<xsl:variable> Element

Specifies a value bound in an expression.

  name = QName
  select = Expression


  • select
    The value of the attribute is an Expressions, and the value of the variable is the object that results from evaluating the expression. When this attribute is specified, the content of <xsl:variable> must be empty.

Element Information

Number of occurrences


Parent elements

xsl:attribute, xsl:comment, xsl:copy, xsl:element, xsl:for-each, xsl:if, xsl:otherwise, xsl:param, xsl:processing-instruction, xsl:stylesheetxsl:template, xsl:variable, xsl:when, xsl:with-param, output elements

Child elements

xsl:apply-templates, xsl:attribute, xsl:call-template, xsl:choose, xsl:comment, xsl:copy, xsl:copy-of, xsl:element, xsl:for-each, xsl:if, xsl:processing-instruction, xsl:text, xsl:value-of, xsl:variable, output elements


The value of the variable may be an object of any type that can be returned by an expression. The <xsl:variable> element can specify the value of the variable in three alternative ways:

  • If the element has a select attribute, the value of the attribute must be an expression and the value of the variable is the object that results from evaluating the expression. In this case, the content of the element must be empty.

  • If the element does not have a select attribute and has non-empty content such as one or more child nodes, the content specifies the value. The content is a template that is instantiated to give the value of the variable. The value is a result tree fragment equivalent to a node-set containing just a single root node having as children the sequence of nodes produced by instantiating the template. The base URI of the nodes in the result tree fragment is the base Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) of the variable-binding element.

    An error occurs if a member of the sequence of nodes created by instantiating the template is an attribute node or a namespace node, because a root node cannot have an attribute node or a namespace node as a child.

  • If the content is empty and does not have a select attribute, the value of the variable is an empty string. Thus

    <xsl:variable name="x"/>

    is equivalent to

    <xsl:variable name="x" select="''"/>

    When a variable is used to select nodes by position, be careful not to do the following:

    <xsl:variable name="n">2</xsl:variable>
    <xsl:value-of select="item[$n]"/>

    This will output the value of the first item element, because the variable "n" will be bound to a result tree fragment, not a number. Instead, do either this:

    <xsl:variable name="n" select="2"/>
    <xsl:value-of select="item[$n]"/>

    ... or this:

    <xsl:variable name="n">2</xsl:variable>
    <xsl:value-of select="item[number($n)]"/>

See Also


<xsl:param> Element