http-headers example - Are HTTP headers case-sensitive?

insensitive getheader (5)

header('Content-type: image/png') did not work with PHP 5.5 serving IE11, as in the image stream was shown as text

header('Content-Type: image/png') worked, as in the image appeared as an image

Only difference is the capital 'T'.

In a blog post I use the following PHP to set the content-type of a response:

header('content-type: application/json; charset=utf-8');

I just got a comment on that post saying that content-type needs to be capitalized, Content-type. Is this correct? It seems to work for me with all lower-case, and I assumed the HTTP headers were case-insensitive. Or does it just work because browsers are nice?

The RFC for HTTP (as cited above) dictates that the headers are case-insensitive, however you will find that with certain browsers (I'm looking at you, IE) that capitalizing each of the words tends to be best:

Location: http://.com

Content-Type: text/plain


location: http://.com

content-type: text/plain

This isn't "HTTP" standard, but just another one of the browser quirks, we as developers, have to think about.

HTTP header names are case-insensitive, according to RFC 2616:


Each header field consists of a name followed by a colon (":") and the field value. Field names are case-insensitive.

(Field values may or may not be case-sensitive.)

If you trust the major browsers to abide by this, you're all set.

BTW, unlike most of HTTP, methods (verbs) are case sensitive:

5.1.1 Method

The Method token indicates the method to be performed on the
resource identified by the Request-URI. The method is case-sensitive.

   Method         = "OPTIONS"                ; Section 9.2
                  | "GET"                    ; Section 9.3
                  | "HEAD"                   ; Section 9.4
                  | "POST"                   ; Section 9.5
                  | "PUT"                    ; Section 9.6
                  | "DELETE"                 ; Section 9.7
                  | "TRACE"                  ; Section 9.8
                  | "CONNECT"                ; Section 9.9
                  | extension-method
   extension-method = token

http http-headers