HTML <select> Tag

The HTML <select> tag represents a control for selecting amongst a set of options.

The <select> tag is used with the <option> tag to produce a list of options that the user can choose from. The <optgroup> element can also be used for grouping those <option> items.

Syntax

The <select> tag is written as <select></select> with any number of <option> tags nested between the start and end tags.

The name attribute is often included so that any script that processes the form control can reference the selected value.

Like this:

<select name="myName">
	<option value="1">Option 1</option>
	<option value="2">Option 2</option>
	<option value="3">Option 3</option>
</select>

Examples

Basic tag usage

The <optgroup> Element

The <optgroup> element allows you to group the <option> elements within your <select> list. This can be useful when there are many list items and they can be sorted into logical groups.

Like this:

The multiple Attribute

The multiple attribute allows the user to select more than one option at a time. Browsers typically present multiple select lists in a different way to a normal select list.

Like this:

The size Attribute

If you have many options, you might want to display more options to the user (without them having to scroll or interact with the control first).

You can use the size attribute to specify the number of options to show the user.

Like this:

Attributes

Attributes can be added to an HTML element to provide more information about how the element should appear or behave.

There are 3 kinds of attributes that you can add to your HTML tags: Element-specific, global, and event handler content attributes.

The <select> element accepts the following attributes.

Element-Specific Attributes

This table shows the attributes that are specific to the <select> tag/element.

AttributeDescription
autofocusAutomatically gives focus to this control when the page loads. This allows the user to start using the control without having to select it first. There must not be more than one element in the document with the autofocus attribute specified.

This is a boolean attribute. If the attribute is present, its value must either be the empty string or a value that is an ASCII case-insensitive match for the attribute's canonical name, with no leading or trailing whitespace (i.e. either autofocus or autofocus="autofocus").

Possible values:

  • [Empty string]
  • autofocus
disabledDisables the input control. The form control won't accept changes from the user. It also cannot receive focus and will be skipped when tabbing.

This is a boolean attribute. If the attribute is present, its value must either be the empty string or a value that is an ASCII case-insensitive match for the attribute's canonical name, with no leading or trailing whitespace (i.e. either disabled or disabled="disabled").

Possible values:

  • [Empty string]
  • disabled
formSpecifies the ID of a form to which this control belongs.

Possible values:

[The ID of a form element in the element's owner Document]

multipleIndicates whether the user can select multiple rows at once.

This is a boolean attribute. If the attribute is present, its value must either be the empty string or a value that is an ASCII case-insensitive match for the attribute's canonical name, with no leading or trailing whitespace (i.e. either multiple or multiple="multiple").

Possible values:

  • [Empty string]
  • multiple
nameAssigns a name to the input control.
requiredSpecifies that the user is required to select an option before submitting the form.

This is a boolean attribute. If the attribute is present, its value must either be the empty string or a value that is an ASCII case-insensitive match for the attribute's canonical name, with no leading or trailing whitespace (i.e. either required or required="required").

Possible values:

  • [Empty string]
  • required
sizeSpecifies the number of options to show to the user. The value must be a valid non-negative integer greater than zero. If the multiple attribute is present, then the size attribute's default value is 4. If the multiple attribute is absent, then the size attribute's default value is 1.

Global Attributes

The following attributes are standard across all HTML5 elements. Therefore, you can use these attributes with the <select> tag , as well as with all other HTML tags.

  • accesskey
  • class
  • contenteditable
  • contextmenu
  • dir
  • draggable
  • dropzone
  • hidden
  • id
  • inert
  • itemid
  • itemprop
  • itemref
  • itemscope
  • itemtype
  • lang
  • spellcheck
  • style
  • tabindex
  • title
  • translate

For a full explanation of these attributes, see HTML 5 global attributes.

Event Handler Content Attributes

Event handler content attributes enable you to invoke a script from within your HTML. The script is invoked when a certain "event" occurs. Each event handler content attribute deals with a different event.

Below are the standard HTML5 event handler content attributes.

Again, you can use any of these with the <select> element, as well as any other HTML5 element.

