I know it doesn't matter, but I still cringe every time I see a .htm extension on a public web site. I still remember the first time I saw a .htm file. I had been working with web content on Unix machines for a while and had always used .html. It never occurred to me that anyone would need to bastardize it. But then came Windows 95.

Ever since then, I haven't been able to get rid of that feeling. I instinctively lose respect for folks who publish .htm files. (Yes, you'll find a few on my site, but they are just that: few.)

Anyway, I don't know what I thought to blog this, but I have. So there.

Posted by jzawodn at February 03, 2003 08:09 PM

Reader Comments
# Pete said:

I feel exactly the same way, and have ever since I started hosting a site on a unix server about 9 years ago...

on February 3, 2003 11:11 PM
# Scot Hacker said:

To name your files with .htm is to implicitly say that MS can do whatever the hell they please with your data. That years after long filenames became possible, MS can still yank your whole operation back to the hellish days of 8.3.

Hosting a site with .htm files is like wearing a "Kick Me" sign on your back.

on February 4, 2003 01:42 AM
# Ask Bjoern Hansen said:

Of course you can also argue that it's silly to use an extension at all.

on February 4, 2003 01:59 AM
# Kenneth said:

My thoughts exactly. I still have .htm files on my old site, but only because I didn't want link rot.

Something like mod_rewrite would be able to handle this if it were a systemic occurance.

on February 4, 2003 07:17 AM
# Scott Johnson said:

Oh for the love of god. Who cares?

Yes I do have .htm files on my server. Big deal. It isn't that Microsoft can whatever they want w/ my data as much as I'm just plain used to three letter extensions. If that makes me an idiot then so what?

Ah platform bigotry... Will it never end?

As long as the overall name isn't 8 characters then what does it matter? It just plain doesn't. It may be intellectually offending but doesn't matter a whit.

on February 4, 2003 07:20 AM
# Joe Grossberg said:

Scot Hacker: give me a break.

.CFM (ColdFusion)
.SWF (Flash)

All 3-char extensions, and very common in websites. Would you be so bold as to claim that the people who use those are beholden to MS?

Shit, why stop there?

CSS -- Three characters. MS 0wnz j00r br0wz0r!
JS -- Two characters. 1337! So rebellious!
PY, PL -- Two characters. w00t!

on February 4, 2003 08:34 AM
# Dan Isaacs said:

Yes, it is silly. I mean, there was only the better part of a decade where .html was the standard. Why should you be at all put off by MS coming in late in the game and pushing .htm?

To infer idiocy is itself idiotic. But to be annoyed is well within the boundry of Reason.

on February 4, 2003 09:14 AM
# Gerald said:

.htm versus .html - if you forget your MS animosity you will realize that you save one character - one character on every request for the page, one character in the referrer entry and one character for every appropriate link at the delivered webpage. this speeds up the download time and saves bandwith ;-)
By the way, some month ago me and some colleagues where shocked when we recognized the suffix at our fresly relaunched homepage http://www.e-trend.de. For the index-page we changed it to .html, the other pages all end with a .htm. we did not change them because we just went into an insolvence and wanted to leave it as a warning example ;-)

on February 7, 2003 07:23 AM
# Chris said:

The best page extension is no extention at all. Long live mod_rewrite and human readable links.


on February 7, 2003 08:33 PM
# Kim said:

File extensions?

Do some work and stop wasting time.


on March 2, 2003 10:53 PM
# delfin said:

Having a .htm as extension reminds me of my FrontPage era. And I don't want to be associated anymore with this.

on March 13, 2003 02:23 AM
# lucas said:

well, I am very new to this... and I can't find ways of changing my htm files into html files... i am using microsoft front page 2002 with windows XP for professionals and i have spent months searching the internet to find out how to write in HTML in staid of HTM...

Now I feel very stupid asking for help but, at this point i don't know where to search....
hope someone can help...

on March 14, 2003 04:06 PM
# lucas said:

well, I am very new to this... and I can't find ways of changing my htm files into html files... i am using microsoft front page 2002 with windows XP for professionals and i have spent months searching the internet to find out how to write in HTML in staid of HTM...

