How to find HTML element by their tag name using Beautiful Soup

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by Abdul Rawoof A R dot icon Updated: Aug 23, 2023

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Beautiful Soup is the most used Python library. It helps with web scraping and parsing HTML and XML. You can easily get data from web pages by using the parse tree.

The parse tree comes from the HTML or XML source. Leonard Richardson released Beautiful Soup in 2004. He wanted it to be an easy-to-use Python package for web scraping. The main goal was to help programmers parse HTML and XML documents more easily. Beautiful Soup gained popularity due to its simplicity and effectiveness. It became a go-to tool for web scraping tasks within the Python community.   


Beautiful Soup's user base expanded beyond Python web scraping enthusiasts. Its powerful parsing capabilities and API attracted developers from various backgrounds. Many people use Beautiful Soup for different tasks as it is powerful and flexible.  


People use it in web scraping, data analysis, and machine learning. Here are some different applications of Beautiful Soup in these domains:   

  • Web Scraping.   
  • Data Extraction.   
  • Data Cleaning.   
  • Text Analysis.   
  • Feature Extraction.   
  • Web Content Monitoring.   
  • Data Integration.   
  • Research and Analysis.   


The main strength of Beautiful Soup is searching for the parse tree. You can also change the tree and save your edits as a new HTML or XML document. Parsers work at different speeds. However, they create the same data structure as the original HTML document. The copy is separate from the original Beautiful Soup object tree. That's the only difference. We renamed some arguments to the Beautiful Soup constructor for the same reasons. You can use a shortcut because it is the popular method in the Beautiful Soup search API. Please submit your translation to the Beautiful Soup discussion group. You can either attach it to a message or include a link. 


If you don't have or have installed it, you can download and install the Beautiful Soup 4 source tarball. We already called the soup object to get items, so we only need to index to the first item. Beautiful Soup supports the HTML parser, which the standard library includes. But it also supports some third-party Python parsers. If you want to use it outside of Beautiful Soup, you should call on it to turn it into a standard Python Unicode string. The method converts a Beautiful Soup parse tree into a formatted Unicode string. Each tag and string gets its own line.   


Here is an example of how to find HTML elements by their tag name using BeautifulSoup:   

Fig: Preview of the output that you will get on running this code from your IDE.


In this solution we are using Beautiful Soup 4 library.

from bs4 import BeautifulSoup

html = '''
<table border="1" cellspacing="0" width="300">
          <td width="50%"><a href="javascript:newDoWindowOpen('','Vocab','500','500',0)">lesson 1</a></td>
          <td><a href="javascript:newDoWindowOpen('','Vocab','500','500',0)">lesson 7</a></td>
          <td width="50%"><a href="javascript:newDoWindowOpen('','Vocab','500','500',0)">lesson 2</a></td>
          <td><a href="javascript:newDoWindowOpen('','Vocab','500','500',0)">lesson 8</a></td>
          <td width="50%"><a href="javascript:newDoWindowOpen('','Vocab','500','500',0)">lesson 3</a></td>
          <td><a href="javascript:newDoWindowOpen('','Vocab','500','500',0)">lesson 9</a></td>
          <td width="50%"><a href="javascript:newDoWindowOpen('','Vocab','500','500',0)">lesson 4</a></td>
          <td><a href="javascript:newDoWindowOpen('','Vocab','500','500',0)">lesson 10</a></td>
          <td width="50%"><a href="javascript:newDoWindowOpen('','Vocab','500','500',0)">lesson 5</a></td>
          <td><a href="javascript:newDoWindowOpen('','Vocab','500','500',0)">lesson 11</a></td>
          <td width="50%"><a href="javascript:newDoWindowOpen('','Vocab','500','500',0)">lesson 6</a></td>
          <td><a href="javascript:newDoWindowOpen('','Vocab','500','500',0)">lesson 12</a></td>

soup = BeautifulSoup(html, 'html.parser')

# Function takes one <td> tag, finds it's child which is an <a> tag
# it then finds the text inside it and then splits it to get the number
# this is then returned to the sorted function as an int
def sort_soup(item):
    item = list(item.children)[0].text
    data = item.split(" ")
    return int(data[1])

out = soup.findAll('td') 
out = sorted(out, key= lambda elem: sort_soup(elem))


Follow the steps carefully to get the output easily.

