How To Define The File Paths In HTML?

When building a web page, specifying file paths correctly is crucial for the browser to locate and display various resources, such as images, stylesheets, scripts, and other assets.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore different types of file paths in HTML and how to use them effectively.

Table of Contents #
  1. Introduction
  2. Absolute File Paths
  3. Relative File Paths
  4. Root-Relative Paths
  5. HTML Relative File Path Examples
  6. Common Pitfalls and Best Practices
  7. Conclusion

1. Introduction

In HTML, file paths are used to specify the location of resources associated with a web page. There are different types of file paths, each serving a specific purpose. The choice of file path depends on the location of the resource in relation to the HTML file.

2. Absolute File Paths

Absolute Paths for External Resources

Absolute paths provide the complete URL to a resource, including the protocol (http or https). They are commonly used for external resources hosted on other servers.

<!-- Absolute path for an external stylesheet -->
<link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="">

Absolute Paths for Internal Resources

Absolute paths for internal resources specify the full path from the root directory of the server to the resource. They are less common but can be useful in specific scenarios.

<!-- Absolute path for an internal image -->
<img src="/images/logo.png" alt="Logo">

3. Relative File Paths

Relative Paths for External Resources

Relative paths specify the location of a resource in relation to the current file. They are commonly used for resources within the same website.

<!-- Relative path for an external script -->
<script src="js/script.js"></script>

Relative Paths for Internal Resources

Relative paths for internal resources specify the path from the current file to the resource. They are used when the resource is in a subdirectory or parent directory.

<!-- Relative path for an internal stylesheet -->
<link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="../css/style.css">

4. Root-Relative Paths

Root-relative paths start with a forward slash (/) and specify the path from the root directory of the website. They are a concise way to reference resources.

<!-- Root-relative path for an internal image -->
<img src="/images/photo.jpg" alt="Photo">

5. HTML Relative File Path Examples

In the following examples we will follow the directory structure given below, and the target file will be main.html.

  • Linking to an Image in the Same Directory:
    <img src="image.jpg" alt="Example Image">
  • Linking to a Stylesheet in a Subdirectory:
    <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="css/style.css">
  • Linking to a Script in a Parent Directory:
    <script src="../js/script.js"></script>
  • Linking to a Root-Level File:
    <a href="/other.html">Go to Other Page</a>
  • Linking to a Parent Directory:
    <a href="../index.html">Go to Home</a>
  • .” (single dot) represents the current directory.
  • ..” (double dot) represents the parent directory.
  • /” is the directory separator.

6. Best Practices

  • Case Sensitivity

    File paths are case-sensitive on some servers. Be consistent with letter casing to avoid issues.

  • Forward Slash vs. Backslash

    Use forward slashes (/) as directory separators in HTML, even on Windows servers, for better cross-platform compatibility.

  • Use of Quotes

    Enclose file paths in single or double quotes to ensure correct interpretation, especially if the path contains spaces.


Correctly defining file paths in HTML is essential for a well-structured and functional web page. Whether using absolute, relative, or root-relative paths depends on the specific requirements of the project.

Understanding the nuances and best practices ensures smooth resource linking and enhances the maintainability of your web development projects. By following these guidelines, you can navigate the intricate landscape of file paths in HTML with confidence.