Plain Old Semantic HTML

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The term Plain Old Semantic HTML (acronym POSH) differentiates Semantic HTML from more specific uses like microformats. The term also contrasts with Plain Old XML.

The microformats community has been using the term POSH to further evangelize the concept of semantic HTML.

According to the microformats wiki, they needed:

a simple short mnemonic term that captures the essence of the concept [of semantic HTML], and is easily verbed (to posh, poshify, poshed up).

A French version of the acronym was also coined, CHIC: Code HTML Intrinsèquement Classe.


The purpose of the term 'POSH' is to:

  • educate HTML authors who want to use microformats, but haven't understood the intermediate step of 'semantic HTML' markup.
  • encourage use of the term 'microformats' only for semantic HTML patterns which have been through the rigor of the microformats process.


In order for a page to be POSH, it should conform to the following :

  • POSH pages should be validated, which can be done automatically via the W3C Markup Validation Service
  • All presentation should be handled by Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), not done in HTML (this means Tables should be used only for tabular data, not for page layout; similarly, spacer GIFs should never be used)
  • Emphasis tags, such as <b>, are presentational, so should be omitted; the same applies to <br>
  • All links (anchor tags) should point somewhere—a link which has an empty href attribute (linking to nowhere) should not be used
  • Class names should describe what the data is—not the way it should appear

External references

  • A talk about POSH in the .Net magazine podcast episode 8 (56 minutes; 26 Mb. Relevant section 30:10-42:40)
  • Link broken

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