Die Definitionen des HTML-Elements cite in den verschiedenen HTML-Versionen.

HTML-Version Definition und Anmerkungen Beispiele
HTML 2.0 (Draft)

A citation. Typically italic.

A citation is typically italic and has no formal necessary structure: <cite>Moby Dick</cite> is a book title.

HTML 2.0 (RFC 1866)

The <CITE> element is used to indicate the title of a book or other citation. It is typically rendered as italics.

He just couldn't get enough of <cite>The Grapes of Wrath</cite>.

HTML 3.0 (Draft)

The <CITE> element specifies a citation. Sections tagged with the CITE element are typically rendered in italics.

A cite is often italic and has no formally required structure: <cite>Moby Dick</cite> is a book title.

HTML 3.2

CITE used for citations or references to other sources

HTML 4.01 (identisch in HTML 4.0)

Contains a citation or a reference to other sources.

As <CITE>Harry S. Truman</CITE> said, <Q lang="en-us">The buck stops here.</Q>

More information can be found in <CITE>[ISO-0000]</CITE>.

HTML5 (Working Draft 29 March 2012)

The cite element represents the title of a work (e.g. a book, a paper, an essay, a poem, a score, a song, a script, a film, a TV show, a game, a sculpture, a painting, a theatre production, a play, an opera, a musical, an exhibition, a legal case report, etc). This can be a work that is being quoted or referenced in detail (i.e. a citation), or it can just be a work that is mentioned in passing.

A person's name is not the title of a work — even if people call that person a piece of work — and the element must therefore not be used to mark up people's names. (In some cases, the b element might be appropriate for names; e.g. in a gossip article where the names of famous people are keywords rendered with a different style to draw attention to them. In other cases, if an element is really needed, the span element can be used.)

The cite element is obviously a key part of any citation in a bibliography, but it is only used to mark the title

A citation is not a quote (for which the q element is appropriate).

<p>My favorite book is <cite>The Reality Dysfunction</cite> by Peter F. Hamilton. My favorite comic is <cite>Pearls Before Swine</cite> by Stephan Pastis. My favorite track is <cite>Jive Samba</cite> by the Cannonball Adderley Sextet.</p>

<p>According to the Wikipedia article <cite>HTML</cite>, as it stood in mid-February 2008, leaving attribute values unquoted is unsafe. This is obviously an over-simplification.</p>

<p><cite>Universal Declaration of Human Rights</cite>, United Nations, December 1948. Adopted by General Assembly resolution 217 A (III).</p>