HTML <textarea> Tag: Usage, Attributes, and Examples

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

Diving into the world of HTML coding, you’ll quickly discover a wealth of tags to help create interactive and dynamic web pages. One such essential tool is the <textarea> tag. As I delve into this topic, I’ll share insights on how it’s used, detail its attributes, and demonstrate its functionality with simple examples.

The <textarea> tag in HTML plays a crucial role in allowing users to input multi-line text into forms on a webpage. It’s often employed for sections where extensive user input is required – think customer feedback forms or comment sections in blogs. This unique feature sets it apart from other input types like ‘text’ or ‘password’, which are limited to single-line entries.

With my years of experience as an HTML coder, I’ve learned that mastering the use of the <textarea> tag can significantly enhance your website’s user interaction capabilities. So let’s take this journey together and unlock the potential of this versatile HTML element.

Understanding the HTML <textarea> Tag

HTML, or HyperText Markup Language, forms the backbone of most web content. One essential component is the <textarea> tag. This simple yet powerful tool creates multi-line input fields or text boxes in your HTML forms.

Diving into its usage, it’s important to note that unlike other tags like <input>, which are self-closing, the <textarea> requires both an opening and closing tag. Here’s a basic example:

  <label for="message">Leave a message:</label><br>
  <textarea id="message" name="message" rows="4" cols="50">
  Type your message here...

In this snippet, we’ve created a form with a text area for users to leave messages. The rows and cols attributes define the visible width and height of the textarea in terms of character widths/lines.

I’d also like to highlight some common mistakes while using this tag. For instance, if you forget to close off your <textarea> tag properly with </textarea>, it will cause issues rendering on your webpage.

Another attribute worth noting is placeholder. It provides a hint that describes the expected value in the textarea when it’s empty:

<textarea id="comment" name="comment" placeholder="Enter your comment here..."></textarea>

You can also control whether user inputs can modify the contents of the textarea with ‘readonly’ or ‘disabled’ attributes:

<textarea readonly>This is a read-only textbox.</textarea>
<textarea disabled>This textbox is disabled.</textarea>

Finally, remember that although there are similarities between <input type='text'> and <textarea>, their use cases differ significantly. If you expect short inputs from users such as names or email addresses, stick with <input>. However, for longer text inputs like comments or messages, <textarea> is your go-to tag.

In the end, mastering the HTML <textarea> tag comes down to practice and understanding its usage in different scenarios. So, don’t shy away from experimenting with it on your own!

Key Attributes of the HTML <textarea> Tag

Diving right into it, one key attribute of the HTML <textarea> tag is name. It’s used to specify a name for the textarea element. This is especially useful when processing form data as it can be used to identify individual elements.

<textarea name="comment"> </textarea>

Next up, we have rows and cols. These two attributes are used to define the visible width and height of the textarea in terms of number of text lines. For instance:

<textarea rows="4" cols="50"> </textarea>

This will create a textarea that’s 4 lines high and can comfortably accommodate 50 characters per line.

Another vital attribute is disabled. When applied, this prevents users from interacting with the textarea – they won’t be able to enter or edit any information within it. Here’s how you’d implement that:

<textarea disabled> You can't edit this! </textarea>

The maxlength attribute sets an upper limit on how many characters a user can input. If you’ve ever wondered why some forms won’t let you type beyond a certain point, well, here’s your answer!

<textarea maxlength="200"> </textarea>

Lastly, there’s the placeholder, which provides hint text within the textarea box before user input. Great way to guide users on what kind of information should be entered.

<textarea placeholder="Enter your feedback here..."> </textarea>

It’s worth noting that while these are some common attributes associated with <textarea>, there are others depending upon different use cases and requirements.

Practical Examples: Using the HTML <textarea> Tag

Let’s dive right into using the HTML <textarea> tag. This element is a handy tool in web design, allowing users to enter multi-line text inputs.

A basic example of its usage would look something like this:

<!DOCTYPE html>

<form action="/submit_page">
  <label for="w3review">Review the W3Schools:</label><br>
  <textarea id="w3review" name="w3review" rows="4" cols="50">
  At you will learn how to make a website.


