle shape and href points out where it should navigate when clicked.

Now let’s talk about some common mistakes people make when using the <area> tag. The first is forgetting to include all necessary attributes – notably ‘shape’, ‘coords’, and ‘href’. Without these three elements properly defined within your <area> tags you’ll find that your image map simply won’t work as expected.

Another misstep folks often fall into is mismatching their coordinates with their shapes. For instance, if you’re defining a rectangle (with four coordinates being required) but only put in three numbers for a circle or vice versa – again, your image map won’t function correctly.

Finally, remember that SEO optimization matters even in coding! Don’t forget to give proper names and descriptions where possible – this includes the ‘alt’ attribute! A well-described ‘alt’ can not only boost your SEO ranking but also enhance accessibility for those using screen readers.

So there you have it. The HTML <area> tag – a nifty little tool when used correctly, with image maps to create interactive images. Just remember to avoid common pitfalls and always keep your user (and search engine) in mind. Happy coding!

Common Mistakes to Avoid with the HTML <area> Tag

When it comes to using the HTML <area> tag, there are a few common mistakes I’ve seen developers make. Let’s dive in and unpack some of these pitfalls to help you avoid them.

One big mistake is forgetting about the alt attribute. This attribute provides an alternative text description for the area when images can’t be displayed. It’s crucial for accessibility, helping screen readers describe the image map to visually impaired users. Here’s what not to do:

<area shape="rect" coords="34,44,270,350" href="#">

Instead, always include the alt attribute:

<area shape="rect" coords="34,44,270,350" href="#" alt="Description of Area">

Another common error involves incorrect usage of coordinates with different shapes. For instance, using a wrong number of coordinates for a poly shape won’t render correctly:

<!-- Incorrect -->
<area shape="poly" coords="10,10,20" href="#" alt="Polygon">

<!-- Correct -->
<area shape="poly" coords="10,10,20,20" href="#" alt="Polygon">

Additionally,I’ve noticed that many developers forget that <area> tags should always be nested within a <map> tag. Without this structure in place,the image map simply won’t work properly. Here’s an example of incorrect nesting:

<img src="/path/to/image.jpg" usemap="#mapname">
<area shape="rect" coords="0,0,82," href="#" alt="">

To correct this issue,simply ensure your <area> tags are enclosed within a <map> tag like so:

<img src="/path/to/image.jpg" usemap="#mapname">
<map name='mapname'>
    <area shape="rect" coords="0,0,82," href="#" alt="">

Lastly, a common oversight is not testing the image map across different devices and screen sizes. Image maps are pixel-based, meaning they may not scale well with responsive designs. It’s always wise to check how your image map looks and functions on both desktop and mobile screens.

By steering clear of these mistakes,you’ll be able to use the HTML <area> tag more effectively in your web development projects. Happy coding!

Conclusion: Mastering the Use of HTML <area> Tag

I’ve walked you through how to use the HTML <area> tag and its attributes, providing examples along the way. Now, I hope you’re feeling a bit more confident in your ability to effectively leverage this tool.

Creating an image map with clickable areas is no small feat, but it’s achievable when you master using the <area> tag. Remember that each <area> within your image map corresponds to a different hyperlink or function.

Here’s one last example for good measure:

<map name="workmap">
  <area shape="rect" coords="34,44,270,350" alt="Computer" href="computer.htm">
  <area shape="rect" coords="290,172,333,250" alt="Phone" href="phone.htm">
  <area shape="circle" coords="337,300,44" alt="Cup of coffee" href=coffee.htm">

In this example:

Each distinct area takes users somewhere new when clicked!

A common mistake I see beginners make involves forgetting to specify all necessary attributes for their areas. Forgetting just one can mean your link won’t work as intended! So double-check those shape, coords, alt, and href tags before calling it completed.

To sum up – mastering the use of HTML <area> tag requires some patience and practice but holds immense potential in enhancing user experience on your webpages. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different shapes and coordinates until you find what works best for your layout and design needs.

Remember – practice makes perfect! With time and effort invested into understanding these concepts, you’ll be designing interactive image maps with ease before you know it.

Cristian G. Guasch

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

Related articles