How to Select Elements By Text in XPath?

Selecting elements by text in XPath is a powerful technique used in web scraping and data extraction from HTML documents. This method is particularly useful when the structure of the document is unknown or when elements do not have unique attributes. XPath, a query language for selecting nodes from an XML document, provides a straightforward way to find elements based on their text content.

How to Select Elements By Text in XPath

To select elements by their text content, XPath offers the text() function and the contains() function. The basic syntax to find an element with exactly matching text content is:

//tagname[text()='exact text']

For example, to find all <p> elements that contain the exact text “Hello World”:

//p[text()='Hello World']

However, web pages often contain dynamic content or text with slight variations, making exact matches impractical. In such cases, the contains() function is invaluable. It allows you to select elements that contain a specified substring. The syntax is:


So, to select <p> elements containing the substring “Hello”:


This method is incredibly flexible and can be adapted to select elements based on partial text matches, which is common in dynamic web content.

Advanced Usage

For more complex scenarios, such as selecting elements based on multiple text conditions or mixing text conditions with attribute conditions, XPath expressions can be combined using logical operators like and and or:

//div[contains(text(),'Important') and @class='message']

This would select all <div> elements with a class attribute of ‘message’ that also contain the text “Important”.

Limitations and Considerations

While selecting elements by text is powerful, it also has limitations. Text-based selections can be fragile if the website’s content changes frequently. It’s also important to consider the performance of XPath queries, as text-based searches can be slower than selecting elements by attributes or using CSS selectors.

Bright Data’s Solutions

One of Bright Data’s standout offerings is its Ready-to-Use Datasets. These datasets provide instant access to structured data from numerous sources and industries without the need to deal with web scraping challenges like XPath queries. Whether you’re looking for e-commerce product data, market research insights, or social media analytics, Bright Data’s datasets can save time and resources, allowing you to focus on analysis and decision-making rather than data extraction.

In conclusion, selecting elements by text in XPath is a useful technique in web scraping, offering flexibility in targeting specific content within web pages. However, for those looking to bypass the complexity of manual data extraction, Bright Data’s ready-to-use datasets offer a convenient and efficient alternative.

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