How developers can contribute to the HTML5 specification

One thing that may not be entirely clear to web developers is that they can contribute to the HTML5 specification. This is, of course, not limited to web developers. Anyone with an idea can contribute to the HTML5 specification.

Technically, no one can contribute to the HTML5 specification, as it already reached Candidate Recommendation status in December 2012. You can, however, contribute to the next version of the specification which outlines HTML 5.1. Also, if something is deemed important enough, it can be retro-added to the HTML5 Candidate Recommendation should the HTML5 specification editors decide to do so (the addition of the <main> element being a case in point).

Two specifications

It is worth mentioning that there are two versions of the HTML5 specification, one maintained by the W3C, and another maintained by the WHATWG. The WHATWG specification is more fluid and experimental, where things get added and dropped more frequently, whereas the W3C specification is more stable, items only get added and removed once discussed. Many of the more stable changes to the WHATWG specification often end up on the W3C specification.


With this in mind, the easiest way to comment on the WHATWG HTML5 specification is to locate the relevant section, select the text you want to comment on and leave a message using the form at the bottom of the page. Your comment will then be filed in the W3C HTML working group Buzilla (yes, the WHATWG HTML buglist is stored on the W3C Bugzilla!) where it will be eventually reviewed and addressed.

You can also comment via the mailing list email address:

To contribute to the W3C HTML5 specification, simply go to the latest version of the specification, select the text you want to comment on, and click the “file a bug” button in the top right hand corner of the page. This will take you to the W3C HTML Working Group Bugzilla “Enter a Bug” form where you can make your comment.

The best way to contribute to the HTML5 specification where you can comment on and review other’s bugs is to actually join the W3C HTML Working Group, which is open to anyone.

Joining the W3C HTML Working Group

First, check to see if the company you work for is not already a member of the W3C. If they are, then you need to follow a special set of instructions.

If you don’t work for a W3C member, then you can fill out the Public Access Request Form, and you should receive your login name and password within two business days.

Once you have received a login name and password, you can complete the W3C Invited Expert Application. You should receive a reply within ten working days, and if your application is accepted (and it should be!), you will receive an invitation with instructions telling you what to do next to formally join the group.

The final step is to request to join and participate in the HTML Working Group as an Invited Expert by filling out a form. You are now a member of the HTML Working Group. You will be automatically signed up to the relevant mailing lists, through which you can read about changes to the specification, comment on them, and read others’ suggestions.

(You should also take the time to read the following online documents: HTML Working Group Charter, Invited Expert and Collaborator Agreement, and the Policy for Approval of Invited Experts.)


Anyone can comment on aspects of the specification(s), and you are encouraged to do so. To get more actively involved in the decision-making process, joining the W3C HTML Working Group is the way to go.

So, if you care enough about contributing to the future of HTML, then get involved and ensure that the voice of the developer is heard!


  • Mathew Porter

    Its great that the industry seems to have more people wanting to contribute to markups / specification and the momentum that html5 seems to have gathered and the rate it is progressing.

  • Raymond Camden

    Can you comment on the Invited Expert form? You say that a person should be accepted – but – is it really that easy? I assume there are *some* requirements? I mean outside of just knowing HTML.

  • pinakinbhadeshiya

    Hey, I am new to HTML5 and CSS3 can you guys suggest me some sites that I should bookmark ?