  1. Install PyCharm Community Edition on your computer.
  2. Open terminal and install the required libraries with following commands.
  3. Install Beautiful Soup 4 - pip install beautifulsoup4.
  4. Create a new Python file(eg:
  5. Copy the snippet using the 'copy' button and paste it into that file.
  6. Run the file using run button.

I hope you found this useful. I have added the link to dependent libraries, version information in the following sections.

I found this code snippet by searching for 'Sort Beautiful soup elements by text value' in kandi. You can try any such use case!

Environment Tested

I tested this solution in the following versions. Be mindful of changes when working with other versions.

  1. The solution is created in PyCharm 2022.3.3.
  2. The solution is tested on Python 3.9.7.
  3. Beautiful soup version 4.9.2.

Using this solution, we are able to find HTML element by their tag name using Beautiful Soup with simple steps. This process also facilities an easy way to use, hassle-free method to create a hands-on working version of code which would help us to find HTML element by their tag name using Beautiful Soup.

Dependent Library

BeautifulSoup4by wention

Python doticonstar image 58 doticonVersion:Currentdoticon
License: Others (Non-SPDX)

git mirror for Beautiful Soup 4.3.2


            BeautifulSoup4by wention

            Python doticon star image 58 doticonVersion:Currentdoticon License: Others (Non-SPDX)

            git mirror for Beautiful Soup 4.3.2

                      You can also search for any dependent libraries on kandi like 'Beautiful Soup'.


                      1. What is the HTML parser library Beautiful Soup, and how does it work?   

                      Beautiful Soup is a Python library. The software uses it for parsing HTML and XML documents. You can easily get and change information from web pages by organizing the HTML/XML code.   


                      Here's how Beautiful Soup works:   

                      • Parsing.   
                      • Tree structure.   
                      • Traversal and searching.   
                      • Data extraction.   
                      • Data manipulation.   
                      • Output.   


                      2. What is a parse tree, and how is it used when working with Beautiful Soup?   

                      A parse tree is also known as a syntax tree. Formal grammar organizes a sentence or code in a tree structure. It shows how the individual elements of the sentence or code relate to each other.   


                      A popular Python library used for web scraping and parsing HTML or XML documents. When Beautiful Soup parses the document, it creates a parse tree. The parse tree represents the hierarchical structure of the document.  


                      3. Can you explain the Beautiful Soup search API and how to use it?   

                      Many people like using Beautiful Soup, a Python library. It helps you get information from websites. The search API of Beautiful Soup has methods for finding and exploring parsed HTML/XML trees.   


                      To use Beautiful Soup, first create a BeautifulSoup object. This object represents the parsed HTML or XML document. To make this object, give the HTML/XML content or a file object to BeautifulSoup.   


                      4. Why is web scraping with beautiful soup tag names better than other methods?   

                      There are many advantages to using BeautifulSoup for web scraping with tag names. 

                      • Simplicity.   
                      • Readability.   
                      • Flexibility.   
                      • Robustness.   
                      • Performance.   
                      • Compatibility.   


                      5. In certain cases, Is lxml's HTML parser a good substitute for beautiful soup tag names?   

                      Sometimes, lxml's HTML parser can effectively replace Beautiful Soup's tag name function. lxml is a powerful library for parsing and manipulating HTML and XML documents in Python. It provides a flexible and efficient API for working with HTML structures.   


                      Beautiful Soup is a popular library. It helps parse HTML and XML documents. It can search for tags and extract data. The interface is simple and easy to use, so people like to use it for web scraping and data extraction.  


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