HTML <i> Tag: Usage, Attributes, and Real-World Examples

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

Diving into the world of HTML can be a thrilling experience. I’m here to guide you through one little piece of this vast digital puzzle: the HTML <i> tag. It might seem insignificant, but trust me, it’s a tool that carries an impressive amount of power.

The <i> tag is a simple yet elegant member of the HTML family. It’s used mainly for styling text in italic format, giving your content a subtle hint of emphasis or differentiation. However, there’s more to it than just slanting letters! This humble tag also helps in defining certain technical terms, phrases from other languages, thoughts, ship names and so much more.

Now that we’ve scratched the surface on the <i> tag’s potential uses let’s dive deeper into its attributes and examples. Stick with me as we embark on this journey together and by the end of it all; you’ll have added another valuable tool to your HTML toolkit!
Diving right into the world of HTML, let’s tackle the <i> tag. This little piece of code is a staple in any web developer’s toolkit. Commonly used to italicize text, it’s more than just a simple formatting tool.

In HTML5, the <i> tag took on an expanded role. It’s now meant to represent text that is set apart from normal prose for various reasons. Here are some examples:

<p>The word <i>papillon</i> is French for butterfly.</p>

In this context, we’re using the <i> tag to denote a foreign language term within an English sentence.

<p>The <i>HMS Beagle</i> was Charles Darwin's ship during his famous voyage.</p>

Here, we’re using it to distinguish the title of a ship in historical narrative.

But remember not to confuse the <i> tag with its close cousin – the <em> or emphasis tag. While they both render text as italic by default, their semantic use differs. The <em> tag emphasizes text while the <i> indicates difference in style without necessarily adding stress or importance.

Common mistakes? Sure! Some people still use the old method of embedding CSS directly into HTML tags like so:

<p>The word <span style="font-style:italic;">papillon</span> is French for butterfly.</p>

It works but it’s not considered best practice anymore due to potential conflicts with external CSS files and lack of semantic meaning.

There you have it – a brief dive into understanding and using HTML’s handy little italicizing friend –  the <i> tag.

Attributes of the HTML <i> Tag

When you’re delving into the world of HTML, it’s essential to understand how different tags work. Today, I’m focusing on the attributes of the HTML <i> tag.

Generally speaking, this little gem doesn’t have any specific attributes associated with it. However, like most HTML elements, it supports global and event attributes. Let’s dive right in and explore these a bit further.

Global attributes are those that can be used with all HTML elements – yes, every single one of them! Some common examples include class, contenteditable, id, style, and many more. Here’s a small snippet to illustrate how you might use these with the <i> tag:

<i class="italicized" id="example1" style="color:blue;">Hello World</i>

In this code sample above, class is used to apply CSS styles defined elsewhere in your website code; id gives your element a unique identifier for JavaScript or CSS manipulation; and finally, ‘style’ directly inserts inline CSS to alter an attribute (in this case changing text color).

On the other hand, we’ve got event attributes—these come into play when certain user actions occur on your webpage. For example: clicking (onclick), hovering over (onmouseover), or pressing down on an element (onmousedown). To demonstrate:

<i onclick="alert('You clicked me!')">Click Me!</i>

With this simple line of code included in your page’s HTML body section, clicking on “Click Me!” triggers a pop-up alert saying “You clicked me!”. It illustrates how you could potentially utilize event-based interactivity using our trusty friend—the humble <i> tag.

Just remember though while using <i>, it’s not designed as a catch-all for italicizing text; it’s intended more for a differentiating side note or subsidiary text where the tone changes. It’s an element of semantics, not just style, so use it wisely!

Common mistakes include overusing the <i> tag purely for aesthetic purposes or using it in place of other more suitable tags such as em for emphasized text. Always remember to consider both form and function when HTML coding!

Practical Examples of Using the HTML <i> Tag

Let’s dive right into some practical examples of how to use the HTML <i> tag. Trust me, it’s simpler than you might think.

