HTML <iframe> for Video or Other Inline Content


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The <iframe> Tag in HTML 5

The <iframe> tag defines an inline frame that loads content from another HTML document and displays it as part of the current page. It is one of the embedded content tags in HTML. An iframe works almost like an image created with the img element, except that the content in the external resource is HTML code rather than binary image data.

Some possible uses of inline frames are:

  • to embed content from another site, such as in the YouTube embed example below
  • for an area that is common to multiple web pages, such as a footer, as described below
Using an <iframe> to embed a YouTube video

Note: For the following example to work in HTML 5 without Flash, you must "Join the HTML5 Trial" at

This is an actual working example of the Embedded YouTube Video example code below.

Using an <iframe> for a common footer

One use of the <iframe> tag is for common elements that appear on multiple pages of a web site. For example, this can be used to include a common footer, which can be accomplished by following these instructions:

  1. Create an XSL style sheet with a template for the footer.
  2. Include an <iframe> tag in the footer template.
  3. Reference the XSL style sheet with an xml-stylesheet instruction in every web page where the footer is to appear.

Although the footer HTML code could be included inline in the style sheet without the <iframe> tag, loading the footer from a separate document allows the footer to be cached by browsers separately from the site templates. A footer in a separate document can also be used on pages without the template simply by adding the <iframe> tag to those documents.

How to change the web page footer(s) depends on whether the whole footer or just part of it needs to be changed:

  • To change which footer is used, change the value of the src attribute in the <iframe> tag in the template.
  • To change the content of the footer, edit the HTML document that the src attribute of the <iframe> tag references.

More advanced web site templates can be created where different sets of pages use different style sheets, and those style sheets can include another set of higher-level templates that apply to all pages across the entire web site.

<iframe> Tag Syntax

Rules for coding HTML iframe elements
   ... flow content expected ...
      ... flow content ...
Rules for coding HTML iframe elements

Make sure you understand the difference between a tag and element and are familiar with the definitions of namespace and other HTML terms.

  1. Include a iframe element where flow content is expected.
  2. Begin the iframe element with a starting <iframe> tag. The element name uses lower case letters and should be in the HTML namespace, which it will pick up automatically from the xmlns attribute on the <html> tag.
  3. Inside the <iframe> starting tag, include a src attribute with the URL of a source document for the iframe content, a srcdoc attribute with the HTML for the iframe content or both, in which case the srcdoc will be used if supported and the src document will be used as fallback content.
  4. Inside the iframe element, between the starting <iframe> tag and the ending </iframe> tag, code the inner HTML flow content.
  5. End the iframe element with a matching </iframe> closing tag.

<iframe> Content Model

Contents of the iframe element

Content: Empty. All properties are coded using attributes.

The iframe element is an empty element, with both a start tag and an end tag, not a void element. However, while it can have text content in documents being parsed as HTML, it must be empty in documents being parsed as xHTML or pure XML. Therefore in polyglot documents as recommended on this site, HTML comments should be the only code inside an iframe element.

<iframe> Tag Attributes

Attributes of the <iframe> tag
global attributes In addition to the personal attributes of the <iframe> tag below, any of the common HTML attributes can also be coded.
the width and height of the internal frame, respectively
The contents of the iframe as a whole are not resized based on these dimensions like an image would be, although the HTML tags in the referenced source document could resize portions of its contents.
name the name of the nested browsing context
sandbox a list of permissions for the HTML code in the document referenced by the src attribute, separated by spaces.
When the sandbox attribute is coded without any permissions, the referenced source document is restricted from performing any of the restricted actions.
If one of the values in the sandbox attribute is "allow-forms", then forms are allowed in the referenced source document.
If one of the values in the sandbox attribute is "allow-scripts", then scripts are allowed in the referenced source document. This should not be used in conjunction with allow-same-origin, since then the script could simply remove the sandbox attribute to bypass the restrictions.
If one of the values in the sandbox attribute is "allow-same-origin", then . This should not be used in conjunction with allow-scripts, since then the script could simply remove the sandbox attribute to bypass the restrictions. When this value is omitted, the content from the referenced source document is forced into a "sandboxed origin browsing context" that prevents it from accessing HTML content or browser cookies from the original document's origin.
allow-same-origin can be used to allow the HTML code in the referenced document to:
  • access the DOM (HTML elements, etc.) of the original document, while preventing it from running scripts
  • post data back to its originating site, while preventing it from doing other things such as opening pop-up windows
If one of the values in the sandbox attribute is "allow-top-navigation", then target="_top" is allowed, which can be used in an HTML <a> tag to replace the current document.

The value "seamless" indicates that the content of the document referenced by the src attribute should appear as if the HTML code was included the document where the <iframe> tag is coded. This is essentially an HTML include statement, which eliminates the need for a separate <include> tag in HTML 5.

Omitting the seamless attribute indicates that the content of the internal frame is to be put into a nested browsing context separate from the original document.


a URI reference that resolves to the URL of a document with the content to be displayed in the internal frame

If the srcdoc attribute is also specified, this attribute will be ignored by HTML 5 browsers; it will only be used by older browsers that do not support the srcdoc attribute.

Use percent escape codes as explained in the URL Encoding Tutorial for any special characters in the URI reference.

If the value of the src attribute is an HTTP URL, it may contain any of the following components:

  1. protocol scheme, typically http: or else https:
  2. username, followed by an "@"
  3. host name or IP address
  4. port number, which defaults to 80 for the http scheme and 443 for the https scheme
  5. absolute or relative path
  6. search query, indicated by "?"

If the protocol scheme, username, host name/IP address and port number are omitted the default is the current host - the same server as the base of the current document. If the path starts with a slash /..., it is an absolute path from the document root directory (AKA "web root") on the server. A relative path will be resolved relative to the base of the current document.

srcdoc The srcdoc attribute specifies the HTML code for the content to be displayed in the internal frame. Although the code can be a full HTML document starting with a DOCTYPE declaration, some tags that would normally be required in a standalone HTML document become optional, such as the <title> tag (and therefore the empty <head> tag, <html> tag and now parentless <body> tag). Therefore, the value of the srcdoc attribute can be minimized to something as simple as a single phrasing content element, such as a paragraph tag.

<iframe> Tag Examples

Examples of the <iframe> tag in HTML 5
It is this easy to embed a YouTube video in HTML 5
(see Embedded YouTube video demo above)
<iframe class="youtube-player" width="640" height="480"

This is the "new" YouTube embed code. (The "old" YouTube embed code used the <object> tag. The 640 x 480 pixel size for the iframe is determined as follows:

  • 640 x 45 pixel black bar above video
  • 640 x 360 pixel video
  • 640 x 45 pixel black bar below video
  • 640 x 30 pixel tool bar at bottom

Changes in HTML 5 - <iframe> Tag

What's new in HTML 5

The sandbox, seamless="seamless" and srcdoc attributes have been added.

Differences between HTML 5 and earlier versions of HTML

The 2000-2010 Recommendations from the W3C HTML Working Group defined the HTML namespace for the iframe element type name along with the names of all HTML element types. In older (pre-2000) versions of HTML, element type names were not associated with a namespace.

Valid HTML 5