jQuery Lookup Plugin

A jQuery plugin which allows partial autocomplete features on a textarea element based on a trigger character.


$("#myTextArea").lookup({ data: { "#" : ["a", "b", "c"] } });

Once the plugin is applied to a textarea element, the trigger character, in this case '#', will open a menu which changes with further characters to create a selection of matching phrases.

  • The UP and DOWN arrows can be used to highlight an option from the menu.
  • The RETURN, TAB and SPACE (if enabled) keys can be used to select an option from the menu.
  • The ESC key is used to cancel a lookup and close the menu.
  • The MOUSE can also be used to make a selection.

Default function

No options are required other than the data options you wish searched and the trigger character for that dataset.

 data: { "@" : ["bananas", "apples", "pears"] }

Adding options

Options are available if you wish to change the trigger character, add additional trigger characters for different datasets, or set the amount of results shown (default: 4)

 data: { 
  ">" : ["car", "bus", "plane", "bicycle", "train"], 
  "#" : [ "cycle", "drive", "fly", "run", "walk"] 
 limit : "5"


dataan array of strings which will be searched during the lookup (required).
limitthe maximum matching strings to be displayed during a lookup (default: 4).
spaceSelectionallow the space character to make a selection of the current lookup (default: true).


The compatibility I have managed to test is below, covering some of the latest browser versions:

Firefox 4 Safari 5.0.2 Chrome 10.0.648.204 Internet Explorer 8
(with current exception of mouse selection)




The jQuery library should already be imported on the page (1.5.2 or above recommended).

The following files must also be imported on the page:

  • aw20.lookup.js - the plugin workings
  • aw20.lookup.css - the plugin styling

Licence Information

Copyright 2011, aw2.0 Ltd

Dual licensed under the MIT or GPL Version 2 licenses - jquery.org/license.

Support for getInputSelection from stackoverflow.com