  • onabort
  • oncancel
  • onblur
  • oncanplay
  • oncanplaythrough
  • onchange
  • onclick
  • oncontextmenu
  • ondblclick
  • ondrag
  • ondragend
  • ondragenter
  • ondragexit
  • ondragleave
  • ondragover
  • ondragstart
  • ondrop
  • ondurationchange
  • onemptied
  • onended
  • onerror
  • onfocus
  • onformchange
  • onforminput
  • oninput
  • oninvalid
  • onkeydown
  • onkeypress
  • onkeyup
  • onload
  • onloadeddata
  • onloadedmetadata
  • onloadstart
  • onmousedown
  • onmousemove
  • onmouseout
  • onmouseover
  • onmouseup
  • onmousewheel
  • onpause
  • onplay
  • onplaying
  • onprogress
  • onratechange
  • onreadystatechange
  • onscroll
  • onseeked
  • onseeking
  • onselect
  • onshow
  • onstalled
  • onsubmit
  • onsuspend
  • ontimeupdate
  • onvolumechange
  • onwaiting

For a full explanation of these attributes, see HTML 5 event handler content attributes.

Differences Between HTML 4 & HTML 5

HTML5 introduced the following attributes:

  • autofocus
  • disabled
  • form
  • required

To see more detail on the two versions see HTML5 <select> Tag and HTML4 <select> Tag. Also check out the links to the official specifications below.

Template

Here's a template for the <select> tag with all available attributes for the tag (based on HTML5). These are grouped into attribute types, each type separated by a space. In many cases, you will probably only need one or two (if any) attributes. Simply remove the attributes you don't need.

For more information on attributes for this tag, see HTML5 <select> Tag and HTML4 <select> Tag.

<select  
 autofocus=""
 disabled=""
 form=""
 multiple=""
 name=""
 required=""
 size=""
 
 accesskey=""
 class=""
 contenteditable=""
 contextmenu=""
 dir=""
 draggable=""
 dropzone=""
 hidden=""
 id=""
 itemid=""
 itemprop=""
 itemref=""
 itemscope=""
 itemtype=""
 lang=""
 spellcheck=""
 style=""
 tabindex=""
 title=""
 translate=""

 onabort=""
 onautocomplete=""
 onautocompleteerror=""
 onblur=""
 oncancel=""
 oncanplay=""
 oncanplaythrough=""
 onchange=""
 onclick=""
 onclose=""
 oncontextmenu=""
 oncuechange=""
 ondblclick=""
 ondrag=""
 ondragend=""
 ondragenter=""
 ondragexit=""
 ondragleave=""
 ondragover=""
 ondragstart=""
 ondrop=""
 ondurationchange=""
 onemptied=""
 onended=""
 onerror=""
 onfocus=""
 oninput=""
 oninvalid=""
 onkeydown=""
 onkeypress=""
 onkeyup=""
 onload=""
 onloadeddata=""
 onloadedmetadata=""
 onloadstart=""
 onmousedown=""
 onmouseenter=""
 onmouseleave=""
 onmousemove=""
 onmouseout=""
 onmouseover=""
 onmouseup=""
 onmousewheel=""
 onpause=""
 onplay=""
 onplaying=""
 onprogress=""
 onratechange=""
 onreset=""
 onresize=""
 onscroll=""
 onseeked=""
 onseeking=""
 onselect=""
 onshow=""
 onsort=""
 onstalled=""
 onsubmit=""
 onsuspend=""
 ontimeupdate=""
 ontoggle=""
 onvolumechange=""
 onwaiting=""
	>
</select>

Tag Details

For more details about the <select> tag, see HTML5 <select> Tag and HTML4 <select> Tag.

Specifications

Here are the official specifications for the <select> element.

What's the Difference?

W3C creates "snapshot" specifications that don't change once defined. So the HTML5 specification won't change once it becomes an official recommendation. WHATWG on the other hand, develops a "living standard" that is updated on a regular basis. In general, you will probably find that the HTML living standard will be more closely aligned to the current W3C draft than to the HTML5 specification.