I am automating my application using Protractor. For one of the elements, I am using xpath, which is as follow:

element(by.xpath('//ul[@id="employee-list"]/li[contains(text(),"Master Shifu")]'));

Instead of the string Master Shifu, I want to pass a variable empname. I tried a couple of things but no success. I would really appreciate help on this.

The last thing I tried is as follow, but it did not work:

element(by.xpath("//ul[@id="employee-list"]/li[contains(text(),'" + empname + "')]"));

When I use the above xpath, I am getting below error:

        SyntaxError: missing ) after argument list
                    return element(by.xpath("//ul[@id="employee-list"]/li[contains(text(),'" + empname + "')]")).getText();
        SyntaxError: missing ) after argument list
            at createScript (vm.js:80:10)
            at Object.runInThisContext (vm.js:139:10)
            at Module._compile (module.js:616:28)
            at Object.Module._extensions..js (module.js:663:10)
            at Module.load (module.js:565:32)
            at tryModuleLoad (module.js:505:12)
            at Function.Module._load (module.js:497:3)
            at Module.require (module.js:596:17)
            at require (internal/module.js:11:18)
            at Object.<anonymous> (C:\testing\protractor\page\login_page.js:2:1)

2 Answers 2


SyntaxError: missing ) after argument list

You are nesting double quotes into double quotes:

return element(by.xpath("//ul[@id="employee-list"]/li[contains(text(),'" + empname + "')]")).getText();
                        ^   HERE  ^

I just usually use a combination of single and double quotes in cases like this:

return element(by.xpath("//ul[@id='employee-list']/li[contains(text(),'" + empname + "')]")).getText();

Or, alternatively, you can use the by.cssContainingText locator:

return element(by.cssContainingText("#employee-list > li", empname));

which I think is much more readable and straightforward.

  • Thank you, @Alecxe. The xpath that you provided, worked. However, the one by CSS locator did not work. Anyway, thanks a ton, mate!
    – Aalok
    Commented May 13, 2018 at 6:43
  • I wonder if return element(by.cssContainingText("#employee-list li", empname)); would work ? Commented May 13, 2018 at 14:45
  • Michael, it would work, see my example below for more clarity... Commented May 14, 2018 at 1:05

Yes(as suggested by Alecxe) use by.cssContainingText locator as simplest way:

Example :


  <li class="pet">Dog</li>
  <li class="pet">Cat</li>


// Returns the li for the dog, but not cat.
var pet='Dog';
var dog = element(by.cssContainingText('.pet', pet));

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.