Now I feel very stupid asking for help but, at this point i don't know where to search....
hope someone can help...

on March 14, 2003 04:06 PM
# Mike said:

That is wicked hilarious lucas. I whit my pants.

on March 18, 2003 09:58 PM
# msd said:

I don't know why, but I cannot use ".htm"!
In the beginning I asked the same question: htm or html? The decision was easy, html! It felt right!
Today, I shiver at the very thought! I don't know why, ... it feels wrong! Incomplete! ...


on April 9, 2003 09:43 AM
# Abdelbaset Rabaya said:

I've been teaching Web design for three years at the College of IT. Till the moment, none of my students asked me what is the difference between .HTM and .HTML. All I care about is the innovative and creative ideas embeded within the HTM/HTML (what ever you like) file.



on May 26, 2003 05:25 AM
# Ted Wood said:

I prefer .html over .htm for the fact mentioned above that it feels 'incomplete'. It hasn't been mentioned that the HTML server needs to be configured to handle .htm files, so that's extra work that is redundant. Furthermore, depending on how the server is configured, index.html may override index.htm as the default page, which can lead to problems.

I say we phase out .htm in favor of .html.


on June 14, 2003 02:26 PM
# Nirab said:

HTML foREver!!

on September 3, 2003 01:38 PM
# pam said:

i interest in the web designing field recently.though lots of things are new to me, i get pretty confused with so many softwares for application tools like frontpage or coldfusion or dreamweaver and so on ...for html/htm coding.same alike with the differences with htm or html.which are more latest and advance tools to be applied on without hesitation and sorry in the future for wasting time despite getting knowledge.
i am so eager and desperate to get the facts and real issues about the tools to be a developer.
i know dreamweaver,asp,flash,frontpage,so on are tools.
but what i am looking is each names of the software that are
most reliable,advance,more userfriendly and strong.
for example, i heard from someone that coldfusion is the latest and the more advance one than dreamweaver or frontpage so it helps to make up one best decision to take html/htm for coldfusion.this is just the example.
i really need your help.
please, help me.

on September 25, 2003 09:57 AM
# Don Wachtveitl said:

So, it sounds to me like html has no advantage over htm and htm has no advantage over html. Nothing is lost by using the extension htm vs html and nothing is gained using html vs htm? It sounds like it comes down to an individuals feelings about Microsoft.

on November 5, 2003 09:16 AM
# Davori said:

I use HTML. It just feels right. Like some of the people said above, its more "complete".

on July 21, 2004 12:40 AM
# Cookie said:

I'm surprised no one has mentioned the very simple fact that .html is better for the simple reason is what most websurfers know and will type when directly seeking a page. The .htm is unknown to most of them.

on September 10, 2004 01:11 PM
# awebdev said:

I came here to see if there is any technical reason to use .htm over .html (only because I see it used so much now), yet I find no really good reason to do so. Faster loading? Less bandwidth? That would be negligible for any one page. So, I will keep using .html If nothing else, it shows I am from the old school where some of us still hand code our HTML.

on September 21, 2004 11:43 AM
# Slink said:

I'm a webmaster over 20 facilities at a semi-large corporation and have found one good use for using both htm and html extensions. I always use the html extension for web pages that use frames (composed of multiple files) and the htm extension for those that do not (composed of a single file). This aides in visually sorting and picking which file to edit when making modifications. This also normally means that the main home page files for various areas will have a .html extension since they normally do contain frames for navigation links, etc. Comments for or against this anyone? It's worked for me.

on October 11, 2004 03:33 PM
# said:

the debate about htm vs html is so silly and not worth blahing about but since i'm here now blahs away.

serious though, any so called professional who would laugh at an .htm exttension is an idiot in my opinion ha ha.

in the first place to call any web developer aka geek a professional is an insult to the real professionals.

the problem with web geeks is they brand their own style of so called professionalism and ways of doing things even have their own stupid language. then, they expect the rest of the world to conform to their silly world. Wake up call, nobody cares!!

I'll use .htm until the sun burns out, do you think i really give a shit what a professional geek thinks about my .htm extension ha ha.

