Reserved characters in HTML must be replaced with character entities.


HTML Entities

Some characters are reserved in HTML.

If you use the less than (<) or greater than (>) signs in your text, the browser might mix them with tags.

Character entities are used to display reserved characters in HTML.

A character entity looks like this:

&entity_name;
OR

&#entity_number;

To display a less than sign (<) we must write: &lt; or <

Advantage of using an entity name: An entity name is easy to remember.
Disadvantage of using an entity name: Browsers may not support all entity names, but the support for entity numbers is good.


Non-breaking Space

A commonly used entity in HTML is the non-breaking space: &nbsp;

A non-breaking space is a space that will not break into a new line.

Two words separated by a non-breaking space will stick together (not break into a new line). This is handy when breaking the words might be disruptive.

Examples:

  • § 10
  • 10 km/h
  • 10 PM

Another common use of the non-breaking space is to prevent browsers from truncating spaces in HTML pages.

If you write 10 spaces in your text, the browser will remove 9 of them. To add real spaces to your text, you can use the &nbsp; character entity.

Tip: The non-breaking hyphen (‑) is used to define a hyphen character (‑) that does not break into a new line.

Some Useful HTML Character Entities

ResultDescriptionEntity NameEntity Number
non-breaking space&nbsp; 
<less than&lt;<
>greater than&gt;>
&ampersand&amp;&
double quotation mark&quot;"
single quotation mark (apostrophe)&apos;'
¢cent&cent;¢
£pound&pound;£
¥yen&yen;¥
euro&euro;
©copyright&copy;©
®registered trademark&reg;®

Note: Entity names are case sensitive.


Combining Diacritical Marks

A diacritical mark is a “glyph” added to a letter.

Some diacritical marks, like grave (  ̀) and acute (  ́) are called accents.

Diacritical marks can appear both above and below a letter, inside a letter, and between two letters.

Diacritical marks can be used in combination with alphanumeric characters to produce a character that is not present in the character set (encoding) used in the page.

Here are some examples:

MarkCharacterConstructResult
 ̀aà
 ́aá
̂aâ
 ̃aã
 ̀OÒ
 ́OÓ
̂OÔ
 ̃OÕ