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An element, with tag name of "META", expressing meta-data about a given html document. HTML standards do not require that documents have META elements; but if META elements occur, they must be inside the document's HEAD element.

The META element can be used to identify properties of a document (e.g., author, expiration date, a list of key words, etc.) and assign values to those properties, typically by specifying a NAME attribute (to name the property) and a CONTENT attribute (to assign a value for that property). The HTML 4 specification doesn't standardise particular NAME properties or CONTENT values; but it is conventional to use a "Description" property to convey a short summary of the document, and a "Keywords" property to provide a list of keywords relevant to the document, as in:

 <META NAME="Description" CONTENT="Information from around the
 world on kumquat farming techniques and current kumquat
 production and consumption data">
 <META NAME="Keywords" CONTENT="kumquat, Fortunella">

META elements with HTTP-EQUIV and CONTENT attributes can simulate the effect of http header lines, as in:

<META HTTP-EQUIV="Expires" CONTENT="Tue, 22 Mar 2000 16:18:35 GMT">

<META HTTP-EQUIV="Refresh" CONTENT="10; URL=http://www.foldoc.org/">

Other properties may be application-specific. For example, the robots exclusion standard uses the "robots" property for asserting that the given document should not be indexed by robots, nor should links in it be followed:

<META NAME="robots" CONTENT="noindex,follow">