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HTML 4 vs. HTML 5: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on February 9, 2024
HTML 4 is an older web standard with basic functionality, while HTML 5 introduces advanced features like multimedia support, semantic elements, and improved interactivity.

Key Differences

HTML 4, a standard released in 1997, focused on the structure and presentation of content on the web. HTML 5, introduced in 2014, expanded these capabilities, incorporating multimedia, graphic content, and better semantic understanding.
In HTML 4, multimedia elements like video and audio required third-party plugins. HTML 5, however, has built-in support for audio and video, making multimedia integration seamless and more accessible.
HTML 4’s design limitations often required extensive use of JavaScript and CSS to create dynamic websites. HTML 5 addresses these limitations by introducing new elements and APIs for enhanced functionality and interactivity.
HTML 4 lacked support for mobile devices, a significant limitation in today’s mobile-first world. HTML 5 offers mobile-friendly features, making it adaptable and responsive to various screen sizes and devices.

Comparison Chart

Multimedia Integration

Requires plugins for audio/video
Built-in audio and video support

Semantic Elements

Limited semantic elements
Rich semantic elements like

Graphics and Interactivity

Relies on external scripts and CSS
Direct support with canvas and SVG

Mobile Support

Limited or no mobile support
Enhanced mobile support and responsiveness

APIs and Document Structure

Basic API support and structure
Advanced APIs and improved document structure

HTML 4 and HTML 5 Definitions


HTML 4 relies heavily on CSS and JavaScript for styling and interactivity.
We used CSS to style our HTML 4 page.


HTML 5 supports new semantic elements for better content structure.


HTML 4 requires plugins for multimedia like Flash for video.
We embedded a Flash player in our HTML 4 site for video playback.


HTML 5 is the latest standard for HTML with advanced features.
HTML 5 allows us to embed video directly without plugins.


HTML 4 does not offer much support for semantic elements.
In HTML 4, semantic clarity was often a challenge.


HTML 5 introduces form validation and new input types natively.
HTML 5 form validation simplifies creating interactive forms.


HTML 4 supports basic forms and tables but lacks advanced elements.
Creating forms in HTML 4 is straightforward but limited.


HTML 5 is designed to be device-independent and mobile-friendly.
Our website is mobile-responsive, thanks to HTML 5.


HTML 4 is a markup language for creating web pages with basic structure.
HTML 4 was widely used for building static web pages.


Is HTML 4 still used?

While HTML 4 is still supported by browsers, it has largely been superseded by HTML 5.

What is the doctype declaration for HTML 4?

The doctype declaration for HTML 4 is HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN">.

Are there different versions of HTML 4?

Yes, including HTML 4.0, HTML 4.01 Transitional, and HTML 4.01 Frameset.

Does HTML 4 support multimedia?

HTML 4 supports multimedia, but it's less efficient compared to HTML 5.

Does HTML 4 support JavaScript?

Yes, HTML 4 can work with JavaScript for client-side scripting.

What is HTML 5?

HTML 5 is the latest major version of HTML, offering new features for multimedia, graphical content, and improved semantics.

When was HTML 5 released?

The final version of HTML 5 was published in October 2014.

What is HTML 4?

HTML 4 is a version of the Hypertext Markup Language that was released in 1997. It's a standard for creating web pages and web applications.

When was HTML 4 released?

HTML 4 was officially released in December 1997.

What are the main features of HTML 4?

HTML 4 introduced new elements like frames, scripts, and styles, along with improvements in accessibility and internationalization.

What are the main improvements in HTML 5 over HTML 4?

HTML 5 introduces new semantic elements, multimedia elements (like

How does HTML 5 benefit SEO?

HTML 5's semantic elements make it easier for search engines to understand the structure and content of web pages, potentially improving SEO.

Is HTML 4 compatible with all browsers?

HTML 4 elements are widely supported across all major browsers.

Is HTML 5 mobile-friendly?

Yes, HTML 5 is designed to work well across all devices, including mobile phones and tablets.

Can HTML 5 replace Flash?

Yes, HTML 5 can replace Flash for most purposes, offering native video and interactive capabilities.

Can HTML 4 handle responsive design?

HTML 4 doesn’t natively support responsive design; this is usually achieved with external CSS.

What is the doctype declaration for HTML 5?

The doctype for HTML 5 is simply .

Does HTML 5 require plugins for audio and video?

No, HTML 5 has native support for audio and video without needing external plugins.

Is HTML 5 backward compatible?

HTML 5 is designed to be backward compatible, meaning it works well with older browsers, though some new features may not be fully supported.

Are HTML 5 web pages faster?

HTML 5 can lead to faster and more efficient web pages, especially with its more semantic markup and improved browser parsing.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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