Re: free world vs Microsoft

nothing in this world is free and if it is chances are it's junk

i've heard this debate for years free world ha ha you were born in a commercialized society and you'll die in one. The net provides the opportunity for free geeks to build masses of information campaigns, what is the purpose of a blog ? ? to add more useless crap to the already existing information dump ha ha

information is cheap and so are the web geeks

.htm rocks far better than stupid html going to run out and get a t-shirt made that reads .htm is here to stay

on November 7, 2004 09:20 AM
# Richard said:

html all the way, but why use either when you can use php?

on February 17, 2005 12:12 PM
# Nina P said:

I use dreamweaver and it automatically saves my files as htm.
I am a designer - and I didn't know there was a difference between HTML and HTM. I never knew the difference in the amount of characters can be a problem on the backend.

Anyway, I have work to do. I'll visit again to see the responses

on March 5, 2005 02:47 PM
# jk said:

I am very new to the web. I am trying to develop a site for the simple purpose of selling product. I am examining everything I can think of to get a better ranking. I was wondering if using .html or .htm made any difference when search engine rank your site? I have seen other sites ranked higher than mine even though my content was more relevant and the search words used were more common on my site.

on March 17, 2005 06:21 PM
# Brent said:

Hyper Text Markup Language

Someone asks you what language is your site build in, "oh, HyperTextMarkup" I don't think so. If you say HyperTextMarkupLanguage then use .html

I'll identify your problem for you. The .html and htm extension are going away. You don't believe me. Dynamic content is a must, why have a brochure site when you can show them 5-6 items and then call them by name the next time the come to your site. Oh theres the weather in your neighborhood and by the way do you want to customize this home page click here? Lets see you do that with either html or htm

on March 29, 2005 01:03 PM
# max said:

On unix servers, index.html will
be recognized as the default file.

On MS servers, it has to be index.htm.

or the other way 'round lol

on April 1, 2005 06:12 PM
# celexa info said:


on August 9, 2005 12:25 AM
# John H said:

to our anonymus coward who said on november 7, 2004 (and therefore will likely never read this)
"nothing in this world is free and if it is chances are it's junk"
remember that about 70% of all sites on the internet are hosted on apache an open-source (free if you must) solution to serevrs. long live open-source, not because it's free but because it's the right thing to do.

"it is better to give [read: community] than to recieve [read: $$]."

on August 11, 2005 04:32 PM
# Tim S said:

I used to use .htm back in the early days of Windows 95. But only use .html once i realised that Apache was the #1 webserver of choice.

There will always be those who like to ruin the spirit of a blog. If i see one, thats free from stupid opinions or just plain aggressiveness that would be the day!

Finally i agree with most others about open source. It is *the* way to go in my opinion. Free from patents and therefore lawsuits. Therefore creativity is #1 not IP.

on September 9, 2005 05:29 AM
# RT said:

Nina P, you can force Dreamweaver to save files with whatever extension you want by going to Dreamweaver/Preferences/NewDocument/Default Document Type from there select what you want from the dropdown menu....you can also edit the Cofiguration/DocumentTypes folder in your Dreamweaver directory

on September 12, 2005 03:27 PM
# salaam twahir said:

to brent,
Imagine if all extentions had that extra L on the one...then it would be
JSL instead of JS Java script Language??? lame..
to the rest
I think you people are a bit old...as a young designer and a young man shortining things is what we do best...we did go from WHAT IS UP to WHAT's up to sup...catch up people.

on November 7, 2005 09:02 PM
# Ofloo said:

Well, then let's assume that the htm extension is specificly for IE :p since that is a standart on its own. And html is the real html or xhtml these days..

I've never used htm extensions btw.. cause I just didn't knew what they we're used for.

I always assumed, it was for IE browser specific html code.

on December 3, 2005 07:15 AM
# BulletSeed said:

Well, after having started scripting HTML since '94 on UNIX, then moved to a completely MS environment, I still have no friggin' clue as to which is "more correct", .html or .htm.

Of course, .html sounds more complete and correct. But, on the other hand, I totally agree with Salaam's post, in that it souds totally unnecesary to have the 'L' and the end since practically no other language uses it in its extensions. Think... 'js', 'c', 'cpp', 'vb'. Wouldn't it sound stupid if they all had to be 'jsl', 'cl', 'cppl', 'vbl'? I mean, c'mon, I think we all should know they're all languages by now (even though I hardly consider HTML a language, more like a script).

