part of Hypertext Transfer Protocol -- HTTP/1.1
RFC 2616 Fielding, et al.

7 Entity

Request and Response messages MAY transfer an entity if not otherwise restricted by the request method or response status code. An entity consists of entity-header fields and an entity-body, although some responses will only include the entity-headers.

In this section, both sender and recipient refer to either the client or the server, depending on who sends and who receives the entity.

7.1 Entity Header Fields

Entity-header fields define metainformation about the entity-body or, if no body is present, about the resource identified by the request. Some of this metainformation is OPTIONAL; some might be REQUIRED by portions of this specification.

       entity-header  = Allow                    ; Section 14.7
                      | Content-Encoding         ; Section 14.11
                      | Content-Language         ; Section 14.12
                      | Content-Length           ; Section 14.13
                      | Content-Location         ; Section 14.14
                      | Content-MD5              ; Section 14.15
                      | Content-Range            ; Section 14.16
                      | Content-Type             ; Section 14.17
                      | Expires                  ; Section 14.21
                      | Last-Modified            ; Section 14.29
                      | extension-header
       extension-header = message-header

The extension-header mechanism allows additional entity-header fields to be defined without changing the protocol, but these fields cannot be assumed to be recognizable by the recipient. Unrecognized header fields SHOULD be ignored by the recipient and MUST be forwarded by transparent proxies.

7.2 Entity Body

The entity-body (if any) sent with an HTTP request or response is in a format and encoding defined by the entity-header fields.

       entity-body    = *OCTET

An entity-body is only present in a message when a message-body is present, as described in section 4.3. The entity-body is obtained from the message-body by decoding any Transfer-Encoding that might have been applied to ensure safe and proper transfer of the message.

7.2.1 Type

When an entity-body is included with a message, the data type of that body is determined via the header fields Content-Type and Content- Encoding. These define a two-layer, ordered encoding model:

       entity-body := Content-Encoding( Content-Type( data ) )

Content-Type specifies the media type of the underlying data. Content-Encoding may be used to indicate any additional content codings applied to the data, usually for the purpose of data compression, that are a property of the requested resource. There is no default encoding.

Any HTTP/1.1 message containing an entity-body SHOULD include a Content-Type header field defining the media type of that body. If and only if the media type is not given by a Content-Type field, the recipient MAY attempt to guess the media type via inspection of its content and/or the name extension(s) of the URI used to identify the resource. If the media type remains unknown, the recipient SHOULD treat it as type "application/octet-stream".

7.2.2 Entity Length

The entity-length of a message is the length of the message-body before any transfer-codings have been applied. Section 4.4 defines how the transfer-length of a message-body is determined.