Should I use <br>, <br />, or <br/> ?
According to the XHTML guidelines you should either use
<br></br> since XML doesn't allow leaving tags open.
And following the HTML 5 Reference Draft, it tells you that for normal HTML
<br> is self-closing and expected, but that a closing slash is allowed, but also that
<br></br> is not valid and will be interpreted as two line breaks.
You should definitely use
<br /> to stay backwards-compatible with older browsers and choose yourself between
<br />, whichever pleases your aesthetics since dev.w3.org tells you that one or more space characters are optional.
How do I use <br /> ?
<br /> Tag can be easily used by just placing it at whatever position you want your line break to be. See following code example:
<p> First Line<br /> Second Line<br /> Third Line Fourth Line </p>
Third Line Fourth Line
See how the First and second line are separate because an
<br /> is present, but the third and fourth line are actually on the same line.
Should I even use <br /> tags or is it bad practice?
Even though the
<br /> tag is mostly used for creating line breaks, the HTML5 specification allows it to be styled in such a way that the browser does not render line breaks.
[...] line breaks are usually represented in visual media by physically moving subsequent text to a new line, a style sheet or user agent would be equally justified in causing line breaks to be rendered in a different manner, for instance as green dots, or as extra spacing.
But if you want to use it to split paragraphs you are probably better off by creation two
<p> Tags like this:
<p>First paragraph</p> <p>Second paragraph</p>
Because you can then easily adjust the spaces between paragraphs through CSS. Other than that, there is not anything speaking against line breaks, since the
<br /> Tag is not deprecated in any way.
If you want to use the
<br /> Tag as a styling element you should think twice and rather use two
<p> blocks and style them using CSS.
But if you want to use it as a visual separator which shows some dots or similar it is fine to use the
<br /> Tag.