Manipulating HTML with JavaScript

JavaScript is a powerful tool for manipulating the content of a web page. One of the primary ways we can manipulate a web page is by changing the HTML content. This can be done using the Document Object Model, or DOM. In this article, we'll cover what the DOM is, how to use it to manipulate HTML elements, and best practices for doing so.

What is the Document Object Model (DOM)?

The Document Object Model (DOM) is a programming interface for web documents. It represents the page so that programs can change the document structure, style, and content. The DOM represents the document as nodes and objects, and it provides a way to access and manipulate them.

When a web page is loaded, the browser creates a Document Object Model of the page. The DOM is hierarchical and consists of a tree of nodes. The nodes can be HTML elements, attributes, text, or comments. The DOM provides methods and properties for accessing and manipulating these nodes.

Manipulating HTML Elements with JavaScript

To manipulate HTML elements with JavaScript, we first need to select the element we want to manipulate. There are several ways to do this, but one of the most common is to use the getElementById() method. This method takes the ID of the element we want to select as its parameter and returns the element.

For example, let's say we have an HTML element with an ID of "my-element". We can select this element using the following code:

const myElement = document.getElementById("my-element")

Once we have selected the element, we can manipulate its content using JavaScript. For example, we can change the text content of the element using the textContent property:

myElement.textContent = "New content";

We can also change the HTML content of the element using the innerHTML property:

myElement.innerHTML = "<p>New content</p>";

In addition to changing the content of an element, we can also change its attributes. For example, we can change the value of the src attribute of an image element using the setAttribute() method:

const myImage = document.getElementById("my-image");
myImage.setAttribute("src", "new-image.jpg");

Best Practices for Manipulating HTML with JavaScript

While it's powerful to be able to manipulate the HTML content of a web page with JavaScript, it's important to follow best practices to ensure that our code is maintainable and performs well.

One important best practice is to avoid manipulating the HTML content of a page directly. Instead, we should use JavaScript to manipulate the DOM, which will in turn update the HTML content. This is because directly manipulating the HTML content can lead to security vulnerabilities, and it can also cause the page to be re-rendered, which can be slow and inefficient.

Another best practice is to cache the selected elements. Instead of selecting the same element multiple times, we should select it once and store it in a variable. This can improve performance by reducing the number of DOM queries our code needs to make.

Finally, we should be mindful of performance when manipulating the DOM. Manipulating the DOM can be a slow operation, especially if we're manipulating a large number of elements. It's important to be efficient with our code to minimize the impact on performance.


Manipulating HTML with JavaScript is a powerful tool for web developers. By using the Document Object Model (DOM), we can select and manipulate HTML elements on a web page. However, it's important to follow best practices to ensure that our code is maintainable and performs well.

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