HTML5 Lessons for beginners

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HTML Entities

Reserved characters in HTML must be replaced with character entities.

HTML Entities

Some characters are reserved in HTML.

If you use 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:




To display a less than sign (<) we must write: &lt; or &#60;

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.


  • § 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 (&#8209;) is used to define a hyphen character (‑) that does not break into a new line.

Some Useful HTML Character Entities

Result Description Entity Name Entity Number Try it
non-breaking space &nbsp; &#160; Try it »
< less than &lt; &#60; Try it »
> greater than &gt; &#62; Try it »
& ampersand &amp; &#38; Try it »
" double quotation mark &quot; &#34; Try it »
' single quotation mark (apostrophe) &apos; &#39; Try it »
¢ cent &cent; &#162; Try it »
£ pound &pound; &#163; Try it »
¥ yen &yen; &#165; Try it »
euro &euro; &#8364; Try it »
© copyright &copy; &#169; Try it »
® registered trademark &reg; &#174; Try it »

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:

Mark Character Construct Result Try it
 ̀ a a&#768; Try it »
 ́ a a&#769; Try it »
̂ a a&#770; Try it »
 ̃ a a&#771; Try it »
 ̀ O O&#768; Try it »
 ́ O O&#769; Try it »
̂ O O&#770; Try it »
 ̃ O O&#771; Try it »

You will see more HTML symbols in the next chapter of this tutorial.