/ HTTP Headers


The Accept HTTP header is a cornerstone of the HTTP protocol. Its primary purpose is to notify the server about the types of data that the client can process, based on MIME types.

The Purpose of Accept

This request header plays a significant role in content negotiation, a process that permits the server to select appropriate content or operating parameters for the response. Essentially, it helps the server deliver content in a format that best matches the client’s capabilities and preferences.


The Accept header uses the following syntax:

Accept: <MIME_type>/<MIME_subtype>

Additionally, you can specify multiple MIME types separated by commas, and use quality factors (q) to indicate preference:

Accept: <MIME_type>/<MIME_subtype>, <MIME_type>/<MIME_subtype>;q=<quality_factor>

Possible Values

The Accept header supports numerous MIME types. Some common ones include:

  • text/html
  • application/json
  • application/xml
  • image/png
  • image/jpeg
  • */* (matches any media type)

How it Works: Request and Response

Let’s look at how Accept works in practice:


Suppose a client is capable of handling HTML and XML, but it prefers HTML. It could send a request like this:

GET /document HTTP/1.1
Host: example.com
Accept: text/html, application/xml;q=0.9

In this request, the client signals it prefers text/html but can also accept application/xml, albeit with a lower preference.


The server uses the Accept header to determine the best content format to send back. If the server can provide the resource as text/html, it will do so. Otherwise, it might send the resource as application/xml.

Here’s an example response to the above request:

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Content-Type: text/html


In this response, the server indicates that it’s delivering HTML content. If the server cannot provide a resource matching any of the MIME types listed in the Accept header, it might send a 406 Not Acceptable status.


The Accept header is part of the HTTP/1.1 standard and is widely supported across browsers and servers.


The Accept HTTP header plays a fundamental role in content negotiation between the client and server. It enables the client to specify the media types it can process, thus helping the server deliver the best-suited content. Always consider the client’s capabilities and the server’s resources when working with the Accept header. Proper usage can significantly enhance the overall efficiency and user experience of your web applications.

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