But, surprised as you may be, I use .html. Don't ask me why... I don't know. I just feel that .htm reminds me too much of my horrible experiences with FrontPage. First time I saw it I remember asking myself, "WHY?!?!!?!? Why would they do that? We can have long filenames now!!! Why do they keep limiting themselves to x.3?"

And that's all I have to say about that.


on December 20, 2005 06:58 PM
# Mark said:

Let's just put this all to rest!

I've been developing for nearly 10 years now! Here's what I learn!

If anyone is using FrontPage, they are a moron! I don't care if it's the professional version! The extentions are bad enough to deal with.

.htm vs. html? As was stated previously! Why is anyone still using these at all that calls themselves a devloper?
If you want to learn php and get a dynamic site up wiht the benefits of open source MAMBO or Joomla is your ticket!

I've designed sites in html(Frames)< BLAH, CFM (on its last leg),asp,net and php! I have to say of all of them php is the best. It's a bit more complicated, but well worth it since you have so many people who support it, not a corporation.

Designing a website on a MAC is no different than designing one on a PC! I actually prefer the PC because I hate the stupid mouse Apple has!

If you can't afford Photoshop, use GIMP!

If you can't afford Dreamweaver, learn the language!

If you can't do it yourself, find a new profession.

Thanks for letting me rant!

on January 27, 2006 09:53 AM
# Will said:

I personally think that this is the stupidist debate there is. I use PHP now exclusivly (w/ Dreamweaver, creating pages on Windows, hosted on FreeBSD). If you go to a site, and they use htm, are you gonna say, "Oh, this site looks nice, but it uses htm extensions! It is a Micro$oft dominated site! Can't go here!"

No, any sane person wouldn't. If the contect was good, you shouldn't be biased against it. IMHO, a well desgined site ends with the extension PHP, ASP, ASPX, JSP, CFM, or CGI.

on March 30, 2006 05:23 AM
# Aaron S said:

Using .htm for HTML pages is equivalent to using .xm for XML files. If you castrate the one you might as well castrate them all.

Whenever I see a website containing .htm pages I make the natural assumption that the developer "in charge" was a kid out of high school using Front Page or Dreamweaver to churn out crap.

on March 30, 2006 03:41 PM

The page has been useful to me and I am satisfied that one can use either .html or .htm for a web page and that both are accepted web documents, and that it is a competition between companies and an attempt to monopolise the business, but without having read this weblog page I would have been lost for some more days or weeks.

on June 2, 2006 06:03 AM
# Jessica said:

I agree with you 100%. We also have Bill Gates to thank, since Microsoft FrontPage is one of the software programs that defaults its pages to ".htm" instead of what should be ".html" .

on July 9, 2006 01:39 PM
# Martin Hansson said:

I use htm because WfW 3.11's 8.3 filename limitation :) Actually I'm running NT 3.51 on my server but the software I'm writting runs on WfW 3.11... WfW 3.11 was the only OS that would run on my 25 MHz/4 MB laptop. Not even slackware would run...

on July 29, 2006 02:35 PM
# Martin Hansson said:

It's the MIME type that matters... You can name the file .xxx and it will still be treated as a html-file if the correct MIME type is set. And if you're serious about creating web pages and using Windows you're using Notepad as your primary html-editor... and Notepad is compatible with any ASCII file...

on July 29, 2006 02:41 PM
# Yondaime said:

Usability issue I use .htm - you cant assume everyone is on Windows XP - since I dont want to disregard users with ancient systems (who can only recognize 8 character filename and 3 character extension name) it is necessary for me to use .htm instead of .html to avoid conflicts with such systems.

on October 12, 2006 01:39 PM
# Doug said:

WOW! This thread is unbelievable. Just goes to show you how – grains of salt!

Jeremy, I have to respectfully disagree with the Win95 3-letter extension bastardization angle.

I'm not that old yet, but surely not the only one who's had the following experience:

While .htm extensions are used in the Frontpage (cough!) world, hey are also used in the professional - read “real” world.

