In HTML, the doctype declaration is the required preamble found at the top of all documents. Its sole purpose is to prevent a browser from switching into so-called "quirks mode" when rendering a document; that is, the
<!DOCTYPE> doctype ensures that the browser makes a best-effort attempt at following the relevant specifications, rather than using a different rendering mode that is incompatible with some specifications.
All HTML documents must start with a
The declaration is not an HTML tag. It is an "information" to the browser about what document type to expect.
In HTML 5, the declaration is simple:
In older documents (HTML 4 or XHTML), the declaration is more complicated because the declaration must refer to a DTD (Document Type Definition).
<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/loose.dtd">
<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.1//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml11/DTD/xhtml11.dtd">
<!DOCTYPE> declaration is not case sensitive.
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