/Web APIs

Element: querySelector() method

The querySelector() method of the Element interface returns the first element that is a descendant of the element on which it is invoked that matches the specified group of selectors.





A group of selectors to match the descendant elements of the Element baseElement against; this must be valid CSS syntax, or a SyntaxError exception will occur. The first element found which matches this group of selectors is returned.

Return value

The first descendant element of baseElement which matches the specified group of selectors. The entire hierarchy of elements is considered when matching, including those outside the set of elements including baseElement and its descendants; in other words, selectors is first applied to the whole document, not the baseElement, to generate an initial list of potential elements. The resulting elements are then examined to see if they are descendants of baseElement. The first match of those remaining elements is returned by the querySelector() method.

If no matches are found, the returned value is null.


SyntaxError DOMException

Thrown if the specified selectors are invalid.


Let's consider a few examples.

Find a specific element with specific values of an attribute

In this first example, the first <style> element which either has no type or has type "text/css" in the HTML document body is returned:

const el = document.body.querySelector(
  "style[type='text/css'], style:not([type])"

Get direct descendants using the :scope pseudo-class

This example uses the :scope pseudo-class to retrieve direct children of the parentElement element.


  <h6>Page Title</h6>
  <div id="parent">
    <span>Love is Kind.</span>
      <span>Love is Patient.</span>
      <span>Love is Selfless.</span>


span {
  display: block;
  margin-bottom: 5px;
.red span {
  background-color: red;
  padding: 5px;


const parentElement = document.querySelector("#parent");
let allChildren = parentElement.querySelectorAll(":scope > span");
allChildren.forEach((item) => item.classList.add("red"));


The entire hierarchy counts

This example demonstrates that the hierarchy of the entire document is considered when applying selectors, so that levels outside the specified baseElement are still considered when locating matches.


  <h5>Original content</h5>
    inside paragraph
    <span>inside span</span>
    inside paragraph
  <div id="output"></div>


const baseElement = document.querySelector("p");
document.getElementById("output").innerHTML =
  baseElement.querySelector("div span").innerHTML;


The result looks like this:

Notice how the "div span" selector still successfully matches the <span> element, even though the baseElement's child nodes do not include the <div> element (it is still part of the specified selector).

More examples

See Document.querySelector() for additional examples of the proper format for the selectors.


Browser compatibility

Desktop Mobile
Chrome Edge Firefox Internet Explorer Opera Safari WebView Android Chrome Android Firefox for Android Opera Android Safari on IOS Samsung Internet
querySelector 1 12 3.5 9
8querySelector() is supported, but only for CSS 2.1 selectors.
10 3.1 4.4 18 4 10.1 2 1.0

See also

© 2005–2023 MDN contributors.
Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License v2.5 or later.