In this snippet, rows and cols attribute define the visible width and height of the textarea. The text within it is what appears when users visit your page. They can then alter or add more text as they wish.

You’re not limited to just these attributes though! There are others that can further enhance your <textarea>. For instance, placeholder provides hint text that disappears once user starts typing. Here’s an example:

<textarea id="story" name="story"
          rows="5" cols="33"
          placeholder="Once upon a time...">

Now let’s talk common errors with <textarea>. One pitfall I’ve seen folks tumble into is neglecting to close their tags properly. Remember, unlike other input elements, <textarea> requires both an opening and closing tag (<textarea></textarea>). Leaving out either results in an improperly formatted webpage.

Another typical mistake involves misunderstanding how default text works with <textarea>. Any content placed between the opening and closing tags will serve as default text – this isn’t controlled through an attribute like most other form elements.

By understanding these nuances of HTML’s textarea tag, you’re well on your way to creating more interactive and user-friendly web pages.

Common Issues and Solutions with the HTML <textarea> Tag

Sometimes, even the most seasoned coder can run into issues with something as fundamental as the HTML <textarea> tag. I’ve seen this happen more times than I’d like to admit. So let’s dive into some of these common problems and how to effectively troubleshoot them.

One issue that often crops up is incorrect rendering of text within a <textarea>. You might find that instead of your intended text, you’re seeing HTML entities or tags. This isn’t a bug! It’s just how browsers interpret content inside a textarea. To fix this issue, make sure you’re not including any raw HTML in your <textarea>. For example:

<!-- Incorrect -->
<textarea><b>Bold Text</b></textarea>

<!-- Correct -->
<textarea>&lt;b&gt;Bold Text&lt;/b&gt;</textarea>

Another problem many developers encounter is whitespace appearing at the start of their textarea content. The culprit? Unintentional indentation in your code:

<!-- Incorrect -->
  Hello World

<!-- Correct -->
<textarea>Hello World</textarea>

In the first example, browsers will render the leading whitespace before “Hello World”, which probably isn’t what you want!

Ever had trouble resizing your textbox using CSS? If so, you’re not alone. This can be tricky due because unlike other elements, some properties don’t apply to <textarea>. Instead use rows and cols attributes or better yet style width and height directly:

<!-- Use cols and rows -->
<textarea cols="50" rows="5">Hi there!</textarea>

<!-- Or style it directly-->
<textarea style="width:200px;height:100px;">Hi there!</textarea>

Remember folks – coding isn’t always straightforward. But when it comes to tackling problems with HTML’s <textarea> tag, I hope these solutions will get you out of a jam. After all, understanding is half the battle won!

Conclusion: The Power of the HTML <textarea> Tag

Let’s wrap this up. After diving deep into the HTML <textarea> tag, I’ve come to appreciate its versatility and power in web development. This simple yet effective tool allows us to create multi-line text inputs, enabling users to input larger amounts of data.

There’s a lot we can do with this humble tag. Its attributes like name, rows, and cols give us control over its appearance and functionality. For instance, here’s an example where we define the rows and cols:

<textarea name="comments" rows="5" cols="40">
Please type your comments here...

In this case, we’re setting up a comment box that has 5 lines visible at once (thanks to the ‘rows’ attribute), and it’ll be 40 characters wide (the ‘cols’ attribute).

But watch out for common pitfalls! A common mistake is forgetting to close the <textarea> tag properly, which could lead to display issues on your website. Always remember that unlike some other HTML tags, <textarea> requires both an opening and a closing tag.

<!-- Incorrect -->
<textarea name="comments" rows="5" cols="40">

<!-- Correct -->
<textarea name="comments" rows="5" cols="40"></textarea>

We can even take our text areas further through JavaScript or CSS modifications for enhanced interactivity or styling respectively.

Ultimately, mastering the use of <textarea>, like any other element in HTML coding is all about practice. So don’t hesitate – start experimenting with what you’ve learned today!

The power of the HTML <textarea> truly lies in its simplicity combined with flexibility – all contributing towards enhancing user experience on any web page.

Cristian G. Guasch

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

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