When testing my code using the w3 html5 validator, I get this warning message:

Warning: The name attribute is obsolete. Consider putting an id attribute on the nearest container instead.


  • What does the nearest container mean?
  • Is empty <a> now deprecated?
  • Should I use id instead of name?

3 Answers 3


If you need to jump users to in-page links, also known as fragment identifiers, you can set the id attribute (which is used for more than just frag ids) on any element. Then use the usual # in the URL of a href attribute of an a element. Here’s an example:

  <p>Despite the many
    <a href="#benefits-of-gum-chewing">benefits</a>
    you may experience while chewing gum, there are also many drawbacks,
    especially with 
    <a href="http://www.example.org/sugar.html#cons">non-sugarless</a>
  <section id="benefits-of-gum-chewing">
    <h1>Benefits of Gum Chewing</h1>

When writing my own pages, I like to give an id to each <section> tag (HTML5), even if I don’t plan on using it. The value of the id is a URL-friendly version of its heading’s content. You can achieve the same effect by assigning the same id to an <h1>, etc.

Lastly, empty <a> tags are not deprecated, as indicated in the HTML5 spec:

If the a element has no href attribute, then the element represents a placeholder for where a link might otherwise have been placed …

Additionally the same applies for area elements:

The href attribute on a and area elements is not required; when those elements do not have href attributes they do not create hyperlinks.


[A]re empty placeholder tags as a whole deprecated, and anchors can simply point to any element with an id instead?

I prefer to jump users to heading tags (following MediaWiki's default behavior) where in-page links are needed, but yes, you could address the ID of any element.


For HTML5, name attribute is now deprecated, so that means to use id in place of name. Otherwise, everything else is the same.

<a> is NOT deprecated.

  • While this answer is good, a link to documentation or an article explaining the deprecation would make it even better. Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 0:51
  • 2
    Specifically, it is the name attribute on the anchor element that is deprecated/obsolete. The name attribute is still perfectly valid (and required) on other elements.
    – MrWhite
    Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 0:53

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