Getting attributes of Enum's value


I would like to know if it is possible to get attributes of the enum values and not of the enum itself? For example, suppose I have the following enum:

using System.ComponentModel; // for DescriptionAttribute

enum FunkyAttributesEnum
    [Description("Name With Spaces1")]
    [Description("Name With Spaces2")]

What I want is given the enum type, produce 2-tuples of enum string value and its description.

Value was easy:

Array values = System.Enum.GetValues(typeof(FunkyAttributesEnum));
foreach (int value in values)
    Tuple.Value = Enum.GetName(typeof(FunkyAttributesEnum), value);

But how do I get description attribute's value, to populate Tuple.Desc? I can think of how to do it if the Attribute belongs to the enum itself, but I am at a loss as to how to get it from the value of the enum.

2/27/2020 9:39:23 AM

Accepted Answer

This should do what you need.

var enumType = typeof(FunkyAttributesEnum);
var memberInfos = enumType.GetMember(FunkyAttributesEnum.NameWithoutSpaces1.ToString());
var enumValueMemberInfo = memberInfos.FirstOrDefault(m => m.DeclaringType == enumType);
var valueAttributes = 
      enumValueMemberInfo.GetCustomAttributes(typeof(DescriptionAttribute), false);
var description = ((DescriptionAttribute)valueAttributes[0]).Description;
7/1/2019 7:53:25 PM

This is a generic implementation using a lambda for the selection

public static Expected GetAttributeValue<T, Expected>(this Enum enumeration, Func<T, Expected> expression)
    where T : Attribute
    T attribute =
        .Where(member => member.MemberType == MemberTypes.Field)
        .GetCustomAttributes(typeof(T), false)

    if (attribute == null)
        return default(Expected);

    return expression(attribute);

Call it like this:

string description = targetLevel.GetAttributeValue<DescriptionAttribute, string>(x => x.Description);

I've merged a couple of the answers here to create a little more extensible solution. I'm providing it just in case it's helpful to anyone else in the future. Original posting here.

using System;
using System.ComponentModel;

public static class EnumExtensions {

    // This extension method is broken out so you can use a similar pattern with 
    // other MetaData elements in the future. This is your base method for each.
    public static T GetAttribute<T>(this Enum value) where T : Attribute {
        var type = value.GetType();
        var memberInfo = type.GetMember(value.ToString());
        var attributes = memberInfo[0].GetCustomAttributes(typeof(T), false);
        return attributes.Length > 0 
          ? (T)attributes[0]
          : null;

    // This method creates a specific call to the above method, requesting the
    // Description MetaData attribute.
    public static string ToName(this Enum value) {
        var attribute = value.GetAttribute<DescriptionAttribute>();
        return attribute == null ? value.ToString() : attribute.Description;


This solution creates a pair of extension methods on Enum. The first allows you to use reflection to retrieve any attribute associated with your value. The second specifically calls retrieves the DescriptionAttribute and returns it's Description value.

As an example, consider using the DescriptionAttribute attribute from System.ComponentModel

using System.ComponentModel;

public enum Days {

To use the above extension method, you would now simply call the following:



var day = Days.Mon;

In addition to AdamCrawford response, I've further created a more specialized extension methods that feed of it to get the description.

public static string GetAttributeDescription(this Enum enumValue)
    var attribute = enumValue.GetAttributeOfType<DescriptionAttribute>();
    return attribute == null ? String.Empty : attribute.Description;

hence, to get the description, you could either use the original extension method as

string desc = myEnumVariable.GetAttributeOfType<DescriptionAttribute>().Description

or you could simply call the the extension method here as:

string desc = myEnumVariable.GetAttributeDescription();

Which should hopefully make your code a bit more readable.


Fluent one liner...

Here I'm using the DisplayAttribute which contains both the Name and Description properties.

public static DisplayAttribute GetDisplayAttributesFrom(this Enum enumValue, Type enumType)
    return enumType.GetMember(enumValue.ToString())


public enum ModesOfTransport
    [Display(Name = "Driving",    Description = "Driving a car")]        Land,
    [Display(Name = "Flying",     Description = "Flying on a plane")]    Air,
    [Display(Name = "Sea cruise", Description = "Cruising on a dinghy")] Sea

void Main()
    ModesOfTransport TransportMode = ModesOfTransport.Sea;
    DisplayAttribute metadata = TransportMode.GetDisplayAttributesFrom(typeof(ModesOfTransport));
    Console.WriteLine("Name: {0} \nDescription: {1}", metadata.Name, metadata.Description);


Name: Sea cruise 
Description: Cruising on a dinghy

Here is code to get information from a Display attribute. It uses a generic method to retrieve the attribute. If the attribute is not found it converts the enum value to a string with pascal/camel case converted to title case (code obtained here)

public static class EnumHelper
    // Get the Name value of the Display attribute if the   
    // enum has one, otherwise use the value converted to title case.  
    public static string GetDisplayName<TEnum>(this TEnum value)
        where TEnum : struct, IConvertible
        var attr = value.GetAttributeOfType<TEnum, DisplayAttribute>();
        return attr == null ? value.ToString().ToSpacedTitleCase() : attr.Name;

    // Get the ShortName value of the Display attribute if the   
    // enum has one, otherwise use the value converted to title case.  
    public static string GetDisplayShortName<TEnum>(this TEnum value)
        where TEnum : struct, IConvertible
        var attr = value.GetAttributeOfType<TEnum, DisplayAttribute>();
        return attr == null ? value.ToString().ToSpacedTitleCase() : attr.ShortName;

    /// <summary>
    /// Gets an attribute on an enum field value
    /// </summary>
    /// <typeparam name="TEnum">The enum type</typeparam>
    /// <typeparam name="T">The type of the attribute you want to retrieve</typeparam>
    /// <param name="value">The enum value</param>
    /// <returns>The attribute of type T that exists on the enum value</returns>
    private static T GetAttributeOfType<TEnum, T>(this TEnum value)
        where TEnum : struct, IConvertible
        where T : Attribute

        return value.GetType()

And this is the extension method for strings for converting to title case:

    /// <summary>
    /// Converts camel case or pascal case to separate words with title case
    /// </summary>
    /// <param name="s"></param>
    /// <returns></returns>
    public static string ToSpacedTitleCase(this string s)
        CultureInfo cultureInfo = Thread.CurrentThread.CurrentCulture;
        TextInfo textInfo = cultureInfo.TextInfo;
        return textInfo
                        "([a-z](?=[A-Z0-9])|[A-Z](?=[A-Z][a-z]))", "$1 "));

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