HTML <select> Tag

HTML <select> tag is used to create drop down list of options, which appears when the user clicks on form element, and it allows to choose one of the options.

The <option> tag is used to define the possible options to choose from. The tag is put into the <select> tag.

The first option from the list of options is selected by default. To change a predefined option, the selected attribute is used.

The <optgroup> tag is used to group several options into one group.The content of <optgroup> looks like heading in bold.

The look of the list depends on the "size" attribute, which defines the height of the list. The width of the list depends on the length of the text inside <option>. The width can also be regulated with CSS styles.

The <select> tag is difficult to style effectively with CSS. You can affect certain parts of an element. For example, it’s possible to control the displayed font, box model, etc., as well as you can use the appearance property for removing the default system appearance. But these properties do not give a stable result across browsers. The internal structure of the <select> tag is complicated, and it is difficult to control. For getting a full control, you may need a library with better styling form widgets, or a dropdown menu using non-semantic elements.

If you need to send the data to the server or refer to the list with scripts, the <select> tag should be put inside the <form> tag.

Syntax

The <select> tag comes in pairs. The content is written between the opening (<select>) and closing (</select>) tags.

Example of the HTML <select> tag:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
  <head>
    <title>Title of the document</title>
  </head>
  <body>
    <form>
      <select>
        <option value="books">Books</option>
        <option value="html">HTML</option>
        <option value="css">CSS</option>
        <option value="php">PHP</option>
        <option value="js">JavaScript</option>
      </select>
    </form>
  </body>
</html>

Result


Example of the HTML <select> tag with the <optgroup> tag:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
  <head>
    <title>Window title of the page</title>
  </head>
  <body>
    <select aria-label="Books nad Snippets">
      <optgroup label="Books">
        <option value="html">HTML</option>
        <option value="css">CSS</option>
      </optgroup>
      <optgroup label="Snippets">
        <option value="git">Git</option>
        <option value="java">Java</option>
      </optgroup>
    </select>
  </body>
</html>

In this example, the <optgroup> tag is used to collect the options into groups.

Result



Example of the HTML <select> tag with the <form> tag:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
  <head>
    <title>Window title of the page</title>
  </head>
  <body>
    <p>Airport of departure:</p>
    <form action="action_form.php" method="get">
      <input type="text" list="airports" name="airports"> 
      <datalist id="airports">
        <option value="Berlin">
        <option value="Los Angeles">
        <option value="Moscow">
        <option value="Paris">
      </datalist>
      <input type="submit" value="confirm">
    </form>
  </body>
</html>

In this example, the <form> tag is used because we need to send information to the server.

Result

Airport of departure:


Attributes

Attribute Value Description
autofocus autofocus Defines that the list should be focused after the page loads.
disabled disabled Indicates that the list is disabled, the user cannot interact with it.
form form_id Defines the form which the element is connected with.
Is not supported in Firefox.
multiple: multiple: Indicates that more than one options can be chosen. The method of choosing more than one option depends on the operating system. In Windows, you need to keep CTRL button pressed, in Mac CMD button.
name name Defines a name for the drop down menu. It can be used to access the data of the form after it has been sent or to link to JavaScript element.
required required Indicated that the the choice of an option is required.
size number Indicated the count of the options in drop down list. If the value of "size" attribute is bigger than 1 and smaller than the total number of the options in the list, the browser will automatically add a scroll to indicate that there are more options to view.

The <select> tag supports Global attributes and the Event Attributes.

How to style <select> tag?

Common properties to alter the visual weight/emphasis/size of text in <select> tag:

  • CSS font-style property sets the style of the font. normal | italic | oblique | initial | inherit.
  • CSS font-family property specifies a prioritized list of one or more font family names and/or generic family names for the selected element.
  • CSS font-size property sets the size of the font.
  • CSS font-weight property defines whether the font should be bold or thick.
  • CSS text-transform property controls text case and capitalization.
  • CSS text-decoration property specifies the decoration added to text, and is a shorthand property for text-decoration-line, text-decoration-color, text-decoration-style.

Coloring text in <select> tag:

  • CSS color property describes the color of the text content and text decorations.
  • CSS background-color property sets the background color of an element.

Text layout styles for <select> tag:

  • CSS text-indent property specifies the indentation of the first line in a text block.
  • CSS text-overflow property specifies how overflowed content that is not displayed should be signalled to the user.
  • CSS white-space property specifies how white-space inside an element is handled.
  • CSS word-break property specifies where the lines should be broken.

Other properties worth looking at for <select> tag:


Browser support



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