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Used to construct arbitrary sequences. It may select any sequence of nodes and/or atomic values, and essentially adds these to the result sequence.

Available in XSLT 2.0 and later versions. Available in all Saxon editions.

  • Category: instruction
  • Content: sequence-constructor
  • Permitted parent elements: any XSLT element whose content model is sequence-constructor; any literal result element


Specifies the input. Mandatory attribute in XSLT 2.0, but in XSLT 3.0 (and implemented since Saxon 9.5) the input may be specified either by a select attribute, or by the enclosed sequence constructor.


The xsl:sequence element may be used to produce any sequence of nodes and/or atomic values. These are included in the result sequence directly. Unlike xsl:copy-of, no copy is made.

The most common use is to return a result from a function (see Example 1).

There are two other interesting usage scenarios. The first is copying atomic values into a tree (see Example 2). The second, more important, is constructing a sequence-valued variable (see Example 3). A variable is sequence-valued if the variable binding element (e.g. xsl:variable) has non-empty content, an as attribute, and no select attribute.

If nodes are constructed within a sequence-valued variable, they will be parentless. See Example 4 for an example of a sequence-valued variable containing parentless nodes.


Example 1

Returning a result from a function:

<xsl:function name="f:increment" as="xs:integer">
    <xsl:param name="in" as="xs:integer"/>
    <xsl:sequence select="$in + 1"/>

Example 2

Copying atomic values into a tree:

    <xsl:sequence select="1 to 5"/>
    <xsl:sequence select="6 to 10"/>

This produces the output <e>1 2 3 4 5<br/>6 7 8 9 10</e>.

Example 3

Constructing a sequence-valued variable:

<xsl:variable name="seq" as="xs:integer *">
    <xsl:for-each select="1 to 5">>
       <xsl:sequence select=". * ."/>

This produces the sequence (1, 4, 9, 16, 25) as the value of the variable.

Example 4

Creating a variable whose value is a sequence of three parentless attributes:

<xsl:variable name="seq" as="attribute() *">
    <xsl:attribute name="a">10</xsl:attribute>
    <xsl:attribute name="b">20</xsl:attribute>
    <xsl:attribute name="a">30</xsl:attribute>

It is quite legitimate to have two attributes in the sequence with the same name; there is no conflict until an attempt is made to add them both to the same element. The attributes can be added to an element by using <xsl:copy-of select="$seq"/> within an xsl:element instruction or within a literal result element. At this stage the usual rule applies: if there are duplicate attributes, the last one wins.

See also