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XmlReader.ReadContentAs Method

Reads the content as an object of the type specified.

Namespace:  System.Xml
Assembly:  System.Xml (in System.Xml.dll)

public virtual Object ReadContentAs(
	Type returnType,
	IXmlNamespaceResolver namespaceResolver


Type: System.Type
The type of the value to be returned.
Note   With the release of the .NET Framework 3.5, the value of the returnType parameter can now be the DateTimeOffset type.
Type: System.Xml.IXmlNamespaceResolver
An IXmlNamespaceResolver object that is used to resolve any namespace prefixes related to type conversion. For example, this can be used when converting an XmlQualifiedName object to an xs:string.
This value can be null.

Return Value

Type: System.Object
The concatenated text content or attribute value converted to the requested type.


The content is not in the correct format for the target type.


The attempted cast is not valid.


The returnType value is null.


The current node is not a supported node type. See the table below for details.


Read Decimal.MaxValue.

This method reads the text content at the current reader position and converts it to the requested return type. Text, white space, significant white space and CDATA sections are concatenated. Comments and processing instructions are skipped and entity references are automatically resolved.

This method is used to read, convert if necessary, and return atomic value items from the current node content. If the input type is a valid mappings for the type of the current node then an instance of the target type containing the value of the current node is returned. The Mapping XML Data Types to CLR Types topic has a list of the default mappings.

For example, if you had the following XML text:

<elem>123 <!-- comment --> <?pi my_text?> 456 <?pi another_pi?></elem>

If the data is typed and a string array is supplied to the ReadContentAs method call, then the integer values are converted from strings according to the list of valid CLR type mappings.

If the data is untyped and a string array is supplied to the ReadContentAs method call, then the content is parsed into separate strings. An array containing two strings is returned with the values "123" and "456". The spaces are not preserved from the content.

In general when reading untyped data the content is parsed according to the supplied type. For example, if an integer array is supplied to the ReadContentAs method call then the string is parsed into an array of integers {123,456}.

In the following example the XML text is not separated by spaces

<elem>123<!-- comment --><?pi my_text?>456789<?pi another_pi?></elem>

If the content is untyped and a string array is supplied to the ReadContentAs method call then an array containing one concatenated string is returned with the value "123456789".

The following table describes how this method treats each node type.


Return value

Reader behavior







Concatenated content of text, CDATA, white space and significant white space nodes converted to the requested type.

Moves to the next start element or end element tag. Entity references are automatically expanded.


Same as calling XmlConvert.ToXxx on the attribute value.

The reader remains in the current position.



Ignores the processing instruction (PI) or comment and reads the concatenated text content that follows the PI or comment.

Moves to the next start element or end element tag. Entity references are automatically expanded.


An empty string.

The reader remains in the current position.









An InvalidOperationException is thrown.

Undefined, although typically the reader remains in the current position.

For more information, see Reading Typed Data and the W3C XML Schema Part 2: Datatypes recommendation.

The following example uses the ReadContentAs method to return the contents of the colors element into an array of string objects.

using (XmlReader reader = XmlReader.Create("dataFile_2.xml")) {

      string[] colors = (string[]) reader.ReadContentAs(typeof(string[]),null);
      foreach (string color in colors) {
         Console.WriteLine("Colors: {0}", color);

The example uses the dataFile_2.xml file as input.

  <item sale-item='true' productID='123456' colors='blue green black'>
  <item sale-item='false' productID='124390'>
  <item sale-item='true' productID='53298'>

.NET Framework

Supported in: 4, 3.5, 3.0, 2.0

.NET Framework Client Profile

Supported in: 4, 3.5 SP1

Portable Class Library

Supported in: Portable Class Library

Windows 7, Windows Vista SP1 or later, Windows XP SP3, Windows XP SP2 x64 Edition, Windows Server 2008 (Server Core not supported), Windows Server 2008 R2 (Server Core supported with SP1 or later), Windows Server 2003 SP2

The .NET Framework does not support all versions of every platform. For a list of the supported versions, see .NET Framework System Requirements.