<% %> is used just to execute server side code ex. <% if(oject){...} %> <%= %> is used execute server side code and return value ex. <%=Html.Encode(Item["Name"]) %> <%: %> is used execute server side code but it will return Html Encoded string ex. <%Item["Name"] %> <%: item["Title"] %> is equivalent to <%= Html.Encode(item["Title"]) %>