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Introduction to JavaScript querySelector() and querySelectorAll() methods

The querySelector() is a method of the Element interface. The querySelector() method allows you to select the first element that matches one or more CSS selectors.

The following illustrates the syntax of the querySelector() method:

let element = parentNode.querySelector(selector); 

In this syntax, the selector is a CSS selector or a group of CSS selectors to match the descendant elements of the parentNode.

If the selector is not valid CSS syntax, the method will raise a SyntaxError exception.

If no element matches the CSS selectors, the querySelector() returns null.

The querySelector() method is available on the document object or any Element object.

Besides the querySelector(), you can use the querySelectorAll() method to select all elements that match a CSS selector or a group of CSS selectors:

let elementList = parentNode.querySelectorAll(selector); 

The querySelectorAll() method returns a static NodeList of elements that match the CSS selector. If no element matches, it returns an empty NodeList.

Note that the NodeList is an array-like object, not an array object. However, in modern web browsers, you can use the forEach() method or the for...of loop.

To convert the NodeList to an array, you use the Array.from() method like this:

let nodeList = document.querySelectorAll(selector);
let elements = Array.from(nodeList); 

Basic selectors

Suppose that you have the following HTML document:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
    <title>querySelector() Demo</title>
        <div id="logo">
            <img src="img/logo.jpg" alt="Logo" id="logo">
        <nav class="primary-nav">
                <li class="menu-item current"><a href="#home">Home</a></li>
                <li class="menu-item"><a href="#services">Services</a></li>
                <li class="menu-item"><a href="#about">About</a></li>
                <li class="menu-item"><a href="#contact">Contact</a></li>
        <h1>Welcome to the JS Dev Agency</h1>

        <div class="container">
            <section class="section-a">
                <p>Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Autem placeat, atque accusamus voluptas
                    laudantium facilis iure adipisci ab veritatis eos neque culpa id nostrum tempora tempore minima.
                    Adipisci, obcaecati repellat.</p>
                <button>Read More</button>
            <section class="section-b">
                <h2>PWA Development</h2>
                <p>Lorem ipsum dolor sit, amet consectetur adipisicing elit. Magni fugiat similique illo nobis quibusdam
                    commodi aspernatur, tempora doloribus quod, consectetur deserunt, facilis natus optio. Iure
                    provident labore nihil in earum.</p>
                <button>Read More</button>
            <section class="section-c">
                <h2>Mobile App Dev</h2>
                <p>Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipisicing elit. Animi eos culpa laudantium consequatur ea!
                    Quibusdam, iure obcaecati. Adipisci deserunt, alias repellat eligendi odit labore! Fugit iste sit
                    laborum debitis eos?</p>
                <button>Read More</button>
    <script src="js/main.js"></script>

1) Universal selector

The universal selector is denoted by * that matches all elements of any type:


The following example uses the querySelector() selects the first element in the document:

let element = document.querySelector('*'); 

And this select all elements in the document:

let elements = document.querySelectorAll('*'); 

2) Type selector

To select elements by node name, you use the type selector e.g., a selects all <a> elements:


The following example finds the first h1 element in the document:

let firstHeading = document.querySelector('h1');  

And the following example finds all h2 elements:

let heading2 = document.querySelectorAll('h2'); 

3) Class selector

To find the element with a given CSS class, you use the class selector syntax:


The following example finds the first element with the menu-item class:

let note = document.querySelector('.menu-item'); 

And the following example finds all elements with the menu class:

let notes = document.querySelectorAll('.menu-item'); 

4) ID Selector

To select an element based on the value of its id, you use the id selector syntax:


The following example finds the first element with the id #logo:

let logo = document.querySelector('#logo'); 

Since the id should be unique in the document, the querySelectorAll() is not relevant.

5) Attribute selector

To select all elements that have a given attribute, you use one of the following attribute selector syntaxes:


The following example finds the first element with the attribute [autoplay] with any value:

let autoplay = document.querySelector('[autoplay]'); 

And the following example finds all elements that have [autoplay] attribute with any value:

let autoplays = document.querySelectorAll('[autoplay]'); 

Grouping selectors

To group multiple selectors, you use the following syntax:

selector, selector, ...

The selector list will match any element with one of the selectors in the group.

The following example finds all <div> and <p> elements:

let elements = document.querySelectorAll('div, p'); 


1) descendant combinator

To find descendants of a node, you use the space ( ) descendant combinator syntax:

selector selector

For example p a will match all <a> elements inside the p element:

let links = document.querySelector('p a'); 

2) Child combinator

The > child combinator finds all elements that are direct children of the first element:

selector > selector

The following example finds all li elements that are directly inside a <ul> element:

let listItems = document.querySelectorAll('ul > li'); 

To select all li elements that are directly inside a <ul> element with the class nav:

let listItems = document.querySelectorAll('ul.nav > li'); 

3) General sibling combinator

The ~ combinator selects siblings that share the same parent:

selector ~ selector

For example, p ~ a will match all <a> elements that follow the p element, immediately or not:

let links = document.querySelectorAll('p ~ a'); 

4) Adjacent sibling combinator

The + adjacent sibling combinator selects adjacent siblings:

selector + selector

For example, h1 + a matches all elements that directly follow an h1:

let links = document.querySelectorAll('h1 + a'); 

And select the first <a> that directly follows an h1:

let links = document.querySelector('h1 + a'); 


1) Pseudo-classes

The : pseudo matches elements based on their states:


For example, the li:nth-child(2) selects the second <li> element in a list:

let listItem = document.querySelectorAll('li:nth-child(2)'); 

2) Pseudo-elements

The :: represent entities that are not included in the document.

For example, p::first-line matches the first line of all p elements:

let links = document.querySelector('p::first-line'); 


  • The querySelector() finds the first element that matches a CSS selector or a group of CSS selectors.
  • The querySelectorAll() finds all elements that match a CSS selector or a group of CSS selectors.
  • A CSS selector defines elements to which a CSS rule applies.

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