Glossary Term Definition: 

Elements are logical document components found in markup languages such as XML and HTML. Elements simultaneously define the structure and content of a document. An element is demarcated by markup language tags. For example:


The first tag opens the element; the second tag closes it; everything between the opening tag and the closing tag constitutes the content of the element.

In a more concrete example, HTML uses the <em> element to demarcate text that should be emphasized. So, an emphasized element of an HTML document would appear as follows:

<em>Emphasized content</em>

In a web browser, this element would produce the following result:

Emphasized content

Markup language elements do not always need an opening tag and a closing tag because some elements can close themselves by including a space followed by a forward slash (/) within the element. For example, the following element is self-closing:

<tag />

Markup language elements are functionally similar to database fields, in that both serve to subdivide the content of a document.

For a much more detailed overview of elements, see the USGIN XML Tutorial.