I recently added HTML5 <nav> and <footer> elements to a page, thinking that HTML5-capable browsers would use them for semantic things like navigation, while older browsers would see them as user-defined tags and apply CSS styles to them like ordinary <div> elements.

When I was working on this, I remember seeing a warning that a version or some versions of Internet Explorer didn't support user-defined tags, with a link to HTML5shiv as a possible solution. Unfortunately I don't remember where I saw it or which version/versions might be affected (which would indicate how concerned I should be about this problem).

If other common browsers share this problem, it would help to know about those too.


1 Answer 1


The Can I Use? website is excellent to determine browser support for various features, including HTML5 semantic tags:


You'll see that IE8 and below let the team down. If you need to support IE6, 7, and 8, then using the HTML5 shiv is a good idea. IE8 is still in use by roughly 7% of visitors, according to StatCounter, but that percentage may be higher for some audiences. It's worth checking your own stats if you have them and making a decision based on that.

  • I thought about it and decided that this technically doesn't answer my question, but it's close enough. I can deduce from that page which browsers support user-defined tags because "partial support" is defined as allowing the style to be set manually, strongly implying that styles can be set to any tag that isn't fully supported.
    – Wutaz
    Feb 11, 2014 at 21:46
  • caniuse is never up to date, so typically its wrong. the best place to determine browser features and support? the browser's documentation. aka msdn, mdn, opera, apple, and google.dev.
    – albert
    Feb 12, 2014 at 8:30
  • @albert The data that backs Can I Use is open source and published on GitHub. It's updated pretty regularly. If you find inaccuracies you can always contribute corrections there.
    – Nick
    Feb 13, 2014 at 8:37
  • i'm very well aware. its a great tool...but its not the source, and i've found plenty of inconsistencies.
    – albert
    Feb 13, 2014 at 8:44

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.