UKOLN AHDS An Introduction To Microformats


This document provides an introduction to microformats, with a description of what microformats are, the benefits they can provide and examples of their usage. In addition the document discusses some of the limitations of microformats and provides advice on best practices for use of microformats.

What Are Microformats?

"Designed for humans first and machines second, microformats are a set of simple, open data formats built upon existing and widely adopted standards. Instead of throwing away what works today, microformats intend to solve simpler problems first by adapting to current behaviors and usage patterns (e.g. XHTML, blogging)." [1].

Microformats make use of existing HTML/XHTML markup: Typically the <span> and <div> elements and class attribute are used with agreed class name (such as vevent, dtstart and dtend to define an event and its start and end dates). Applications (including desktop applications, browser tools, harvesters, etc.) can then process this data.

Examples Of Microformats

Popular examples of microformats include:

An example which illustrates the commercial takeup of the hCalendar microformat is its use with the World Cup 2006 fixture list [4]. This application allows users to choose their preferred football team. The fixtures are marked up using hCalendar and can be easily added to the user's calendaring application.

Limitations Of Microformats

Microformats have been designed to make use of existing standards such as HTML. They have also been designed to be simple to use and exploit. However such simplicity means that microformats have limitations:

Best Practices for Using Microformats

Despite their limitations microformats can provide benefits to the user community. However in order to maximise the benefits and minimise the risks associated with using microformats it is advisable to make use of appropriate best practices. These include:


  1. About Microformats,,
  2. Tails Export: Overview, Firefox Addons,
  3. Google hCalendar,
  4. World Cup KickOff,
  5. Risk Assessment For The IWMW 2006 Web Site, UKOLN,