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Differences Between Microformat and Microdata

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by | Aug 21, 2013 | Web Design

The process of writing HTML has been around since the beginning of the World Wide Web.  Microformatting is the historical go-to when writing code, however there are new and more complex methods emerging which deserve some attention.  This is a topic of great controversy, as web developers world wide are concerned that the public will  write code in two different ways that achieve the same effect, but that are incompatible with each other.  Let’s first look at the two methods:


This is the original, and least-complex format method.  It attempts to re-use existing HTML tags to portray meta information and other attributes in website pages.  Automated processing is difficult with this format because the microformating tags originally used to display information do not actually describe what it means.  This form of coding can bridge the gap by including semantics (Microdata) which allow for more complicated methods of automated processing.


This is a slightly more advanced method which has capabilities that differ from microformatting.  In other words, it is used to incorporate semantics into existing microformat content on web pages.   Search engines such as Google and other web indexing systems can effortlessly extract and analyze microdata to provide the user a much richer browsing experience through more relevant results.  It attempts to provide an easier way to annotate HTML elements with machine-readable tags.  Search engines are in favor of using this method as they continue to develop and provide improved and richer data to the consumer.

So, one question remains.  Which format is more relevant in today’s HTML world?  While most websites still use microformats as a basis, there has been a strong push to now incorporate microdata for better indexing and more complex data on sites.  I believe that is important to incorporate both of these elements to your website.  Microdata is not going away anytime soon, so it is best to remain ahead of the curve before the next coding method is adopted.

Below is an example of these two coding methods.  Notice that while they appear similar, the ID codes for microdata provide richer data and more options for diversification:

Microformat EX:

  1. <dl class=”vcard”>
  2.    <dt class=”fn”><a href=”https://ipoint-tech.com” class=”url”>Hans Broman</a></dt>
  3.    <dd class=”title”>SEO Strategist</dd>
  4.    <dd class=”adr”><span class=”locality”>Fort Collins</span>, <abbr title=”Colorado” class=”region”>CO</abbr> <span class=”postal-code”>80525</span></dd>
  5. </dl>

 Microdata EX:

  1. <d1 itemscope itemtype=”https://data-vocabulary.org/Person”>
  2.   <dt itemprop=”name”><a href=”https://ipoint-tech.com” itemprop=”url”>Hans Broman</a></dt>
  3.   <dd itemprop=”title”>SEO Strategist</dd>
  4.   <dd itemprop=”address” itemscope itemtype=”https://data-vocabulary.org/Address”><span itemprop=”locality”>Fort Collins</span>, <abbr title=”Colorado” itemprop=”region”>CO</abbr> <span itemprop=”postal-code>80525</span></dd>
  5. </dl>