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HTML Help: Quirks Mode

In the previous issue of AAN you wrote that a browser displays web pages in "quirks mode" if no DOCTYPE is used. What is quirks mode?
Once upon a time there were two dominant browsers, Netscape and Internet Explorer. When CSS first came out, the two browsers offered poor support, and the support they did offer often didn't match each other. As newer versions of each browser came out the support for CSS got better, and the browsers even began to treat the standards in similar, if not the exact same ways.

Now, many years later, most browsers support CSS very nicely, but browser vendors had a problem that needed to be solved.

In the old days there were millions of web pages that were written when CSS support was very spotty, and even HTML wasn't always rendered according to standards. Webmasters had to use all kinds of tricks to make pages display similarly in the major browsers. The problem for vendors was, if browsers only supported the standards, millions of old pages would be negatively affected; yet, if they didn't change, new web pages that were written according to standards wouldn't be supported properly.

The solution most vendors settled on was that browsers would display web pages in one of two modes, standards mode or quirks mode.

If the web page includes a DOCTYPE, the browser will display the page in one of the standards modes. If a DOCTYPE is not used—and here's the key, older web pages didn't have a DOCTYPE—then the page is displayed using the quirks mode.

And everyone lived happily ever after. The end.

This concludes the

HTML Help about Browser Quirks Mode

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