Returns the first element that is a descendant of the element on which it is invoked that matches the specified group of selectors.


element = baseElement.querySelector(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.


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:

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

The entire hierarchy counts

The next example, below, demonstrates that the hierarchy of the entire document is considered when applying selectors, so that levels which are 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>


var 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 matches the <span> element, even though the baseElement excludes the div element which is part of the specified selector.

More examples

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


Specification Status Comment
The definition of 'querySelectorAll()' in that specification.
Selectors API Level 2
The definition of 'querySelectorAll()' in that specification.
Working Draft  
Selectors API Level 1
The definition of 'querySelectorAll()' in that specification.

Browser compatibility

Feature Chrome Firefox (Gecko) Internet Explorer Opera Safari (WebKit)
Basic support 1

3.5 (1.9.1)

9 [1]


Feature Android Firefox Mobile (Gecko) Firefox OS (Gecko) IE Phone Opera Mobile Safari Mobile Chrome for Android
Basic support (Yes) (Yes) (Yes) (Yes) (Yes) (Yes) (Yes)

[1] querySelector() is supported in IE8, but only for CSS 2.1 selectors.

See also

Document Tags and Contributors

 Last updated by: Sheppy,