Sections and outlines in HTML5

Article posted on and takes 5 min. to read.

Mozilla provides by far the best HTML5 introduction guide available on the net. Here I will outline tl;dr and provide example of «The Holy Grail» layout.

Address

The address element represents the contact information for its nearest article or body element ancestor.

Article

“The article element represents a complete, or self-contained, composition in a document, page, application, or site and that is, in principle, independently distributable or reusable, e.g. in syndication. This could be a forum post, a magazine or newspaper article, a blog entry, a user-submitted comment, an interactive widget or gadget, or any other independent item of content." (source).

Articles should potentially have child headings (h1-h6 element) and sectioned content if necessary.

This is a semantically correct example with user submitted comments inside article elements wrapped in section,

    <article itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/BlogPosting">
     <header>
      <h1 itemprop="headline">The Very First Rule of Life</h1>
      <p><time itemprop="datePublished" datetime="2009-10-09">3 days ago</time></p>
      <link itemprop="url" href="?comments=0">
     </header>
     <p>If there's a microphone anywhere near you, assume it's hot and
     sending whatever you're saying to the world. Seriously.</p>
     <p>...</p>
     <footer>
      <a itemprop="discussionUrl" href="?comments=1">Show comments...</a>
     </footer>
     <section>
     <h1>Comments</h1>
     <article itemprop="comment" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/UserComments" id="c1">
      <link itemprop="url" href="#c1">
      <footer>
       <p>Posted by: <span itemprop="creator" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Person">
        <span itemprop="name">George Washington</span>
       </span></p>
       <p><time itemprop="commentTime" datetime="2009-10-10">15 minutes ago</time></p>
      </footer>
      <p>Yeah! Especially when talking about your lobbyist friends!</p>
     </article>
     <article itemprop="comment" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/UserComments" id="c2">
      <link itemprop="url" href="#c2">
      <footer>
       <p>Posted by: <span itemprop="creator" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Person">
        <span itemprop="name">George Hammond</span>
       </span></p>
       <p><time itemprop="commentTime" datetime="2009-10-10">5 minutes ago</time></p>
      </footer>
      <p>Hey, you have the same first name as me.</p>
     </article>
    </section>
    </article>

but it can be as simple as

    <article>
        <h1>Main outline</h1>
        <p>Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet</p>
    </article>

Aside

Put it simply, aside represents stuff related to content around it.

h1-h6

“These elements represent headings for their sections." They should not be used as purely stylistic elements, but as a guides to its respective sections. Defining subheading before heading is considered a bad practice and should not be done.

“The footer element represents a footer for its nearest ancestor sectioning content or sectioning root element. A footer typically contains information about its section such as who wrote it, links to related documents, copyright data, and the like.". It can be a footer for an article or the whole document. Note that contact information may reside in footer, but must be contained inside address element.

“The header element represents introductory content for its nearest ancestor sectioning content or sectioning root element." It usually contains section heading and other aids, but not necessarily. In case of absence of other semantic aids header can be omitted. But it is not sectioning element and shouldn’t be used as such.

Div

Good old divisions are semantically inert elements. They describe nothing about content and serve purely as a hook for styling the document. There is nothing more to it.

Main

“The main element represents the main content section of the body of a document or application. The main content section consists of content that is directly related to or expands upon the central topic of a document or central functionality of an application." Main is not a sectioning element, but should always be only one and should never be inside a section or an article.

“The nav element represents a section of a page that links to other pages or to parts within the page: a section with navigation links." Nav can be used twice - one for main navigation around the site and a second one for content itself.

Section

<section> is used to define different independent parts of website content. It is defined as “The section element represents a generic document or application section… The section element is not a generic container element. “. Assistive technologies and web crawlers use this technology to make sense of the document. According to w3 recommendationthe theme of each section should be identified, typically by including a heading (h1-h6 element) as a child of the section element.

More interesting stuff about section can be found in “The Importance Of HTML5 Sectioning Elements” - The Smashing Magazine

Notes on some other elements

The Holy Grail layout

    <!DOCTYPE HTML>
    <html>
     <head>
        <title>Steve Hill's Home Page</title>
        <meta type="robots" content="all">
        <style>
            :root {
                font: italic small-caps normal 13px/150% Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;
            }
        </style>
     </head>
     <body>
        <p>Hard Trance is My Life.</p>
        <header>
            <!-- this is a comment inside document's main header -->
            <h1>Best wesbsite in the unioverse</h1>
            <a href="/" title="Yet another company">
                <img src="logo-generic.svg" title="Yet another company" alt="Yet another company">
            </a>
        </header>
        <main>
            <section id="wrapper-main">
                <article>
                    <header>
                        <h1>Stuff</h1>
                        <p>Published: <time pubdate="pubdate">2009-10-09</time></p>
                    </header>

                    <section>
                        <h2>Smaller stuff</h2>
                        <p>Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet</p>
                    </section>

                    <section>
                        <h2>Even smaller stuff</h2>
                        <p>Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet</p>
                    </section>
                    <footer>
                        this article is licensed under WTFPLv2 license
                    </footer>
                    <section>
                        <h1>Comments</h1>
                        <article>
                            <footer>
                                Posted by Alexander
                            </footer>
                            <p>Do you want anything</p>
                        </article>
                        <article>
                            <footer>
                                Posted by Diogenes
                            </footer>
                            <p>Yes, don't block the sun!</p>
                        </article>
                    </section>
                </article>
            </section>
        </main>
        <foooter>
            <address>
                123 Basic street
            </address>
            <p>Content is licensed under Creative Commons 0</p>
        </footer>
     </body>
    </html>