What are the <ins> and <del> tags used for?

In Brief...

What are the <ins> and <del> tags used for and does anyone really use them?


The <ins> (for insert) and <del> (for delete) tags are used to track changes in a document. They are rarely used tags, but could be useful as part of content management system or similar tool.

Both tags take a datetime attribute that takes a value in the form of:


For example:


See https://www.w3.org/TR/NOTE-datetime for details on that datetime format.

Here's a simple example of how you might use <ins> and <del>:

<p>Mike and <del datetime="2016-06-14T15:28:03+05:00"
  <ins datetime="2016-06-14T15:28:03+05:00">I</ins>
  went to the movies last night.</p>

The cite attribute doesn't have any effect on the display of the content. It really just serves as a comment for the coders. Most browsers will put a line though content in <del> tags and underline content in <ins> tags, like this:

ins and del tags

Do these ever actually get used? Well, Google uses the <ins> tag on its 404 page, but we're not really sure why.

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Author: Nat Dunn

Nat Dunn founded Webucator in 2003 to combine his passion for web development with his business expertise and to help companies benefit from both.