gives the expression corresponding to the current selection in the specified notebook object.


gives the expression corresponding to the given cell or box object.


gives a list of expressions corresponding to the obji.

Details and Options

  • NotebookRead is the basic way to get into the kernel pieces of notebooks that are being manipulated by the front end.
  • NotebookRead can take a NotebookObject, CellObject, or BoxObject.
  • If a list of CellObject or BoxObject expressions is given, then a list of equal length will be returned, with the expressions corresponding to each object.
  • If an object is no longer valid, NotebookRead returns $Failed. If a list of objects is given, then $Failed will be returned for each of the invalid objects.
  • The following options can be given:
  • CellContext Nonecontext to substitute for $CellContext`
    StripCellGrouping Falsewhether to strip cell grouping when reading contiguously selected cells
  • When NotebookRead[notebook] reads a contiguous selection of cells, selected cell groups are returned as Cell[CellGroupData[]] expressions by default. The option setting StripCellGroupingTrue will force selected cells to be returned as a flat list regardless of grouping.


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Basic Examples  (3)

This creates a document notebook:

This selects the first cell:

This reads the cell and returns its Cell expression:

Read a CellObject:

Read a BoxObject:

Scope  (1)

Create a notebook and move the selection to the first "T":

Read the current selection:

Select multiple cells and read the content:

Select and read graphics:

Display the result:

Options  (2)

CellContext  (1)

Create a target cell with a raw expression in it:

Read the cell using NotebookRead:

Use CellContext to substitute a value for the $CellContext` context:

StripCellGrouping  (1)

Reading a group of cells includes CellGroupData constructs by default:

Use StripCellGrouping to remove the grouping information:

Applications  (1)

A palette that reads the word at the current selection and makes it uppercase:

Wolfram Research (1996), NotebookRead, Wolfram Language function, (updated 2023).


Wolfram Research (1996), NotebookRead, Wolfram Language function, (updated 2023).


Wolfram Language. 1996. "NotebookRead." Wolfram Language & System Documentation Center. Wolfram Research. Last Modified 2023.


Wolfram Language. (1996). NotebookRead. Wolfram Language & System Documentation Center. Retrieved from


@misc{reference.wolfram_2024_notebookread, author="Wolfram Research", title="{NotebookRead}", year="2023", howpublished="\url{}", note=[Accessed: 20-July-2024 ]}


@online{reference.wolfram_2024_notebookread, organization={Wolfram Research}, title={NotebookRead}, year={2023}, url={}, note=[Accessed: 20-July-2024 ]}