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Why do we have PlaceHolderPageTitleInTitleArea and PlaceHolderPageTitle in master page.

What is the difference between the two?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

The only difference would be where your master page places them. Out of box master pages usually have the PlaceHolderPageTitle in the head section - title tag.

   <title><asp:ContentPlaceHolder id="PlaceHolderPageTitle" runat="server"/></title>

PlaceHolderPageTitleInTitleArea is instead used in the title table, so it is inside the actual page body.

<table class="s4-titletable" cellspacing="0">
         <td class="s4-titlelogo">....</td>
         <td class="s4-titletext">
            <asp:ContentPlaceHolder id="PlaceHolderPageTitleInTitleArea" runat="server" />
            <div class="s4-pagedescription" tabindex="0" >
               <asp:ContentPlaceHolder id="PlaceHolderPageDescription" runat="server"/>
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