About five to seven years ago, before you could rely on CSS, I designed/light-dev for a better-than-average state gov site optimized for the LCD (Lowest Common Denominator) customer/user – read “phone modem/slow PC/old-small-monitor/any browser/web-safe colors/section 508/ADA compliant” - Yes, accessibility, even back then.

It was a Unix served environment where we had index pages at may levels – and used server-side includes. When we configured for implementing server-side includes we had to use an .hml/.htm naming convention. All index pages had .html extensions while ALL other files had to have .htm. Prior to this all files had .html extensions.

Since I was not the server administrator I didn't have the time to care, but will research it now and report back here. I'm already feeling guilty for taking time to get involved in a topic like this – if it wasn't for seeing so many people thinking they know what they're taking about – “grains of salt”

Rest assured I KNOW THIS: .html/.htm is not just an MS or Frontpage thing, nor just a windows server/op sys thing. Since my time in that environment I've always used .html for the index, and .htm for all else. It has become a convention for me. I've never found where it has caused a problem, and I'll be right at home should I find myself in that environment again.

Stay tuned . . .

on December 21, 2006 05:35 PM
# George said:

Mark said:
"Let's just put this all to rest!

I've been developing for nearly 10 years now! Here's what I learn!

If anyone is using FrontPage, they are a moron! I don't care if it's the professional version! The extentions are bad enough to deal with."

I have never heard such unmitigated, offensive rubbish in all my life.

Does this mean that you also eschew the use of any and all helper programs in your "non-moronic" life? Or is it just that you don't use MS Frontpage, but are a moron in all other respects?

All you "flat Earthers" out there better get a life soon. Come on, it's the 21st century out here in the real world. So why not join in - you might enjoy it.

on January 5, 2007 01:23 AM
# Jack said:

I can hardly believe that this blogging bash-fest over such a petty little thing such as htm or html extensions has been going on since Feb 2003, and still to this year; 2007, still bothering people so much that they feel the need to comment.

Like I am making it any better by commenting myself, but I guess that idiocracy* draws a crowd, kinda like rubber-necking a traffic accident.

*my word, I think, never heard it anywhere else

on January 14, 2007 12:52 AM
# Suzanna said:

Thanks for the good info on the different extensions of htm and html. I have several pages in my site that I never changed to the html extension and was wondering if that effected the way the search engines pick up on those pages also. I finally after a year have a 1 ranking with google so my content must be relevant to enough searches to start showing. I also have several of my pages finished with seo, but it really is an ever changeing area. It seems the more I learn the more I need to learn. Its great to have places like yours to go for answers. Again thank you! Cheers and God Bless from:
Knowledge Creates Power

on January 18, 2007 10:25 AM
# said:

"I say we phase out .htm in favor of .html."
That would be fine but it would ruin bookmarks. Unless you make .htm files that redirect to .html files... But that would be really stupid.

on January 23, 2007 05:06 PM
# Bruce said:

Well, I got an earfull here! I always wondered what the differences were and what was best, using .htm or .html I used FrontPage for a long time, now use nvu (love CSS and nvu). nvu starting creating pages using .html so decided to google the subject and found this. Now I know.

Since my stuff is in .htm (frontpage legacy) will leave it as such for now. You html purists come across as snobs and and the htm saving people, who tout saveing the 'l' character as nitpickers.

on February 4, 2007 06:46 AM
# J said:

Hello all!

I am fairly new to web design myself, but in all my discussions with older, more experienced designers have I ever heard "never use .htm!" or "never use .html!" They both seem to work just fine to me, although I never us .htm, partly because it just seems lazy (I know it isn't, it just feels that way) and partly because that is what some truly terrible web design programs do...

And about frontpage/dreamweaver - Most web design programs really aren't that good. I have never known a serious web developer who uses a web design program for anything but basic syntax highlighting/maintaining a website on a server, etc. And if you trust WYSIWYG editors for ANYTHING . . . . just don't do it, they don't render pages like real browsers.

on June 14, 2007 07:41 PM
# said:

I all hear is all the old timers complaining that htm "seems incomplete", "seems lazy" I know that it is hard to change for old timers, but get over it. Times change, things change. All this complaining from the old timers reminds me of an argument I read about in my history book. When the cars first came out, all the old timers complained and tried to convince people how much better horse and buggy is.

on September 13, 2007 03:34 PM
# David said:

I am relatively new and see the HTML and HTM issue only as a matter of application.

