Overview of the PDF tags

This overview shows the most important tags from the PDF 1.7 standard. The reference helps you to choose the correct and semantic tags.

The following tags descriptions are from the official Adobe support page. Personal notes are in italic.


Container elements are the highest level of element and provide hierarchical grouping for other block-level elements.

<Document>The root element of a document’s tag tree.
<Part>A large division of a document; may group smaller units of content together, such as division elements, article elements, or section elements.
<Div>(Division) A generic block-level element or group of block-level elements.
<Art>(Article) A self-contained body of text considered to be a single narrative.
<Sect>(Section) A general container element type, comparable to Division (DIV Class=“Sect”) in HTML, which is usually a component of a part element or an article element.

Heading and paragraph elements

<P>Generic paragraph
<H1> to <H6>Headings from level 1 to 6
<H>Heading as the first child of any higher-level division.
It’s usually easier to structure the document with the help of the <H1> to <H6> tags. I don’t recommend to use <H>.

Label and list elements

Label and list elements are block-level elements used for structuring lists.

<L>(List) Any sequence of items of similar meaning or other relevance; immediate child elements should be list item elements.
<LI>(List item) Any one member of a list; may have a label element (optional) and a list body element (required) as a child.
<Lbl>(Label) A bullet, name, or number that identifies and distinguishes an element from others in the same list.
<LBody>(List item body) The descriptive content of a list item.

Special text elements

Special text elements identify text that isn’t used as a generic paragraph <P>.

<BlockQuote>One or more paragraphs of text attributed to someone other than the author of the immediate surrounding text.
<Caption>A brief portion of text that describes a table or a figure.
<Index>A sequence of entries that contain identifying text and reference elements that point out the occurrence of the text in the main body of the document.
<TOC>(Table of contents) An element that contains a structured list of items and labels identifying those items; has its own discrete hierarchy.
<TOCI>(Table of contents item) An item contained in a list associated with a table of contents element.

Table elements

Table elements are special elements for structuring tables.

<Table>A two-dimensional arrangement of data or text cells that contains table row elements as child elements and may have a caption element as its first or last child element.
<TR>(Table row) One row of headings or data in a table; may contain table header cell elements and table data cell elements.
<TD>(Table data cell) A table cell that contains nonheader data.
<TH>(Table header cell) A table cell that contains header text or data describing one or more rows or columns of a table.

Inline-level elements

Inline-level elements identify a span of text that has specific formatting or behavior. They are differentiated from block-level elements. Inline-level elements may be contained in or contain block-level elements.

<BibEntry>(Bibliography entry) A description of where some cited information may be found.
<Quote>An inline portion of text that is attributed to someone other than the author of the text surrounding it; different from a block quote, which is a whole paragraph or multiple paragraphs, as opposed to inline text.
<Span>Any inline segment of text; commonly used to delimit text that is associated with a set of styling properties.

Special inline-level elements

Similar to inline-level elements, special inline-level elements describe an inline portion of text that has special formatting or behavior.

<Code>Computer program text embedded within a document.
<Figure>A graphic or graphic representation associated with text.
<Form>A PDF form annotation that can be or has been filled out.
<Formula>A mathematical formula.
<Link>A hyperlink that is embedded within a document. The target can be in the same document, in another PDF document, or on a website.
<Note>Explanatory text or documentation, such as a footnote or endnote, that is referred to in the main body of text.
<Reference>A citation to text or data that is found elsewhere in the document.