jQuery UI Autocomplete


Autocomplete, when added to an input field, enables users to quickly find and select from a pre-populated list of values as they type, leveraging searching and filtering.

By giving an Autocomplete field focus or entering something into it, the plugin starts searching for entries that match and displays a list of values to choose from. By entering more characters, the user can filter down the list to better matches.

This can be used to enter previous selected values, for example you could use Autocomplete for entering tags, to complete an address, you could enter a city name and get the zip code, or maybe enter email addresses from an address book.

You can pull data in from a local and/or a remote source: Local is good for small data sets (like an address book with 50 entries), remote is necessary for big data sets, like a database with hundreds or millions of entries to select from.

Autocomplete can be customized to work with various data sources, by just specifying the source option. A data source can be:

  • an Array with local data
  • a String, specifying a URL
  • a Callback

The local data can be a simple Array of Strings, or it contains Objects for each item in the array, with either a label or value property or both. The label property is displayed in the suggestion menu. The value will be inserted into the input element after the user selected something from the menu. If just one property is specified, it will be used for both, eg. if you provide only value-properties, the value will also be used as the label.

When a String is used, the Autocomplete plugin expects that string to point to a URL resource that will return JSON data. It can be on the same host or on a different one (must provide JSONP). The request parameter "term" gets added to that URL. The data itself can be in the same format as the local data described above.

The third variation, the callback, provides the most flexibility, and can be used to connect any data source to Autocomplete. The callback gets two arguments:

  • A request object, with a single property called "term", which refers to the value currently in the text input. For example, when the user entered "new yo" in a city field, the Autocomplete term will equal "new yo".
  • A response callback, which expects a single argument to contain the data to suggest to the user. This data should be filtered based on the provided term, and can be in any of the formats described above for simple local data (String-Array or Object-Array with label/value/both properties).

The demos all focus on different variations of the source-option - look for the one that matches your use case, and take a look at the code.


  • UI Core
  • UI Widget
  • UI Position


A simple jQuery UI Autocomplete.

    source: ["c++", "java", "php", "coldfusion", "javascript", "asp", "ruby"]

<!DOCTYPE html>
  <link href="http://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jqueryui/1.8/themes/base/jquery-ui.css" rel="stylesheet" type="text/css"/>
  <script src="http://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/1.4/jquery.min.js"></script>
  <script src="http://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jqueryui/1.8/jquery-ui.min.js"></script>
  $(document).ready(function() {
    source: ["c++", "java", "php", "coldfusion", "javascript", "asp", "ruby"]
<body style="font-size:62.5%;">
<input id="autocomplete" />






The jQuery UI Autocomplete plugin uses the jQuery UI CSS Framework to style its look and feel, including colors and background textures. We recommend using the ThemeRoller tool to create and download custom themes that are easy to build and maintain.

If a deeper level of customization is needed, there are widget-specific classes referenced within the jquery.ui.autocomplete.css stylesheet that can be modified. These classes are highlighed in bold below.

Sample markup with jQuery UI CSS Framework classes

<input class="ui-autocomplete-input"/>
<ul class="ui-autocomplete ui-menu ui-widget ui-widget-content ui-corner-all">
  <li class="ui-menu-item">
    <a class="ui-corner-all">item 1</a>
  <li class="ui-menu-item">
    <a class="ui-corner-all">item 2</a>
  <li class="ui-menu-item">
    <a class="ui-corner-all">item 3</a>

Note: This is a sample of markup generated by the autocomplete plugin, not markup you should use to create a autocomplete. The only markup needed for that is <input/>.