The only "practical" problem that I see between HTML and HTM is that if you are building a site and mixing old and new pages of different page creator software/programmers, and some of the links refer to a link with extension .htm, but later, you had edited that linked page with a WYSIWYG editor such as NVU or KOMPOZER (for example), it may convert the .htm edited page to extension .html upon saving.

You now may find that your links to that page or to other pages do not work unless you check the source code and edit relevant .htm extensions to the .html extension, regarding for the newly saved page. You have essentially created a new page due to the change in one little character, either way, whether going to .html form .htm or visa versa. And now, links pointing to that old page will no longer work when uploaded.

From a practicality standpoint, the issue is one of an editing nightmare due to 1 little character creating broken links.

This is often unavoidable when editing old or acquired .htm pages with different software which forces the .html extension.

on October 16, 2007 09:40 AM
# Julie said:

I principally use htm, even though I never worked with Windows. If you have pages with some hundred links to other files of your site, html is just some hundred characters more code than htm. What good is that for? To me that "l" is just superfluous rummage.

on November 30, 2007 05:56 PM
# Yannick Van Loo said:

I think there is a difference:
The web is all about content related media. Therefore names and abbreviations should be as "semantic" as possible. Let's call a grape a grape and not a GR or a Grap. Otherwise French people might think we're talking about "Grande Route" or Dutch people might think we're talking about "een grap" (a joke in Dutch). Html or Hyper Text Markup Language.

on December 19, 2007 01:59 AM
# Brian said:

Thank you for shedding the light on this. I have always felt my files where naked w/o the "L". Now why would MS rid the "L" and try and confuse self learners like myself?

on February 19, 2008 09:24 AM
# AMP said:

What a lovely thread! Many good points have been made (and some not so convincing). It has brought many smiles to my face :)

I have long favored using .htm only because I feel less is more. You might only save a few dozen characters per page (unless a page full of links) but less is less. If .htm works the same, why bother adding the "l"?

I appreciate the way Slink uses html vs. htm - seems smart enough. I take advantage of the fact that a UNIX host gives priority to html over htm. When needing to edit a site you can change your "under construction" page to index.html and it will trump index.htm. Very easy.

There are lots of clever ways to use html vs. htm. It makes sense to consider them rather than take a firm stand for one vs. the other. It's obvious by now; it just doesn't make any difference which extension you use.

on April 22, 2008 12:41 PM
# xiama said:

does everyone like using css or is originality better

on June 21, 2008 06:55 AM
# said:


I've been switching between the two for years ... thinking "html" "looks" more professional ... but wow ".htm" is faster to type (forget the download speed).

The big thing is to get a standard and stick with it. Now that's professional.

After reading this ... well ... I still know nothing ... but I think frames as ".html" AND "index.html" (regardless of the frames) and ".htm" for everything else seems like a great standard.

But, after reading this ... I still know nothing.


on January 10, 2010 10:13 AM
# shanna1950 said:

Old post, but it still happens!!!
haha, I totally agree.
I don't know WHY .htm should be used. It should be banned.
bastardize: oh wow, I will use that word myself, whenever I bump into another .htm file. I may comment on that to the users too...
and someone said: naked, INDEEDIE

on January 12, 2010 07:28 AM
# caesar said:

My question is, can an htm. extention be changed with some software to a wmv. or a avi.?

on March 16, 2010 03:46 PM
# someone said:

Html stands for hypertext markup language. Html is the tag of a web page as a whole. Original open-source web browser recognized only html files as web pages. Microsoft made Internet Explorer using the original open-source browser, but added recognition for htm files (in tune with 3-char extension policy). All subsequent browsers recognize html and htm pages equally well, thereby leaving no difference between html and htm. So, use whichever extension you like. HOWEVER, never ever miss that "l" in the tag. What is there in a name? It all depends on who looks at it. If your web site is targeted towards Microsoft fans, use htm extension; if it is targeted towards Unix fans, use html extension.

on April 19, 2010 07:09 PM
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