code element should be used for any kind of "string that a computer would recognize" (HTML5), for example:
For variables, the
var element can be used.
For computer output, the
samp element can be used.
For user input, the
kbd element can be used.
If a sentence contains computer code (for example, the name of an HTML element), use the
code element to mark it up:
<p>The <code>a</code> element creates a hyperlink.</p>
If the formatting (white space, new lines, indentation) of the code matters, use the
pre element in combination with the
<pre> <code> x = 42 if x == 42: print "x is … … 42" </code> </pre>
You still have to escape characters with special meaning in HTML (like
<), so for displaying a block of HTML code (
<p>This is a paragraph.</p>), it could look like this:
<pre> <code> <p>This is a paragraph.</p> </code> </pre>