How to Find an Element Using Python lxml?

What will you learn?

Explore the power of lxml in Python to effectively locate and extract specific elements within XML or HTML documents.

Introduction to the Problem and Solution

In this tutorial, we delve into the process of finding a particular element within XML or HTML documents using lxml, a versatile library tailored for XML and HTML processing in Python. By leveraging various methods provided by lxml, we can seamlessly navigate through the document structure to pinpoint and extract desired elements with precision.


# Importing necessary libraries
from lxml import etree

# Sample XML content for demonstration purposes
xml_content = '''
    <element id="1">First Element</element>
    <element id="2">Second Element</element>

# Parse the XML content
tree = etree.fromstring(xml_content)

# Finding the element with id=2 using xpath 
target_element = tree.xpath('//element[@id="2"]')[0]

# Print the text of the target element

# Copyright PHD

<!– This code snippet is provided by –>


To achieve our goal, we start by importing essential libraries, such as etree from lxml. We then define sample XML content stored in xml_content and proceed to parse it using etree.fromstring() method, which generates an object representing the entire XML structure. Utilizing XPath – a powerful query language for selecting nodes from an XML document – we search for specific elements based on defined criteria. In this case, tree.xpath(‘//element[@id=”2″]’) targets elements named “element” with attribute “id” set to “2”. By accessing and printing out the text of our identified element, we successfully demonstrate element retrieval using lxml.

    How do I install lxml in Python?

    You can install lxml via pip by executing pip install lxml.

    Can I use CSS selectors with lxml?

    No, lxml primarily relies on XPath expressions for locating elements within XML/HTML documents.

    What if my target element lacks attributes?

    You can search based on other factors like tag names or position within the document structure.

    Is there an alternative method besides XPath for locating elements?

    Yes, you can also traverse elements using iterators like .iter() offered by lxml.

    Can I modify or delete elements once located using lxml?

    Absolutely! After identifying an element, you can adjust its attributes or parent-child relationships as needed.


    In conclusion, the ability to locate and extract elements from structured documents like XML or HTML is significantly enhanced through libraries such as lxml, which provide robust querying capabilities via XPath. Mastery of these techniques equips developers with the means to efficiently retrieve desired information from intricate data formats.

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