PHP users have the PHP.net docs
Ruby users have Ruby-Doc.org
Python users have docs.python.org
jQuery users have docs.jquery.com

All are considered go-to references when working within those environments.

But where's 'The Manual' for web designers and developers working with HTML, CSS, and (vanilla) JavaScript? What online, free, up-to-date, reliable, searchable, user-editable documentation should webmasters be using and referencing in their day-to-day work?

Update: I should have said that I'm aware of the W3C's Specifications and of the ECMAScript spec, but feel that they are better suited to browser vendors than they are to webmasters. From the HTML5 specification intro:

"...in places it sacrifices clarity for precision, and brevity for completeness..."

So, to rephrase my original question: what clear, quick online references are available for HTML, CSS, and JavaScript?

5 Answers 5


The W3C handles the HTML and CSS specifications

HTML 4 specification from the W3C
XHTML specification from the W3C
CSS 2.1 specifications from the W3C
HTML 5 specifications from the W3C (Working Draft)
CSS 3 specifications (Working Draft)

The official spec for JavaScript is the EMCAscript standard

EMCA specifications


I hope this is what you were looking for. Ipurposely didn't use the w3schools references because they are known for having bad information in them.

Sitepoint CSS reference
Sitepoint HTML reference
Sitepoint JavaScript reference


From Nick's comment: Mozilla Developer Network (MDN)

  • Thanks, John. I've always felt that the W3C and ECMAscript specs were written more for browser vendors than for web developers. I've clarified my question above.
    – Nick
    Commented Jun 1, 2011 at 16:52
  • @Nick, Updated my answer. I think that is what you're looking for. If not let me know.
    – John Conde
    Commented Jun 1, 2011 at 17:05
  • 3
    Thanks - I didn't know about the Sitepoint docs, and just found out about the MDN docs through the w3schools intervention link you mentioned.
    – Nick
    Commented Jun 1, 2011 at 17:19

I find the Mozilla Developer Network docs really good, especially the JavaScript ones.


The W3C specs are the references for HTML and CSS. For Javascript it's the ECMA specification. They meet all your requirements apart from user-editable. Is that good enough?

  • Thanks, Paul. I've clarified my question to show that I'm looking for more bite-size references than the official W3C specs.
    – Nick
    Commented Jun 1, 2011 at 16:51

For HTML5, there are reduced versions of the spec specifically for web developers / authors:


DevDocs pools documentation for HTML, CSS, and JavaScript together from multiple sources - including MDN – and puts them in one place in a searchable format. It's pretty handy.

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