CSS selectors for Selenium with example

When we don't have an option to choose Id or Name, we should prefer using CSS locators as the best alternative.
CSS is "Cascading Style Sheets" and it is defined to display HTML in structured and colorful styles are applied to webpage.

Selectors are patterns that match against elements in a tree, and as such form one of several technologies that can be used to select nodes in an XML document. Visit to know more W3.Org Css selectors

  • CSS has more Advantage than Xpath
  • CSS is much more faster and simpler than the Xpath.
  • In IE Xpath works very slow, where as Css works faster when compared to Xpath.

Click here to view examples compared with xpath and css


Example 1: input[id=email]
Example 2: input[name=email][type=text]

In CSS there are two special characters which has important role to play.

1. dot(.) refers to class.


For example if the below is the html for a sign button

<button class="submit btn primary-btn flex-table-btn js-submit" type="submit" style="background-color: rgb(85, 172, 238);">
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In the above html there are multiple classes used for the single button. How to work in such a situation????
Below are the examples to work with classes. If you observe, we have combined multiple classes to work. As the class is not unique like ID, we may require to join two classes and find the accurate element.

The CSS class selector matches elements based on the contents of their class attribute. In the below exampleprimary-btn is class attribute value.

Example 1: css=.primary-btn
Example 2: css=.btn.primary-btn
Example 3: css=.submit.primary-btn

The above can be written like below in selenium

WebElement ele1 = driver.findElement(By.cssSelector(".primary-btn"));
WebElement ele2 = driver.findElement(By.cssSelector(".btn.primary-btn"));
WebElement ele3 = driver.findElement(By.cssSelector(".submit.primary-btn"));

Hash(#) refers to Id



The above one can be re-written as


CSS locator Examples using ID and Class attributes

/* below syntax will find "input" tag node which contains "id=email" attribute */


In selenium we can write it as

WebElement Email = driver.findElement(By.cssSelector("input[id=email]"));

You can make use of Selenium IDE to verify if the identifier is working fine or not. If the element has identified, it will highlight the field and html code in Yellow color.

Below syntax will find "input" tag which contains "id=email" and "type=text" attribute. Again here we have added multiple attributes which the input tag has. For username, we will have the text type as 'text' and for password the text type will be 'password'.


Below is the syntax for using input Tag and class attribute: It will find input tag which contains "submitButton" class attribute.


Please find the below screen shot with example:
single elements

Using CSS locators, we can also locate elements with sub-strings. Which are really help full when there are dynamically generated ids in webpage

There are there important special characters in css selectors:
1. '^' symbol, represents the starting text in a string.
2. '$' symbol represents the ending text in a string.
3. '*' symbol represents contains text in a string.

CSS Locators for Sub-string matches(Start, end and containing text) in selenium
/*It will find input tag which contains 'id' attribute starting with 'ema' text. Email starts with 'ema' */


If you remove the symbol an try to find the element with same sub-string, it will display error as "locator not found". We can observe the error in the below screen shot. one with error and the other with success

starting substring

/*It will find input tag which contains 'id' attribute ending with 'ail' text. Email ends with 'mail' */


/* It will find input tag which contains 'id' attribute containing 'mai' text. Email contains 'mai' */


CSS Element locator using child Selectors

/* First it will find Form tag following remaining path to locate child node.*/


CSS Element locator using adjacent selectors
/* It will try to locate "input" tag where another "input" tag is present on page. the below example will select third input adjacent tag.

css=input + input + input

CSS selector to select first element

We can do this in two ways : -

First using first-of-type - which represents the first element among siblings of its element type and :nth-of-type() matches elements of a given type, based on their position among a group of siblings.

Let us see an example on this using html.

<div class="home">   
    <p class="red">second</p>   
    <p class="red">third</p>   
    <p class="red">fourth</p> 

To select the first element with class 'red', css selector should be .red:first-of-type and using nth-of-type, css should be .red:nth-of-type(1)

CSS selector to select last element

Using :last-of-typeselector, we can target the last occurrence of an element within its container. let us look at the below example with html :-

<div class="cList">
    <div class="test"> hello test example1 </div>
    <div class="test"> hello test example2 </div>
    <div class="test"> hello test example3 </div>

In the above example, if we want to select ' hello test example3', css selector should be .test:last-of-type.

Selenium Tutorials: 


Go and jump from the peak of mount everest then you can use text() function in css

Nice one. Simple and Crispy.....

I have following scenario - in my html, I have used same class id multiple times.
How to handle test if same CSS class used multiple time in the HTML ?

If same class is reused in the same page, how will we identify any element under that class using indexing.
Just like how we use in xpath (driver.findElement(By.xpath("(//*[@text='Madurai (IXM)'])[2]")).click();)

This was very useful to me. Thank you

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