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<META ...>

Usage Recommendation
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  • NAME: The pupose of this META tag
  • HTTP-EQUIV: Name of the pretend HTTP header

<META ...>, which always goes in the <HEAD> section, is used to describe the web page. Metainformation is information about information. <META ...> is information about the information on the web page. For example, if you wanted to indicate when and how the web page was last revised, you might use:

<META NAME="revised" CONTENT="Troy Hebron, 3/18/97">

This tag says "the name of this information is 'revised' (NAME="revised"), and the information itself is 'Troy Hebron, 3/18/97'" (CONTENT="Troy Hebron, 3/18/97"). This method of naming the type of information and then giving the information itself makes <META ...> extensible. This means that just about any kind of information you want to give about the document can be fit into a <META ...> tag. If for some strange reason you wanted to describe the color of sweater you were wearing when you wrote the page, you could put:

<META NAME="sweater" CONTENT="pink">

Of course this information is probably of little use. That raises a question: what information is useful, and how is it used? The primary use for <META ...> is to put the metainformation "on record". Even though the metainformation may not be displayed by the browsers or cataloged anywhere, it travels with the web page, and anyone looking at the source code will see information on how the document was made.

Some uses for <META ...>, however, are interpreted and used by web browsers and other web reading software. There is no single such use; <META ...> has been adapted to many different uses because of its extensibility. Private intranets and special purpose web indexing programs use different <META ...> values to describe their documents.

However, three purposes, explained on the next pages, have gained some degree of standardization:

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