Firstly, let’s consider a basic example. Suppose you’re writing a blog post about famous authors and want to emphasize certain words in your text. Here’s how you could do it:

<p>I just finished reading <i>Pride and Prejudice</i> by Jane Austen.</p>

In this case, “Pride and Prejudice” will be displayed in italic font style on your webpage, making it stand out from the rest of the sentence.

But what happens if you want to highlight an entire section? That’s where nested tags come into play. Check out this snippet:

<p><i>The following novels have deeply impacted my life:</i></p>
  <li><i>To Kill a Mockingbird</i> by Harper Lee</li>
  <li><i>The Great Gatsby</i> by F. Scott Fitzgerald</li>

Every item inside <i> tags will appear in italics on your page – both the preamble and book titles are emphasized here.

However, there can be missteps along the way. One common mistake is forgetting to close an <i> tag properly – this can result in more text being italicized than intended! So always ensure that every opening <i> has its corresponding closing </i>.

<!-- Incorrect -->
<p>I love reading <i>Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.</p>

<!-- Correct -->
<p>I love reading <i>Pride and Prejudice</i> by Jane Austen.</p>

Remember that while the <I> tag is widely supported across browsers, it should be used sparingly and only for phrases that require distinct separation from the rest of your text. Overuse can dilute its impact, so use it wisely!

Common Mistakes When Using the HTML <i> Tag

Let’s dive into some of the most common blunders folks make while working with the HTML <i> tag. I’ll be breaking it down for you, sharing examples and insights that will help you avoid these pitfalls in your coding journey.

First off, a mistake I’ve seen a lot is using the <i> tag to simply italicize text without conveying any special meaning or emphasis. Remember, HTML5 encourages us to use this tag to represent text in an alternate voice or mood. For instance:

<i>I love coding!</i>

This isn’t wrong per se, but it might not follow best practices. With HTML5 standards, it’d be better if we used:

<em>I love coding!</em>

Another frequent misstep is forgetting about accessibility. Sure, visually impaired users won’t see italicized text, but screen readers can interpret tags like <i> differently based on context and semantics. So always ensure your usage enhances user experience across all devices.

Also worth noting is that developers often neglect to close their <i> tags properly – a fundamental rule in HTML writing! This simple oversight can wreak havoc on your page layout as browsers try to guess where the unclosed tag should end.

Lastly, let’s talk about nesting errors which are more common than you’d think. Here’s an example:

<b><i>This text is bold and italic</b></i>

See something off here? The closing tags are out of order! It should look like this instead:

<b><i>This text is bold and italic</i></b>

Remember that correct nesting keeps your code clean and readable while preventing unexpected results.

There you have it – some typical mistakes made when employing the HTML <i> tag. Now armed with this knowledge, I’m confident you’ll dodge these common coding errors.

Conclusion: Mastering the Use of HTML <i> Tag

I’ve come a long way in this journey to unravel the mysteries of the HTML <i> tag. It’s been an enlightening adventure, diving into its usage, attributes, and examples. I believe that mastering this simple yet powerful tag can be a game changer for your web development process.

One crucial point to remember is that the <i> tag is primarily used for text that stands apart from the normal text. Examples include technical terms, foreign language phrases, or thoughts in a paragraph.

<p>The term <i>Einstellung</i> is often used in psychology.</p>

However, it’s important not to confuse its purpose with emulating styles like bold or underline – that’s what CSS is for!

A common mistake I’ve noticed among newbies involves using multiple <i> tags unnecessarily. Remember, you don’t need separate tags for each word within a sentence.

<!-- Incorrect -->
<p><i>This</i> <i>is</i> <i>a</i> <i>sentence.</i></p>

<!-- Correct -->
<p><i>This is a sentence.</i></p>

In conclusion (and yes, I’m ignoring my own advice about starting sentences here), understanding how to correctly use and implement HTML tags such as <i> can significantly enhance both your coding efficiency and website aesthetics. So go ahead – experiment with these tips and tricks I’ve shared and let your creativity run wild!

Cristian G. Guasch

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

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