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The HTMLCollection interface represents a generic collection (array-like object similar to arguments) of elements (in document order) and offers methods and properties for selecting from the list.

Note: This interface is called HTMLCollection for historical reasons (before the modern DOM, collections implementing this interface could only have HTML elements as their items).

An HTMLCollection in the HTML DOM is live; it is automatically updated when the underlying document is changed.


HTMLCollection.length Read only
Returns the number of items in the collection.


Returns the specific node at the given zero-based index into the list. Returns null if the index is out of range.
Returns the specific node whose ID or, as a fallback, name matches the string specified by name. Matching by name is only done as a last resort, only in HTML, and only if the referenced element supports the name attribute. Returns null if no node exists by the given name.

Usage in JavaScript

HTMLCollection also exposes its members directly as properties by both name and index. HTML IDs may contain : and . as valid characters, which would necessitate using bracket notation for property access. Currently HTMLCollections does not recognize purely numeric IDs, which would cause conflict with the array-style access, though HTML5 does permit these.

For example, assuming there is one <form> element in the document and its id is "myForm":

var elem1, elem2;

// document.forms is an HTMLCollection

elem1 = document.forms[0];
elem2 = document.forms.item(0);

alert(elem1 === elem2); // shows: "true"

elem1 = document.forms.myForm;
elem2 = document.forms.namedItem("myForm");

alert(elem1 === elem2); // shows: "true"

elem1 = document.forms["named.item.with.periods"];

Browser compatibility

Different browsers behave differently when there are more than one elements matching the string used as an index (or namedItem's argument). Firefox 8 behaves as specified in DOM 2 and DOM4, returning the first matching element. WebKit browsers and Internet Explorer in this case return another HTMLCollection and Opera returns a NodeList of all matching elements.


Specification Status Comment
The definition of 'HTMLCollection' in that specification.
Living Standard  
Document Object Model (DOM) Level 2 HTML Specification
The definition of 'HTMLCollection' in that specification.
Document Object Model (DOM) Level 1 Specification
The definition of 'HTMLCollection' in that specification.
Recommendation Initial definition.

See also

Document Tags and Contributors

 Last updated by: chrisdavidmills,